Are we sure this was in Columbus? My word, with the amount of red in the stands, you would have thought this game was in the United Center. Ah well. The Jackets took the ice after 5 days off, looking for their first win of the season. Would they find any success?
The Blue Jackets controlled play to open the game, looking very sharp and eager. The Jackets registered the first four shots on goal, including one by Lukas Sedlak on his first NHL shift. Scott Hartnell took a slashing penalty 4:44 into the period, and as it was nearly over, Ryan Murray took a delay of game, gifting the Blackhawks 14 seconds of 5 on 3 time. Sergei Bobrovsky made a stellar glove save, and the game remained tied 0-0 at the 10:00 mark of the period as the Blue Jackets exhibited a strong penalty kill, never allowing a high danger chance for the Hawks.
Immediately after the penalties, Nick Foligno drew a holding call, forcing the Blackhawks to the penalty kill, which has not been a strong suit of theirs this season. The Blue Jackets cashed in on a Zach Werenski shot from the blue line. Man, that kid is so good. He let a wrist shot go, seeing Crawford out of position, and was able to bury a shot from the point. 3 game point streak, 2 game goal scoring streak from the youngster. He’s gonna be special folks. Hell, I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy another player jersey, but he is making me seriously reconsider that promise.
With 5 minutes to go in the first period, Ryan Murray went to the locker room after an awkward hit from Brent Seabrook. Minutes later, Nick Foligno was in serious pain on the bench after taking a shot from the stick of Jack Johnson right in the stomach, but stayed on the bench to shake it off.
At the end of the first period, Columbus led 1-0, and outshot the Blackhawks (!) 18 to 10 (!!). Brandon Saad had 4 shots.
After a misplayed puck in the defensive zone by Boone Jenner, Jonathan Toews took the puck and walked in on Sergei Bobrovsky. Bob turned aside Toews’ shot, but was helpless to stop Tyler Motte on the rebound. 3 minutes in, and the Blackhawks had tied it up. The first couple minutes were completely controlled by the Blackhawks. Boone Jenner has been poor defensively to start this season.
Brandon Saad, minutes later, had a breakaway broken up. The Blue Jackets then drew a penalty as Richard Panik went off for roughing. On the power play, Zach Werenski fired another shot on net, and Nick Foligno buried it. 2-1 lead for Columbus at the 4:42 mark, 2nd point for Werenski on the night, first goal on the season for Nick Foligno.
Through the halfway mark of the game, one thing was noticeable- the Jackets were skating with the Hawks. I mean, actually skating and staying with the former champs. This is HUGE. I don’t think this team has ever been able to do that. They belonged on that ice.
At the 13:44 mark, the Blue Jackets cashed in again. At the end of a long shift, David Savard let a shot go from the point, and William Karlsson redirected it in. It was a long shift, but the Jackets managed to keep the puck in the offensive zone, cycle it, and get a quality chance. What a shift from the third line.
At the end of the period, the Hawks dominated possession with 90+ seconds in the Columbus end, but were denied from pulling any closer. That was a STRONG shift to close it out by Atkinson, Calvert, Dubinsky, Werenski, and Jones, and Sergei Bobrovsky shut the door. The Blue Jackets led 3-1 after 40 minutes, and an audible “SEE BEE JAY” chant on television.
With 20 minutes to go, could the Blue Jackets hold on and wrap up their first win of the season?
Just barely one minute into the period Cam Atkinson took a holding penalty, putting the Hawks on the power play to open the third. The Blue Jackets had a strong penalty kill, shutting down the Blackhawks. Matt Calvert put in an exceptional shift for the hometown union blue. The team’s penalty kill looks very strong to open this season.
Chicago pressed hard to open the third period and at the six minute mark, they were rewarded. A tic tac toe play (with some admittedly poor effort in the defensive zone from Columbus) saw Richard Panik reach around David Savard and bury a bouncing puck, drawing the Hawks within 1. Columbus, meanwhile, hadn’t registered a shot on goal in nearly ten minutes of game time, since Karlsson’s goal.
Matt Calvert had a stellar night. He’s been rewarded tonight with first line minutes, nearly scoring on a wraparound attempt at the 10:00 mark of the period. He has played extraordinarily well this season, and I’m happy to see his effort and hard work recognized by coaches, fans, and announcers alike.
To say the ice was heavily tilted toward Chicago in the third period is an understandment. The Hawks absolutely controlled play for much of the period, with the Jackets registering just two shots on goal (both from Calvert) in the first 14 minutes. Kane-Toews-Panarin was absolutely destroying Columbus but, the score held at 3-2. Brandon Saad, at the 5 minute mark, was denied on what seemed like his 26th breakaway chance of the night. It was his 7th shot of the night, tying his career high.
With 3:26 to go, Matt Calvert took a tripping penalty as he tried to steal the puck from a wandering Corey Crawford. It was an iffy call, but Calvert has to know better than to touch the goaltender in that situation- he’s always going to get called, ESPECIALLY against the Hawks.
Nervy moments. Penalty killed. 90 empty net seconds to go.
Matt Calvert, who else, cleared the puck with a minute to go. The Jackets held on, and registered their first points of the season.
Columbus Blue Jackets 3 Chicago Blackhawks 2
God, wins are fun.
Get well soon, Ryan Murray. He won’t join the team on the road trip, so expect Scott Harrington draw into the lineup at least once.
Skill to start the game, heart when it mattered. This team gutted one out, on the back of the captain, their rookie, and an in-form Sergei Bobrovsky. There were issues, particularly when the offense went into a shell in the third period, but that’s a topic for another time. That first period was excellent, and even Torts said it was the best period of the season. The penalty kill was incredibly strong tonight.
Tonight, this team is a winner. There is no more 0-8 talk. No more internal pressure. Last season? Forget about it. We’re off and running. We were led by the future of the club, and willed our way to a win against a very good hockey club. Not perfect, but good enough to get it done.
2 points. Oh, and Zach Werenski is going to be so very good. So so so good. He absolutely 100% looks like he belongs, and he’s only 19. He has so much room to grow. He’s going to be absolutely special for this club.
The Blue Jackets take on the Dallas Stars Saturday night at 8:00 PM EDT in Dallas.