Game 71 Recap: Jackets Fight Hard in Loss to Canucks

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MARCH 17: Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks tries to check James Wisniewski #21 of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period in NHL action on March 17, 2012 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The Jackets fought hard, but were let down by their penalty kill. The Canucks were able to score two goals while up a man, on penalties by Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski. The duo made up for their time in the box, by each scoring a goal, but it wasn't enough as the Canucks went on to defeat the Jackets 4-3.

Please check after the jump for the full rundown of the night's events.

First Period

Tonight's matchup against the Canucks saw the return of both goaltender Steve Mason, and winger Derek Dorsett. The opening minutes saw little action until the 3:35 mark, when Kevin Bieksa was given a two-minute minor for interference.

On the ensuing powerplay, the Jackets sent out a unit of Rick Nash, Ryan Johansen, R.J. Umberger, Derick Brassard and Nikita Nikitin. Once they were able to secure the zone, they came close to beating Vancouver starter Corey Schneider when Nikitin blasted a shot on net, with the rebound making its way to Johansen's stick. Johansen spun, but fired the puck wide. The second unit had a handful of chances itself, off the sticks of James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson. The Jackets were unable to score, but were showing excellent puck movement.

Random thought #1 - WIsniewski and Johnson would be a logical pairing for Team USA at the Sochi Olympics, providing the NHL participates.

At the 7:55 mark the Jackets took the lead. Cam Atkinson turned on the jets as he carried the puck out of his zone. He chipped the puck past a Vancouver defender, landing on the stick of Vinny Prospal. Vinny hacked at the puck, and it crept through the gear of Schneider and across the goal line.

1-0 Jackets: Vinny Prospal (Cam Atkinson, Steve Mason)

Moments after play resumed, new Canuck Zack Kassian was sent in on a clear breakaway. He got his move off, but Mason robbed him with his glove. This was an instance where Mason's right-hand trapper likely fooled the shooter.

For a majority of the time remaining in the period, the teams engaged in a grinding, physical battle with scoring chances sprinkled in for good measure. Rick Nash had a particularly good shift late in the period, buzzing all over the offensive zone. A cross-crease feed to Umberger just missed, otherwise the Jackets could have gone up by two.

Just after a media timeout, the Canucks tied it up. After winning the faceoff clean, the puck went back to Dan Hamhuis at the point. Hamhuis fired the puck on net, with Mason making the save. Unfortunately for Mason and the Jackets, the rebound went to David Booth in front of the net, who was able to deposit the puck in the net.

1-1: David Booth (Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Kesler)

Just over a minute later, the Canucks seemed to take over the game. The Jackets were chasing the Canucks in the defensive zone, and Vancouver was moving the puck around with ease. The Jackets had their third defensive pairing on the ice, and they were quite simply, shredded. The puck made its way to Daniel Sedin, who made no mistake in beating Mason.

2-1 Canucks: Daniel Sedin (Henrik Sedin)

End of the first period, 2-1 Canucks.

Second Period

The Canucks started the second period as though they were on a powerplay. To say that Vancouver was running roughshod over the Jackets early in the period would be an understatement.

The game continued to have a physical flavor, with bothe teams engaging in scrums here and there. Schneider was dealing with rebound issues, so naturally the Jackets were hacking away in the blue paint at the loose pucks. The Canucks were naturally unimpressed, leading to the unpleasantries.

Random thought #2 - My wife loves the Vancouver sweaters. I love the colors, but give me stick-in-rink full time, please.

As the Chicago Blackhawks and other Western squads have proven, if you get in the face of the Canucks you can throw them off their game. Columbus seemed to fully commit to playing the smash mouth style by the midway point of the period- it goes without saying that they weren't going to win the skill/puck possession battle.

Midway through the period the Jackets had a solid scoring chance. Vinny Prospal had Schneider beat, but Alexander Edler was able to get between the puck and the net to maintain the one goal lead.

Moments later the Canucks went on the powerplay. What followed was one of the more pathetic goals (from a goals-against perspective) I've seen this season- Edler went coast-to-coast from behind his goal line to beat Mason. He went virtually untouched. After the goal, Derek Dorsett turned to his defensemen with his arms up in disbelief.

3-1 Canucks: Alexander Edler (Corey Schneider)

With Rogers Arena buzzing, the Canucks continued to take it to the Jackets. That was at least, until the sixteen minute mark. Johansen won a faceoff clean in the offensive zone, with the puck sliding back to Jack Johnson at the left point. Johnson wound up and blasted a one-timer past Schneider to pull within a goal.

3-2 Canucks: Jack Johnson (Ryan Johansen)

The remainder of the period saw the teams trade time of possession, and not much else.

End of the second period, 3-2 Canucks.

Third Period

Just moments into the period, the Jackets went on their second powerplay of the game when Chris Higgins sent the puck over the glass. The Jackets, though they coiuldn't score, were outstanding. They had a handful of chances, and at one point had Schneider beat, but Sami Salo stacked 'em up to maintain the lead. Moments after that, the Jackets beat Schneider again, but found iron.

The Jackets were much better this period, but the Canucks prevented the Jackets from developing any sustained pressure. Both teams were battling between the bluelines, with few outstanding chances for either team.

Ryan Johansen, playing in his hometown, was good tonight in my estimation. I'd love to see him with either Nash or Atkinson on one of his wings- Johansen can work on the off-the-puck stuff while playing with plkumbers, but an offensive forward needs to put up points to gain the most confidence. Playing with Atkinson and/or Nash would almost certainly lead to Johansen appearing more often on the score sheet.

With just over seven minutes remaining in regulation, Brett Lebda was whistled for tripping but the Canucks couldn't score. Minutes later, Wisniewski was sent to the box, and this time the Canucks didn't disappoint the home crowd.

4-2 Canucks: Daniel Sedin (Henrik Sedin, Alexander Edler)

Random Thought #3 - Kevin Weekes is a fantastic color commentator.

Wisniewski didn't take long to make up for his penalty. With 5:36 left in regulation he bombed the puck in from the point, beating Schneider to pull back within a goal.

4-3 Canucks: James Wisniewski (None)

The goal gave the Jackets some life, but they couldn't beat Schneider. They had Mason pulled, and gave it their all, but just couldn't put one past the goaltender. Great effort to end the game.

Final Score: 4-3 Canucks.

Standard Bearers:

  • Though they both took penalties, and the Canucks scored PPGs against, Controlled Chaos, aka Wisniewski and Jack Johson, were great. They both finished a +2,
  • Ryan Johansen had a solid game in front of his friends and family in Vancouver.
  • CBC. I was able to watch the game on the local CBC HD feed here in Nova Scotia, it was a breath of fresh air to hear the CBC crew call the game.

Bottom of the Barrel:

  • Aaron Johnson and Brett Lebda had a rough night. They were exposed a handful of times, and Lebda took a bad penalty.
  • The Jackets' penalty kill, ranked 30th, sucked.
  • John Moore only play 9:11 tonight. Not that it's a mark against him personally, but it is strange. He needs more of Aaron Johnson's minutes- move him with Nikitin.
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