Stop me if you've heard this before - the Columbus Blue Jackets spotted their opponents an early 2-0 lead. Well, that's exactly how Friday's game started in Anaheim, only this time the Jackets had very little pushback as the Ducks rolled to a 4-1 win, their seventh straight victory.
This was a fairly "easy" win for the Ducks. I do not have advanced stats for the game in front of me yet, but my guess is that they will show Anaheim dominated possession, and we know they doubled up on Columbus in the shots on goal statistic (34-17). The CBJ didn't even threaten double digit shots on net for an single period - five in the first, five in the second, and seven in the third. The one goal they did manage to score came from the Johansen line, of course. It was ugly, but here is how it unfolded.
Just 24 seconds into the game David Savard was called for hooking, which is obviously not how you want to start on the road. On the ensuing power play, Corey Perry would score his 9th goal (already??) of the season thanks in part to a nice set up from Sami Vatanen. Vatanen skated down from the point, faked a slap shot, and fed Perry who was waiting on the goal line to Bobrovsky's line. Perry then accelerated quickly to the net and finished around Bob. Not even a minute and a half into the game and the Ducks were up 1-0.
1-0 Ducks - Corey Perry (9th) at 1:28 from Sami Vatanen and Cam Fowler - PP
Just 26 seconds after the goal, Anaheim's Nate Thompson gave Columbus a power play after holding Michael Chaput, but the Jackets could not convert. A few minutes after that power play, Matt Calvert went to the box for a hooking call.
Two of the strengths for the Blue Jackets early on this season has been their penalty kill and their disciplined play. Those went out the window in Anaheim. On the second penalty kill of the night, the Jackets just had an awful sequence. After a shot, the puck came to Jack Johnson's feet in front of Bobrovsky. Johnson tried to calmly clear the puck - he had a lane - but the Ducks kept it in at the blue line. Just seconds later, Michael Chaput gathered the puck off the half-wall and missed on his clearing attempt. William Karlsson passed the puck over to Sami Vatanen along the blue line and Vatanen blasted the puck past Bobrovsky who was screened by Corey Perry. He had no chance.
2-0 Ducks - Sami Vatanen (3rd) at 8:37 from William Karlsson - PP
John Gibson was making just his second start of the season for the Ducks, and he did not exactly look sharp in net but Columbus never sustained a whole lot of pressure on the young goalie. They did get one past him in the first period and it came via the power play.
Jack Johnson was at the point and got the puck to Ryan Johansen along the half wall off to Gibson's right. This appears to be a favorite for power play formation for the CBJ this season. Joey skated along the wall down towards the goal line, calmly surveying the scene. He then turned back toward the point, looking to Johnson. But Hartnell was skating towards the net in the slot. In a mini-"no look" pass, Johansen fed Hartnell who ripped a shot towards the goal. Gibson blocked the shot initially and the rebound kicked out in front of him. Nick Foligno was there battling and somehow the goal ended up behind Gibson. It looked like Foligno's goal but it ultimately got rewarded to Hartnell as officials determined an Anaheim player directed in the rebound. It was Hartnell's first goal for Columbus
2-1 Ducks - Scott Hartnell (1st) at 14:00 from Ryan Johansen and Jack Johnson - PP
Columbus was probably happy to be down just 2-1 after 20 minutes as Anaheim was dictating the play. Other than the Hartnell goal, there were not a lot of positives in the opening period. Instead of a league-leading 9th assist, Hartnell was rewarded with his first goal in the union blue. This also ended Nick Foligno's point streak. Johansen extended his own streak to all seven games of the season (what rust?) as he has 5-5-10 already.
The 2nd period was much more disciplined with Jared Boll serving the only penalty of the period for roughing. Like the period before, the Jackets just could not sustain possession or offensive pressure. Also like earlier in the game, a defensive breakdown would lead to an Anaheim goal.
As James Wisniewski pressured the puck along the boards to Bobrovsky's right, the Jackets had Fedor Tyutin and Artem Anisimov in the crease covering...well...no one in particular. The puck was cycled down low to Bobrovsky's left and Tyutin went out to cover Corey Perry. For some reason, Anisimov started skating up the ice, which left a wide open area in front of the net. Devante Smith-Pelly entered this void, took a feed from Perry, and beat Bobrovsky. It was just an ugly breakdown for Columbus.
3-1 Ducks - Devante Smith-Pell (2nd) at 13:06 from Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf - EV
It was another two-goal lead, but this time the Jackets showed little interest in cutting into the lead. Anaheim kept dictating play and piling up more opportunities.
The final period was more of the same - Anaheim firing shots and Columbus struggling to set up anything offensively. One power play featured a single shot on net while the Ducks got two shots on Bob thanks to a 3-on-1 rush. There were two scary moments for a team already hit with the injury bug.
Early in the period, Adam Cracknell slammed awkwardly into the boards chasing the puck in the corner in the offensive zone. It appeared that he lost his balance and his left leg bent...well, it bent in an odd fashion. He immediately threw off his gloves and shouted in pain. Cracknell went to the locker room and was not putting any weight on his left skate. Somehow, he ended up back on the bench and even played a few shifts the rest of the period.
In the middle of the period, Cam Atkinson was trailing the puck carrier into the Columbus zone as an Anaheim power play was winding down. Cam took a skate to his face from Ryan Kesler and went down in a heap right away. The officials stopped play (the fans were not happy) and Atkinson went to the locker room. Some good news - Atkinson did not sustain any damage to his right eye. The skate cut across his right eye lid and then down his cheek. Very fortunate it wasn't any worse. Look for more updates on Cracknell and Atkinson on Saturday.
Todd Richards pulled Bobrovsky with 2:46 remaining after an icing to try and provide a spark, but the CBJ never got anything set up. Getzlaf finished off the scoring with an empty netter.
4-1 Ducks - Ryan Getzlaf (3rd) at 17:33 from Andrew Cogliano - ENG
There was a scrap late between Jared Boll and Clayton Stoner, which Boll won, but it was mostly out of frustration. This one was rough for the Jackets who never got much sustained pressure on offense. The team looked tired, which was not too surprising given they had played in San Jose 21 hours earlier and Anaheim was off Thursday. The Ducks are also on a roll, having now won seven in a row.
Final - Ducks 4, Jackets 1
- Ryan Johansen - points in every game, and continues his winning ways in the faceoff circle (going 12/22 tonight for 54.5%). Everyone had him pegged for some rust early in the season, but he is the best offensive weapon for Columbus now and it doesn't even matter who Richards puts on his wings. All that holdout stuff just seems silly now, right?
- Props to Scott Hartnell for getting that goal monkey off his back. He is piling up the assists (eight) as well. He did take a penalty in the third, but when you are the only to score you get called out for the positives.
- ...(no one else)...
Bottom of the Barrel
- Just about the entire defense. A couple of really bad sequences and Bob couldn't bail them out. The pairings obviously are not working out as Richards was shuffling partners as the game went along again. The unit needs Murray back, but everyone needs to play better.
- Lack of offense. 17 shots? Are you kidding?
- Lack of effort / execution. You HAVE to clear on the kill. The Jackets squandered those chances. You HAVE to get the puck deep. Columbus didn't do that. You can blame it on the back-to-back, but the team simply has to have a better effort than what they displayed against the Ducks.
Bobrovsky was decent - he made 30 saves on 33 shots, but he also got caught on at least one of the goals. The California road trip wraps up Sunday afternoon against the Kings. No word yet on any line changes (Dano? Murray? Atkinson and/or Cracknell out?), although Curtis McElhinney is expected to be activated off of IR.
The team is now 4-3-0 on the season.