From the drop of the puck tonight in Montreal, it seemed the Jackets were in trouble. Forced to chase end to end rushes, the Canadiens were setting a pace that Columbus simply wasn't able to match shift after shift, and things went ugly quick.
Ryan Johansen would be called for a slash on P.K. Subban, and the Norris trophy winner would pay him back by setting up Rene Borque with a beautiful pass that allowed him to leap past the Jackets' defense and beat Sergei Bobrovsky one on one.
The Jackets had a couple near-miss opportunities afterward, but ended up surrendering another late in the first period, and Subban was involved again, moving the puck to Andrei Markov before the veteran defenseman set up rookie Michael Bournival for a one-timer from the right faceoff dot. With the defense and forwards caught low around the crease, the blast went right past Bob, and the Blue Jackets were once again responsible for giving a young NHL player his first goal.
Down 2-0 in Montreal after 20 minutes was bad enough, but insult got added to injury early in the second period. First, P.K. Subban would deliver a wicked hit to Cam Atkinson that briefly laid him out, though he recovered within a few moments. On the ensuing power play, after being pushed back into their own end, Jack Johnson attempted to pass the puck out from behind his own net to James Wisniewski, but Wiz would mishandle the pass and deflect it up to a wide open Andrei Markov at the blue line, who pounded it back in and straight through Sergei Bobrovsky's legs.
That shorthanded goal really hurt just over a minute later, because the Power Play would finally connect thanks to Boone Jenner, who drove to the net and snapped up a Ryan Johansen rebound, slamming it home past Carey Price.
If they hadn't given up that goal, the Jackets would have halved the lead, but instead they still faced a 2 goal deficit.
Hope began to spark, however, when Ryan Johansen charged into the Montreal zone late in the second period on an odd man rush with R.J. Umberger, looking off the pass until Price began to commit, then tucked his shot up and under the crossbar for his first of the campaign.
Suddenly alive, the Jackets pushed hard through the end of the second and into the third, when Jared Boll drew a high sticking call from Canadiens captain Brian Gionta within the first few minutes, putting Columbus on the power play.
The power play unit would once again cause havoc in front of Price, this time with Artem Anisimov winning a draw back to Mark Letestu, who fired the puck on net, and once again Boone Jenner was there to clean up the rebound, tying the game with just over fifteen minutes to go in regulation.
For thirteen of those minutes, it looked like the Jackets might just push their way to the top, or at least force overtime, but a failure cascade ensued with just over a minute left in regulation. The Jackets had forced Carey Price to make a big save on James Wisniewski, and took a timeout to allow themselves a quick break and plan for the next play. Instead of capitalizing, however, they'd surrender the puck to Brian Gionta, who lead a breakout from the Montreal zone before sending a quick pass to Tomas Plekanec. Plek would break past James Wisniewski and then fire a shot that, frankly, Sergei Bobrovsky should have stopped. 42 feet of open ice between himself and the puck, but Bob whiffed completely, and the Canadiens had their lead back with 1:07 left to play.
Ryan Johansen made a valiant effort to get the goal back, roaring into the Montreal zone again and drawing a power play, but after a pair of near misses around the net, the Habs would get control and send the puck up to Plekanec once again, who fired it into the empty net to seal the game.
Final Score: Canadiens 5 - Jackets 3
- Boone Jenner - Way to go. I'm sorry it came in a loss, but what a breakout game for you. Even without the goals, Jenner was playing hard with and without the puck, but it was great to see him rewarded.
- Ryan Johansen - Another player who was pushing hard all game, and made a big impact with that beautiful late period goal.
- David Savard - The hometown boy got an assist on the first Jenner goal, his third on the season, and was one of, if not the, best defenders on the ice for Columbus tonight. Remember when we all thought he was trade bait?
Bottom of the Barrel:
- Sergei Bobrovsky - Wow, Bob. You really hadn't been playing badly so far this season, but this...this was a stinker. You didn't get a lot of help on the first two goals, and I was willing to excuse them to a point, but the third and fourth goals were pretty much total brainfarts, and not much else to be said.
- Todd Richards - Once again the team basically didn't start playing until 20 minutes into the game. There's a point where you have to wonder what, if anything, is being done at a coaching level to address this. Also, maaaybe it would have been a decent idea to give McIlhenney a look after goal #3.
- James Wisniewski - On the ice for all of the later game goals, and didn't really look too good for any of them. I don't think any of the "veteran" defenders covered themselves in glory tonight, but Wiz most certainly blew it on the Markov and Plekanec goals.
On the plus side, the Jackets finally scored more than one goal. On the downside, everything else. One last game on this roadtrip - a matchup on Saturday with a Capitals team that's almost as down on their luck as we are.
Good news? The Penguins are viciously beating down everyone else on God's Green Earth, so the Jackets are actually still in spitting distance of the #4 spot - heck, a couple of good games would put them right behind the Hurricanes without too much trouble.
The bad news? Well, that basement isn't so far away right now, either.
Time to get on the stick.