The primary storyline going into this game was the debut of Seth Jones, who was paired with Ryan Murray for the game. Despite being on the ice for (by my count) three of Carolina's goals, I thought Jones played with poise and at times was able to show his mobility. He was also able to get a few shots through traffic, which is something sorely lacking from Columbus blueliners this season. It's only one game, but early returns are positive.
The battle in net last night was between Anton Forsberg and Cam Ward, and both goaltenders performed well. It's fight or flight time for Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo: they are being given a massive, albeit difficult opportunity to show what they are made of.
The first half of the opening period was fast, but sloppy for both squads. It wasn't until the midpoint of the opening period that the Jackets had their first decent offensive chance, and it came thanks to some hard work by the Jackets' fourth line. Rene Bourque fired the puck on-net, where it was redirected by Gregory Campbell, but Ward was there to keep the game scoreless.
With Bourque on an expiring contract, it would be great if he could crank up his game leading up to the trade deadline, so the Jackets can get something for him at the deadline. He's actually been good in limited minutes this season, and I think he could add some depth to a contender.
With 5:49 left in the period, Jack Johnson was whistled for interference. Forsberg and the penalty killers did a great job of defeating the man advantage, but with three seconds left the goose egg was broken. Jaccob Slavin wired a shot toward the Columbus net, where it was redirected by Jordan Staal.
With just over a minute left in the first, Scott Hartnell was sent to the box for high-sticking. The penalty would bleed over into the second period, but was eventually killed off.
Random observation: I'm envious of the powerplay pairing of Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin.
Nick Foligno took a hooking penalty about three minutes in, and this is notable for a terrific defensive break-up by Jones while on the kill. The kid showed his huge wingspan in knocking the puck to the corner. With some bulk, he'll be a hell of a force in front of the net.
There was a scary moment a couple of minutes later, when Jackets' All Star Brandon Saad collided awkwardly with Jay McClement, with Saad seemingly twisting his right ankle. He would later return to the game, allowing CBJ fans to exhale.
The Jackets got on the board midway through the second period, while on a five-on-three. Brandon Dubinsky was to the left of Cam Ward, and attempted a cross-crease pass, but in doing so sent the puck off the skate of J.M. Liles, tieing the game.
The Jackets earned another five-on-three chance shortly after, but were unable to convert. This would prove to be a huge turning point in the game.
With the game tied, and the Jackets reeling from an unsuccessful two-man advantage, the 'Canes were able to take the lead. With 5:25 left, Cody Goloubef misplayed the puck behind his net, allowing Kris Versteeg to get the puck to Noah Hanifin at the point. Hanifin shot the puck toward Forsberg, where it was redirected by Elias Lindholm in the slot and into the net.
For those keeping track at home, the first two Carolina goals were off deflected point shots. Take note, CBJ defense. It doesn't hurt to float a puck on-net every once in a while.
Early in the third period, another scary moment, this one worse than the Saad collision. Foligno was in the process of passing the puck when he was hit blind side by Brad Malone. I sincerely believe that Malone had no ill-intent, but nonetheless Foligno was rocked up high by Malone, with the Columbus captain falling to the ice, motionless. It took some time before Foligno was able to get to his feet, but when he did so it was clear on the broadcast that he had the thousand-yard stare of a man who's bell was viciously rung.
Midway through the period, Boone Jenner took the puck hard to the Carolina net, and amid a scramble Cam Atkinson briefly raised his arm in goal celebration. The play was whistled down and called no-goal. Just as the ensuing faceoff was taking place, the horn blasted to indicate a review from Toronto. It was determined that though the puck crossed the line, it was due to Ward being pushed into the net. No goal.
Carolina would then go up by two goals. Chris Terry was the guy without the puck in a 'Canes two-on-one, and after receiving the puck, his initial shot was stopped by Forsberg, but he was able to bat the rebound in the air and into the net. You can't fault Forsberg, but you can tell the young goaltender thought he should have made the stop.
On the faceoff following the Terry goal, Malone had to answer for the Foligno hit. Dubinsky was the challenger, and the fight was a draw, until Malone got the take down.
Coach John Tortorella pulled Forsberg with 2:38 left, and despite good pressure there was nothing to be had for the Jackets. With a minute left, Eric Staal made an appearance, finding Lindholm for the empty-netter.
FINAL SCORE: 4-1 Hurricanes
For the advanced stats for this game, be sure to check out War on Ice.
The Jackets compete the home-and-home with the 'Canes tonight in Columbus.