Game 56 Recap: Duck Invasion

On the heels of a great performance by Steve Mason the night before, the Jackets looked to take the season series against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. Sloppy, undisciplined play, combined with an atrocious penalty kill allowed the Ducks to get a lead early. The Jackets didn't roll over and die, however, showing some resolve in clawing back within two goals, but Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf were too good on this night.

Read on for the full story:

First Period

The fans that congregated to cheer the Jackets on to the ice as part of the first CBJ "Tweetup" weren't even to their seats when the Ducks took the lead. Fedor Tyutin blocked a point shot, and the puck seemed to disappear for a moment, confusing everybody on the ice until Corey Perry located the biscuit, and wired it past goaltender Steve Mason. It was a strange play, but really no fault of the Jackets. Perry was just the first to find the loose puck.

1-0 Ducks: Corey Perry (Lubomir Visnovsky, Ryan Getzlaf)

The Jackets had an excellent chance to tie the game a few minutes later. John Moore wristed a shot on net from the right point, and Ryan Johansen had a beauty redirect in front, but the puck hit iron. The goal judge even lit up the goal light, but the puck was clearly off the post.

The play was quit fluid into the middle point of the period, where the Ducks started to ratchet up the pressure on the Jackets. Teemu Selanne was his usual dangerous self, making things happen with linemates Bobby Ryan and Saku Koivu.

Just prior to the TV timeout, Steve Mason made a decent glove save to keep the Anaheim lead at one. He was terrific the night before in Minnesota, and I'm extremely hopeful that he can end the season on a strong note. I still believe the Jackets should add a top goaltender next season, but if Mason can get his head right and can play at a high level, I wouldn't be against him serving the backup role. He is under contract for next season after all.

With 7:59 left in the first, Perry went off for hooking. The Jackets powerplay has been very good of late, with Derick Brassard having great success manning the point. The second unit of Jeff Carter, Derek Dorsett and Vinny Prospal had a chance on net, but the second unit of Antoine Vermette, RIck Nash and R.J. Umberger couldn't establish a presence in the offensive zone. At one point, James WIsniewski bobbled the puck at the blueline and was called for an intentional offside. Ugly, but he did just return from an extended absence.

The first five-on-five shift after the unsuccessful powerplay saw a line of Carter, Johansen and Prospal get three, maybe four solid scoring chances in a row on Jonas Hiller. The three players seemed to cycle on the net, each getting a shot on Hiller. The goaltender made the save in each case, but he had to be sharp.

With 5:04 remaining, the Ducks went on the man advantage after Johansen committed a hooking penalty. After some excellent puck movement, Getzlaf fed Perry with a beautiful pass, at which point Perry wired the puck past Mason.

2-0 Ducks: Corey Perry (Ryan Getlaf, Saku Koivu)

Just seconds after, Nash was given a shot to the chops by Sheldon Brookbank. Brookbank was handed a roughing penalty, giving the Jackets a chance to cut the lead in half. It didn't take the Jackets long to do just that. Jeff Carter received the puck in the circle to Hiller's left. After pulling off a spin move, he slid the puck perfectly through the slot to a pinching Tyutin, who one-timed the puck into the net.

2-1 Ducks: Fedor Tyutin (Jeff Carter, Vinny Prospal)

The followup shift for the Jackets was ugly, with Brassard and Nash committing back-to-back turnovers in the defensive zone. Mason was there to back them up to keep the Anaheim lead to one goal.

End of the first period, 2-1 Ducks.

Second Period

Just minutes in to the period, the Ducks struck again. It was a strange sequence- moments earlier Mason made a nice glove save off of a Perry wrist shot. Perry skated up to Mason after the whistle, chirping his fellow London Knight alum. Mason looked offended, saying nothing in reply to Perry. He just hung his head and allowed the ref to grab the puck out of his outstretched glove. On the next sequence, Derek Dorsett lost the puck at his blueline, and with the defense already skating up-ice, Jason Blake used his speed to gather the puck, skating in on Mason and beating him with a backhand. It seemed to me that whatever Perry said seconds earlier rattled Mason, temporarily throwing him off, just in time for Dorsett to turn the puck over. I don't want to make a mountain out of a mole hill here, but it was something that stood out to me.

3-1 Ducks: Jason Blake (Ryan Getzlaf)

To make matters worse, shortly afterward Grant Clitsome was sent to the box for boarding. The Ducks were able to capitalize, with Selanne firing a beautful pass from the right wing into the slot to Ryan, who wired the puck past Mason.

4-1 Ducks: Bobby Ryan (Teemu Selanne, Cam Fowler)

The Jackets were pissed off, and things started to get chippy. After Hiller froze the puck after a Columbus shot on net, Brassard and Visnovsky got into a shoving match. Eventually the gloves came off, with Brassard getting the sweater over Visnovsky's head, meanwhile feeding him a few bomb(lets). Unfortunately, Brass seemed to injure his thumb, but would return later in the game. The Columbus broadcast showed a video clip of Brassard from the first period, getting that same thumb taped by the trainer. Visnovsky picked up the full 2-5-10, getting the misconduct for not having his sweater tied down.

The Jackets looked dangerous early in the powerplay, and were given an even better hand dealt to them when Koivu went off for hooking, giving the Jackets a two-man advantage. Though they put Nash, Carter, Prospal, Wisniewski and Umberger out as a unit, they couldn't get a shot on net.

The bloodbath continued a few minutes later. The Ducks went back to the powerplay after the Jackets were whistled for too many men on the ice. Off the faceoff, the puck slid to Mason. He was unable to smother it, and Corey Perry was on the doorstep to flip the puck in the net for the hat trick. This was Perry's second hat trick this season against the Jackets. It also put the Ducks three for three on the man advantage.

5-1 Ducks: Corey Perry (Bobby Ryan)

After the goal the Jackets were seemingly just going through the motions-with the exception of Dorsett of course. He continued to display his endless hussle, forcing Hiller to make a tough save at one point. You have to feel for the players. This season has been a nightmare, and I can only imagine how difficult it is to stay positive given the way things have shaken out this season.

The fourth line took to the ice with little more than 30 seconds left in the period. They did exactly what you want from a fourth line- they provided energy and forced the Ducks to scramble. The puck made its way to Aaron Johnson at the left point. AJ wound up and blast a slapper that was slightly off-center, but it deflected off of Francois Beauchemin's skate to cut the lead to 5-2.

5-2 Ducks: Aaron Johnson (James Wisniewski, Derek MacKenzie)

End of the second period, 5-2 Ducks.

Third Period

There wasn't much to report in this period until the 5:18 mark, when Corey Perry went off for slashing. Seconds into the powerplay, Hiller made the save off a Nash shot. The rebound fell to the ice, just to the left of Hiller. Antoine Vermette spotted the puck and dove towards it with his stick outstretched. He got just enough of it to beat Hiller.

5-3 Ducks: Antoine Vermette (Rick Nash, Fedor Tyutin)

The goal actually gave the Jackets life, and they were able to put together a string of decent shifts, with the Carter line looking the most dangerous. Prospal and Carter look pretty good together, and I can't imagine why Johansen isn't the third member of that unit. Colton Gillies works hard, but he doesn't have the talent to hang with the other two. Johansen meanwhile, is on the fourth line getting limited minutes.

The Ducks started to take over with about five minutes left, looking to close things up. To counter this, Columbus coach Todd Richards moved Nash to the Carter line with Prospal.

With 3:12 left in the game, the Ducks went to the powerplay again after Dorsett elbowed Jason Blake to the head. The Ducks were unable to score, but as soon as the penalty ended, Wisniewski fired a long-bomb pass from his zone to a streaking Umberger. Umberger skated in on Hiller, but was unable to beat the Anaheim 'tender. The followup shot was also somehow stopped. The Ducks took a timeout immediately after, and the Jackets pulled Mason.

Though the Jackets were able to maintain possession of the puck for most of the remaining time, they couldn't beat Hiller.

Final Score: 5-3 Ducks.

Standard Bearers:

  • Bill Davidge and Jeff Rimer had an interesting discussion on the merit of fighting (and who should be fighting) after the Brassard/Visnovsky tilt. I thoroughly enjoyed the honesty that the two were finally putting out there for public consumption. These guys are frustrated too- how can they possibly put a positive spin on something that is so flawed? Well done, gents.
  • Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf were beasts tonight, 'nuff said.
  • Derek Dorsett just didn't quit tonight.

Bottom of the Barrel:

  • The overall team play was sloppy and disorganized. Turnovers hurt the team tonight.
  • The penalty kill continued to struggle, as they Ducks went 3 for 4.
  • Steve Mason looked flustered on at least two of the goals against.
  • The team needs to load up on skill in the top six. Leave Gillies with the checkers, and put Johansen with the scorers.

The Jackets return to action at home against Ken Hitchcock and the Blues on Tuesday. Hopefully the team will have some reinforcements back, namely Mark Letestu and Nikita Nikitin.

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