When Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski gathered the puck and looked up the ice, he saw rookie Boone Jenner ahead to his right and, in the corner of his left eye, a blue blur going through the neutral zone. “I let the pass go first, and then I realized it was Joey,” Wisniewski said. “And when I saw that, I was like, ‘OK, this is going to be good.’ I mean, if you have to pick one guy in this room to have the game on his stick in that situation ... ” Sprung by Wisniewski’s 60-foot pass, Ryan Johansen scored on a wrist shot at 3:33 of overtime, leading the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in front of 16,289 at Nationwide Arena. It was Johansen’s 32nd goal of the season, and it pushed the Jackets to the brink of their second Stanley Cup playoffs appearance. “I was screaming for Wiz, but that guy has eyes on the back of his head,” Johansen said. “He wouldn’t miss that pass. I kind of started hitting the panic button because I felt like their defenseman was gaining on me. I tried to get it on my forehand, pick my spot and let it go.” The Blue Jackets remained in eighth place in the Western Conference and in the second wild-card spot because seventh-place Detroit also won last night. Only two teams can catch the Blue Jackets now, and ninth-place Washington is four points back and 10th-place New Jersey sits five points back. All three teams have three games remaining. If the Blue Jackets earn just two points in their final three games — a victory, or even taking two games to overtime before losing — they would qualify. “I’m not looking down, though,” coach Todd Richards said. “I’m still looking up.” The Blue Jackets still can catch the second-place New York Rangers and third-place Philadelphia in the Metropolitan Division. “We want to win out,” Wisniewski said. “We want to win all three games and be playing our best hockey when the playoffs start.” Jenner, Mark Letestu and Blake Comeau also scored for the Blue Jackets, and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 29 saves for this 30th victory. The Blue Jackets overcame a sleepy start against the Coyotes, who are fighting for their playoff lives in the Western Conference.
Blue Jackets 4, Coyotes 3 (OT): Johansen turns pass into winner
Columbus Dispatch | Apr 9