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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The skills of two All-Star goaltenders were on full display Thursday night, but Sergei Bobrovsky and the Columbus Blue Jackets prevailed on a third-period goal.
Bobrovsky can thank teammate Brandon Saad, who poked his own rebound past Devan Dubnyk 4:32 into the final frame to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
"It was a patient hockey game, both teams leaving it on the ice, and I was just trying to get ugly at the net and stuck one in," Saad said.
Bobrovksy was terrific for the Blue Jackets in the battle of two of the league's best stoppers, collecting his fourth shutout this season and the 16th of his career.
He made a sprawling save of a doorstep shot by Martin Hanzal with about two minutes left in the first, and came up with another big one in the second when Jason Zucker got a breakaway but couldn't penetrate. Zucker got another direct shot at the net in the third period but couldn't best the Russian goalie.
"I felt good, but I would say that the guys helped me a lot," said Bobrovsky, who was elbowed in the head late in the third period, an infraction by Hanzal that gave the Blue Jackets a power play to finish the game. "They made the huge blocked shots at times when I couldn't see (the puck)."
Dubnyk, who leads the NHL in wins, was nearly as good for the Wild, stopping 39 shots.
"From my end, I could see they were doing a great job collapsing in front and making it tough, and Bob's down there doing what he does, making big saves, which is obviously why they're successful," Dubnyk said.
An apparent goal for Minnesota that trickled through Bobrovsky's pads was disallowed in the second period when video showed that Erik Haula had kicked the puck during a scrum in front of the net and it went in off the skate of Columbus' William Karlsson.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau took issue with that decision and also with the elbowing penalty against Hanzal with 1:23 left, lamenting that such a hard-fought game was decided by bad calls from the officials.
"I certainly think we had the better of the chances," he said.
The Blue Jackets are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and moved ahead of Pittsburgh for sole possession of second place in the Metropolitan Division. Minnesota is holding on to first place in the Central Division.
"That's a team you have to stay patient against because that's how they play," Columbus captain Nick Foligno said. "They wait for you to crack. I thought we bent a lot but found a way to win a 1-0 game."
The Wild and Blue Jackets met for the first time since a New Year's Eve showdown of unbeaten streaks. Minnesota had a 12-game streak ruined, while Columbus won its 15th straight and went on to win 16, one short of the NHL record.
NOTES: Bobrovsky has stopped 95 of 98 shots in the past three games. ... Minnesota was without forwards Zach Parise and Jason Pominville for the third straight game because of the mumps. ... F Ryan White and Hanzal were in the lineup for Minnesota after being traded from Arizona on Wednesday night. ... D Kyle Quincey and F Lauri Korpikoski played for the Blue jackets after being acquired in trades Wednesday. ... D Markus Nutivaara was a scratch for the Blue Jackets. ... C William Karlsson returned after missing a game because of illness. ... Wild D Ryan Suter was in the lineup after being shaken up in Tuesday's game against Winnipeg.
Minnesota: Hosts San Jose on Sunday.
Columbus: At Ottawa on Saturday.
Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchstacy