Leclaire picked up his second straight shutout to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets past the Phoenix Coyotes 3-0 on Wednesday.
Leclaire was injured most of last year and his replacement, Fredrik Norrena, came in to post the first winning record for a Columbus goaltender. Some thought Norrena was a shoo-in to take the starting job again this season, with a healthy Leclaire on call. Leclaire hasn’t allowed a goal in 150 minutes and 22 seconds dating to last season.
He had a stellar night, once again. I have never doubted his ability. But will he stay healthy? Maybe the offseason training Hitch institued will make the difference. I think it’s already apparent we are a better conditioned team.
Leclaire finished with 32 saves, weathering six Phoenix power plays. He had just one shutout in his first 59 NHL games, now has two in less than a week.
I dont believe I have ever seen a team work so hard to insure a deserving goalie had his shutout preserved. Leclaire was most tested in the third period, espicially late, when the game ended in a Phx power play.
The Blue Jackets controlled the opening period, outshooting the Coyotes 13-7 and scoring the only goal.
Chimera had the puck left of the goal and began skating toward the back boards, but flicked a quick pass to Malhotra who was trailing. His one-timer was his first goal of the year.
It was the first Columbus point for Hejda, a free-agent defenseman signed by the Blue Jackets last summer.
At 2:56 of the second period, what appeared to be a harmless shot ended up giving Columbus a two-goal lead. Jan Hejda was near the blue line when he fired the puck at Aebischer. The goalie blocked the shot but it bounced off toward Chimera, who was skating in near the right wing. The puck glanced off his right shin, past defenseman Ed Jovanovski and into the net.
Boll then touched off a wild celebration when he took a pass from Boll and scored on a breakaway, deking before beating Aebischer high on the glove side.
All of the Columbus points came from the third and fourth lines, which were notoriously unproductive in the franchise’s first six seasons.