It's always interesting how injuries that literally have nothing to do with each other can still seem contagious. The Jackets have lost players in each of the last three days, none bigger than Sergei Bobrovsky. They got Cam Atkinson back, but came into the game without Matt Calvert and Nick Foligno to go with the already-lengthy injuries.
But, pro sports teams have a way of rallying around their mates when times get tough. The Jackets are far from firing on all cylinders, but sometimes will can triumph over the harsh realities of injury. Tonight started out as one of those nights, and then when the third period rolled around it quickly unraveled.
It would be a tale of the Power Plays early and often, as both teams came out a little feisty. After laying a thunderous check on Eric Gryba, Jared Boll would find himself on the receiving end of an invitation to drop the mitts from Mark Borowiecki, who would get the extra two minutes for instigating. Not sure if it was the intention, but it seemed to get the Jackets going. Their Power Play was crisp, and almost opened up the scoring about 90 seconds into the Power Play. A point shot was initially stopped by Robin Lehner, and Mark Letestu poked at the puck under the big netminder. A quick whistle would negate the puck trickling through Lehner's legs and over the line. No goal.
But, it wouldn't take long for Columbus to exact some revenge. With four seconds left, Artem Anisimov pulled up on the left half-wall and found David Savard with a nice cross-ice feed to the right point. Savard had space, skated it in a bit, and unleashed a laser shot that beat Lehner to the blocker side.
1-0 Blue Jackets - David Savard (2nd) at 5:19, from Artem Anisimov and Alexander Wennberg - PPG
It wouldn't last long, however. Ryan Murray would go off for roughing almost instantly, and almost instantly after that the Senators would notch an equalizer from the usual suspects. Bobby Ryan fed the puck high to Erik Karlsson, who ripped a shot that was redirected by Clarke MacArthur past Curtis McElhinney to tie it up.
1-1 Tie - Clarke MacArthur (3rd) at 6:22, from Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan - PPG
Think these boys weren't physical? Think again: the teams combined for 24 hits in the first period, and would trade additional Power Plays. Boll would again get mixed up in a scrap with Chris Neil that ended with Neil giving Boller a little face-rake to draw the extra 2:00. On one Power Play the Jackets displayed great zone pressure, but just couldn't beat Lehner. The Jackets dominated the stats in the first, outshooting the Sens 14-5--a nice change from some early periods on the road trip. That said, while they had some nice chances they also had some moments that made you cringe a little bit, as the Sens turned up the pressure toward the end of the frame.
End of 1st - 1-1 TIE
The Senators started the second period with 53 seconds left of a hangover Power Play, and though they wouldn't score on the man advantage they would use the momentum to pull ahead early in the period. With the puck deep, Zach Smith would send it back to the point and Cody Ceci, and then beat Murray back to a spot to the side of McElhinney. Ceci ripped a shot/pass that Smith was able to easily redirect past McElhinney.
2-1 Senators - Zach Smith (2nd) at 1:44, from Cody Ceci - EV
The Jackets were back on their heels for a bit, as their 14-5 shots advantage evaporated into a 15-12 advantage after just a few minutes. And then, things got even crazier.
With the puck deep on the left side, Gryba would lay a dirty high hit to the head of Anisimov, who would go down and be forced to leave the game. Hartnell flew in to administer some instant street justice, but the damage was already done. Gryba got a five minute major and a game misconduct, and Hartnell got two for roughing. The Jackets couldn't do any damage on the Power Play, and admittedly thoughts immediately turned to, "Great, how long is Arty out for?" As if the Jackets need any more man-games lost to injury right now.
The Jackets were able to work their shot advantage back up, as they finished the period up 29-18 in shots. But, Lehner had long since gotten comfortable, and it never really felt like Columbus was close to scoring.
Until they did.
Off an offensive zone faceoff on what looked like a set play, Ryan Johansen won the draw back to James Wisniewski, who tapped it to Atkinson for a one-timer that appeared to hit a Senator in front on its way by Lehner high to the blocker side.
2-2 Tie - Cam Atkinson (4th) at 18:57, from James Wisniewski and Ryan Johansen - EV
The teams would head off tied once again.
End of 2nd - 2-2 TIE
The Jackets played well for large stretches of this game. Before what happened next gets dissected, remember that fact. The eventual game-winning goal came off a Senators' 3-on-1 rush that happened because the Jackets couldn't convert on a 4-on-2 the other way and got pinned deep on a bad bounce. With Wisniewski the only one back, the Sens came into the zone three wide, with Karlsson and Kyle Turris playing give and go. Turris brought it in wide and fed it back to Karlsson in the slot who whipped it through McElhinney's five-hole.
3-2 Senators - Erik Karlsson (3rd) at 3:41, from Kyle Turris - EV
This time is was the Jackets' turn to get in on the five-minute majors, as Corey Tropp would earn one and a game misconduct for a check from behind on Borowiecki. Mike and I disagreed on whether it was a bad hit or not, and I see Mike's point that Boro turned at the last second. I thought it was a clear charge, though, and really it was just a dumb play. Down one and the Sens get a five minute major while the Jackets drop to 10 forwards to finish the game.
And, though it would take almost all of the five minutes, the Senators effectively ended it on this Power Play, as the puck worked its way to the right half-wall where MacArthur fed Alex Chiasson the slot for the one-timer to put the Sens up two.
4-2 Senators - Alex Chiasson (3rd) at 10:06, from Clarke MacArthur and Mark Stone - PPG
It got worse from there, as Ryan Murray's tough night continued. On a play that just has to be stopped, Turris skated into the zone and lost the puck between THREE Blue Jackets. It bounced toward Murray, who had it undress him as MacArthur skated by unchecked and whipped it past a surprised McElhinney to all but ice it.
5-2 Senators - Clarke MacArthur (4th, 2nd of game) at 11:08, from Kyle Turris - EV
As if the Jackets needed more bad news, Wisniewski wasn't seen on the bench toward the end of the game, and we found out afterward that it was another broken finger. 1-2 weeks. Because, of course.
Final Score - 5-2 Senators
- David Savard - A great all-around game for Savard, with the goal and some good offensive instincts to go along with steady defense.
- Robin Lehner - Never looks rattled. The CBJ--as short-handed as they were--threw the kitchen sink at him. They could only beat him twice.
Bottom of the Barrel
- Eric Gryba - Come on, man. At least pretend like you aren't taking head shots. He'd better be suspended and lighter in the wallet come tomorrow.
- Jack Johnson - I wrote at one point that, after allowing a puck to undress him and hop out of the zone without any pressure, that he just looked disinterested. I don't know what's going on, but I'd like to put out an APB for Playoffs Jack.
- Ryan Murray - The kid just looks rusty. I know that will happen when you don't play for six months and miss all of the exhibition season, but he just looks a bit off still.
- Corey Tropp - We can debate the hit itself, but the timing and end result just killed the team.
Folks, it's going to probably get worse before it gets better. Anisimov is probably out for a bit with what looked like a concussion. Perhaps Foligno can go on Friday, but the Jackets' injury list just continues to grow as they're going to be down two more with Arty and Wiz out. They're deep in the wilderness right now.