COLUMBUS, Ohio — After a season filled with injuries, the Columbus Blue Jackets are getting healthy. And, apparently, more resilient.
Jack Johnson's backhander 56 seconds into overtime lifted the Blue Jackets past the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Tuesday night, extending their winning streak to seven.
The Devils, who lost their sixth game in a row (0-5-1), tied it on Mike Cammalleri's second goal of the night — short-handed, no less — with 2:29 left in regulation.
But the Blue Jackets, so thin earlier in the year after being decimated by injuries that they fell out of contention, bounced right back.
"I just like the way our guys responded," said Brandon Dubinsky, who scored on a penalty shot in the second period.
On the winning goal, Johnson skated from the left wing through the slot and flipped a shot that got through traffic and by Cory Schneider for the winner.
"I came around the side of the net and the next thing I knew I was all by myself," said the defenseman, who notched his seventh goal of the season. "Once I had a chance, I just tried a backhander."
Everyone piled on Johnson in celebration as the horn sounded.
Nick Foligno scored a power-play goal and Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves as the Blue Jackets matched a season high for consecutive wins.
"Obviously, they're one of the hottest teams in the league right now," said Schneider, who stopped 28 shots. "You can see why. They play with speed and skill and with some grit. They go to the crease and they make it hard. They're a tough team to handle."
Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, they're finding their game too late. Boston's 3-2 win over Florida on Tuesday night ended Columbus' flickering hopes of making the playoffs.
With almost 500 man games lost to injury, at the very least the Blue Jackets have some depth for a change.
"It feels a little bit like that, just getting healthier," coach Todd Richards said. "With the power play and the penalty kill, there's more options."
New Jersey has scored seven goals during its skid. Cammalleri also found the net on a power play in the first period. Eric Gelinas had two assists.
"Unfortunately, we just couldn't get it done in overtime," Devils coach and general manager Lou Lamoriello said.
Dubinsky, who had never scored on a penalty shot in 538 NHL games, got the chance after being slashed by Stefan Matteau as he shot while on a breakaway. Dubinsky worked his way from the right wing to beat Schneider with a wrist shot on the glove side at 4:44 of the second period.
Schneider had stopped eight of nine previous penalty shots.
That goal gave the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead. It stayed that way until a wild final few minutes.
With Columbus on the power play, Gelinas' stretch pass found Dainius Zubrus alone in the neutral zone. He swooped in on Bobrovsky and got off a shot. Zubrus then whacked at the rebound, but Bobrovsky made both stops.
Zubrus didn't give up on the play from the back wall. He gathered the puck and sent a pass off a defender's stick that popped over the edge of the net. Cammalleri was there to get a stick on the puck and it squirted in as Bobrovsky tried to cover the post.
But the Blue Jackets didn't fade away after the late goal.
NOTES: The Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen had two assists, giving him at least one in seven straight games — one off the franchise mark. His overall point streak is eight games (3-8-11). ... Columbus RW Jared Boll served the third and final game of the suspension he was given for a high hit on Anaheim's Patrick Maroon. ... The Blue Jackets activated LW Matt Calvert from the injured list. ... D Andy Greene, who has played in all 77 games for New Jersey, is a product of Miami (Ohio). He received a warm reception during introductions. ... The Blue Jackets have outscored opponents 30-16 during their winning streak. They also set a record for most wins in March, going 11-4. ... The Devils had not lost six in a row since October 2013.
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