Bjorkstrand, Blue Jackets top Devils 4-3 to stop 3-game skid
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets over the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Saturday night, halting a three-game skid.
Boone Jenner and Igor Chinakhov also scored for the Blue Jackets, who rebounded from Thursday’s loss at New Jersey and beat the Devils on home ice for the sixth straight time.
Jakub Voracek and Adam Boqvist each had two assists. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 27 shots for his first win since Nov. 22 — and first at home since April 6 last season.
“It was a huge win for us,” Voracek said. “We made it a lot tougher than we had to but we found a way. It’s a crucial time of the year. We have to get some wins.”
Nico Hischier, Jimmy Vesey and Marian Studenic scored for New Jersey. Mackenzie Blackwood made 30 saves.
“A lot of guys played a lot of different positions with a lot of different players, but I thought we played the game the right way,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “We (gave) ourselves a chance to win a hockey game, even down to the bitter end.”
Bjorkstrand broke a 3-all tie exactly five minutes into the third period with his second goal of the night, a wrist shot from the right circle.
Voracek got his 24th assist on the play. He and Bjorkstrand lead the Blue Jackets with 25 points apiece.
“He’s a really good playmaker,” Bjorkstrand said. “Every time he has the puck you know the puck can be coming toward you. You have to be aware and find open ice and be open. He likes to pass it more than shoot it.”
Bjorkstrand put Columbus on the board with a power-play goal at 2:01 of the first, and the Blue Jackets made it 2-0 at 4:03 when Jenner’s centering pass from behind the net took a fortunate bounce off the skate of a Devils player.
Hischier cut the lead in half at 14:41 with a shot from the slot for his fourth goal in his last three games. New Jersey pulled even when Vesey scored over Korpisalo’s glove with 19.6 seconds left in the first for his first goal since coming out of COVID-19 protocol.
Columbus pulled ahead when a hard-charging Sean Kuraly found Chinakhov from behind the net at 9:31 of the second, but the Devils tied it again when Studenic hammered home a pass into the crease from Jesper Boqvist at 13:32.
“We kept getting the lead, which is a good sign,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “Some momentum swings didn’t last nearly as long as other games. When you are not winning a lot you get tentative. That’s a dangerous way to play.
“They stuck with it tonight. That’s a wonderful thing to see.”
A THOUSAND TIMES, YES
Voracek was honored in a pregame ceremony for becoming the 361st player in NHL history (358th skater) to play in 1,000 career games. Selected seventh overall by the Blue Jackets in the 2007 NHL draft, Voracek played his first three seasons for Columbus before spending 10 with the Philadelphia Flyers. He returned to the Blue Jackets this season.
Devils forwards Nathan Bastian and Jesper Bratt were both put in COVID-19 protocol and missed the game. They have plenty of company, as Yegor Sharangovich, Pavel Zacha, Andreas Johnsson, Mason Geertsen and Dougie Hamilton are all in the protocol as well, while Hamilton nurses a broken jaw. The Devils added to their roster forward A.J. Greer and defenseman Colton White. Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski returned from COVID-19 protocol after missing two games, while forward Alexandre Texier was placed in protocol Friday and did not play.
Columbus’ power-play goal was its first since Dec. 7 and 14th on the season, tied for 27th in the league.
Jesper and Adam Boqvist each had points in their third NHL game against one another. Adam had the secondary assists on goals by Jenner and Bjorkstrand. His older brother had the primary assist on Studenic’s goal.
New Jersey hosts Tampa Bay on Monday.
Columbus hosts Chicago on Tuesday.
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