Avalanche 1, Blue Jackets 0
Aebischer made 24 saves for his third shutout of the season and 13th overall, and Brett Clark scored the lone goal in the Avalanche’s 1-0 victory Thursday night.
“I was sharp, but I’ve been that way since January,” said Aebischer, who improved to 7-0-0 lifetime against the Blue Jackets. “I made a couple of tough saves, but it was mostly the guys in front of me.”
Aebischer made several spectacular saves, none better when he denied David Vyborny late in the second period while down on the ice. The goalie swatted away two screened shots while the Avalanche were killing off two penalties late in the game.
“I had a lucky bounce on the Vyborny shot,” Aebischer said. “It was a double deflection. He just couldn’t put it past me.”
Aebischer has allowed six goals in seven career starts against Columbus.
Leclaire made 39 saves.
Colorado had some chances to put the game away in the third period. Joe Sakic and Andrew Brunette had Leclaire down on the ice, but each time the Columbus goalie was up to the task. He swatted away Brunette’s backhander at 11:35 of the period.
“The players were scrambling and I was lucky on those,” Leclaire said. “Sometimes you create your own luck with positioning.”
“He kept us in the game,” Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. “With his play and had we made plays when we had to, we win the game.”
Another factor was a nonproductive power play that was 0-for-6. Columbus has beaten the Avalanche once in 20 games.
The Avalanche killed Columbus’ late 22-second, two-man advantage.
“The short-handed 5-on-3 was big,” Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was on the balance all the game, and we had a couple of big penalty kills.”
While being outshot 12-5, Columbus frustrated the Avalanche with its trap in the first period.
John-Michael Liles hit the left post a minute into the second period, but Columbus’ defense and penalty-killing unit continued to frustrate the Avalanche through most of the period. It wasn’t until Colorado’s third power play of the period that the Blue Jackets finally broke down.
Clark tapped a shot over Leclaire’s right shoulder at 15:51 after receiving Brunette’s pass from the right corner. Rick Nash was serving a hooking minor at the time.
Columbus had a chance to tie it with 1:45 left when Aebischer stopped Radoslav Suchy’s slap shot from the upper left circle. The puck bounced back to Vyborny alone in front of the Colorado crease. Aebischer stretched out at the last second to deny a goal with his left skate.
“We are 4-0 against them, but we are by no means overconfident when we play them,” Quenneville said. “We know that three of the games we have had against these guys have been really tough and competitive.”