COLUMBUS, Ohio The Columbus Blue Jackets welcomed back Sergei Bobrovsky on Tuesday night and they are back on top of the NHL standings.The All-Star returned after missing the past three games with an illness and gave the Blue Jackets the stellar goaltending they’ve come to expect from him in a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in Nationwide Arena.Bobrovsky finished with 24 saves and posted his NHL-best 27th victory of the season, blanking the Hurricanes after giving up one goal late in the first period.”Bob’s in a different plane. Bob’s a top goalie in the National Hockey League,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “it was good to have Bob in the net and it helped us tonight.”Brandon Dubinsky scored two goals for the Blue Jackets and Boone Jenner and Lukas Sedlak had one each. Ryan Murray and Cam Atkinson added two assists each and Jenner had one.Columbus (30-9-4) beat Carolina (21-16-7) for only the second time in the last seven meetings and moved into a tie for first place in the Metropolitan Division with the Washington Capitals with a league-best 64 points each.The Blue Jackets were certainly happy to see a healthy Bobrovsky (27-6-2) back on the ice without missing a beat.”They feel very confident with him,” Tortorella said. “I thought Bob was really sharp. When a team sees a goalie that’s just solid and not a lot of movement, it really relaxes them.”Dubinsky delivered the go-ahead goal near the end of the first period and added his second of the night and fifth of the season early in the second. From there, the Blue Jackets controlled the action and Bobrovsky was impenetrable in the net.”They did a good job getting pucks to the net and there was traffic,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. “They made it hard to pick up pucks. Give them credit for throwing pucks at net, pucks and bodies.”The Blue Jackets had lost 5-3 to the Hurricanes on the road a week ago and struggled to a 2-4 record since their 16-game winning streak ended earlier this month. And they had lost five of the previous six games in the series.”We wanted a reset for sure,” Dubinsky said. “We haven’t played that well in the last six or so games. That’s the way we need to play to beat teams.The Hurricanes led 1-0 late in the opening period on a goal by rookie Sebastian Aho, his 11th of the season, but that was their last hurrah.”We were better tonight,” Jenner said. “In the first period, we were a little sluggish. … We dialed it in a little more as the game went on. We just played more to our style tonight just keeping it a simpler game.”After 18 scoreless minutes to start the game, the goals came fast and furious within a one-minute stretch.Carolina opened the scoring with 1:54 remaining in the first period. Aho took a cross-ice pass from Teuvo Teravainen and beat Bobrovsky for a 1-0 lead.Columbus wasted no time answering, tying the score 11 seconds later when Jenner skated in on Ward, dragged the puck in front of the crease and flipped a shot into the net for his ninth goal of the season. The Blue Jackets went ahead just 35 seconds after that when Dubinsky scored on a low bullet between the legs of Ward for a 2-1 lead after one period.”The biggest thing for me is we’ve had our struggles getting the momentum back on our side when we’ve lost it,” Tortorella said. “They score a goal and we score two. It was really good to get the momentum back on our side.”Dubinsky opened the second period with his second goal of the night, boosting the Blue Jackets’ lead to 3-1 at 3:53 when his shot from the right-wing boards above the circle found its way past Ward.Sedlak made it 4-1 at 9:16 when he deposited a shot on a rebound of a shot by Sam Gagner over Ward’s right shoulder. At that point, the Hurricanes replaced Ward with rookie Alex Nedeljkovic, a Parma, Ohio, native making his NHL debut.Nedeljkovic shut out Columbus the rest of the way, making 17 saves.”He was good,” Peters said. “He came in, shut the door and gave us a chance to come back.”NOTES: Columbus D Markus Nutivaara missed his first game of the season with an undisclosed injury. The Finnish rookie has two goals and five assists in 42 contests. … Hurricanes F Brock McGinn had a productive past week, starting with a goal in Carolina’s 5-3 win over Columbus. He totaled four goals and three assists in three games, all wins, and had a career-high four points against the New York Islanders. … Nedeljkovic was called up to the NHL for the first time on Monday. A second-round draft pick in 2014, Nedeljkovic has a 5-12-1 record this season with Charlotte of the American Hockey League. G Michael Leighton was reassigned to Charlotte.
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Two intense rivalries were renewed on state baseball diamonds this weekend as North Carolina and NC State battled in Chapel Hill and NC A&T celebrated Easter with three down-the-wire games against NC Central in Greensboro. […]