NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Sergei Bobrovsky is having one of those years goaltenders dream about, and it is making the Columbus Blue Jackets a team to fear when the playoffs start next month.
Bobrovsky made 20 saves in posting his second straight shutout and franchise-record 34th win of the season, and the Blue Jackets beat reeling New Jersey 3-0 on Sunday, sending the Devils to their seventh straight loss.
“Bob’s been pretty good all year long,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “There really hasn’t been a dip along the way. I think he came in with the right mental attitude. I think he came in a different type of condition, dropped some weight. He has just locked himself in so it gives us an opportunity to keep on climbing, and that’s your most important position in the game there and we have a pretty good one.”
Bobrovsky has been spectacular this past week. The 28-year-old lost a 1-0 game to Montreal in overtime on Tuesday and then beat Minnesota 1-0 on Thursday, stopping 67 of 68 shots in those games.
“I think at this time of the season, the games get tighter defensively and it is harder to score,” Bobrovsky said after recording his fifth shutout of the season and the 17th of his career. “Obviously, your mistakes can cost us points. In that case, I try to be focused and help as much as I can.”
Bobrovsky also deferred to teammates on breaking the club’s single-season record for wins, set by Steve Mason in 2008-09.
“It is obviously great, but there is the team in front of me helped me a lot,” he said. “I give big credit to them for that.”
Boone Jenner , Oliver Bjorkstrand and Sam Gagner scored as the Blue Jackets won for the fourth time in six games (4-1-1).
Cory Schneider made 19 saves for the Devils, who were shutout for the sixth time this season.
“They got the lead, added to their lead, and didn’t give it up,” Schneider said. “It’s one of those games where we didn’t find our groove offensively.”
The Devils had a few solid chances, with Taylor Hall generating good shots in each period, the best being a shoulder save on a power play in close early in the final period.
Former Devils Kyle Quincey also helped preserve the shutout. With the Devils on a power play early in the first period, he hooked Kyle Palmieri to the left of the net with the New Jersey wing about to corral a loose puck and shoot it into an open net.
“It’s a great penalty,” Tortorella said. “Those are the ones you kill off. … It was ugly, but he got the job done because it’s in the net if he doesn’t do it.”
After a scoreless first period, Jenner gave the Blue Jackets the only goal they would need, knocking the rebound of a bad-angle shot by Cam Atkinson past Schneider at 2:45 of the second period.
Bjorkstand got his third of the season a little more than three minutes later, collecting a loose puck near the left point, skating into the right circle and firing a shot over Schneider’s shoulder.
Gagner had gone 30 games without a goal before scoring in a loss to Ottawa on Saturday night. He got his second in two nights by tapping a rebound into an open net for his 16th of the season.
NOTES: The Devils activated F Pavel Zacha off injured reserve and recalled D Karl Stollery from Albany (AHL). Both played. … Columbus C Brandon Dubinsky picked up his 400th career point with the secondary assist on Jenner’s goal. … Columbus has killed off 24 of 25 penalties over the last 10 games. … Devils captain Andy Greene missed his second straight game for personal reasons. New Jersey D Dalton Prout and Quincey were traded for each other on Wednesday.
The Devils and Blue Jackets play again Tuesday at Columbus.
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