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Recap: It’s Always Sonny in Columbus

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The kid wins it for Columbus.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets returned to the ice for the first time since their demolition at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks when they faced off against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. The Blue Jackets boasted new look lines, with Nick Foligno now playing alongside Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson while Alexander Wennberg would be partnered with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Torts hoped that the changes would add some grit and determination to each line.

This game also marked the return of Josh Anderson to the lineup after he missed camp and signed a new contract just before the season started. After a brief conditioning stint in Cleveland (and a physical test by Torts on Sunday), Anderson rejoined his teammates.

With Sergei Bobrovsky in net, could the Blue Jackets find a way to win?

First Period

Your Blue Jackets starters: Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Artemi Panarin, Zach Werenski, Seth Jones, and Sergei Bobrovsky. The Blue Jackets split last season’s series with the Hurricanes and looked to improve on that record.

Josh Anderson made his debut on the game’s second shift. He immediately set up shop in front of the Carolina net. Shortly after, Carolina had a 2 on 1 rush shot by Teuvo Teravainen denied by Bobrovsky as the ‘Canes notched the first shot on goal.

A solid shift from the fourth line forced Scott Darling to hold on to a shot by Markus Hannikanen, giving the first line an offensive zone faceoff. It was promptly won by Carolina, who cleared the zone.

There was a lot of sloppy play early in this one. The Blue Jackets were missing on a lot of passes in the first few minutes of the period, and several players were caught puck watching. Luckily, they were able to recover mostly and force Carolina wide, giving up only one shot in the first five minutes. IT appeared they were skating in mud: the team was utterly struggling to move their legs.

Carolina started to make a push shortly after the first five minutes passed (and they encountered very little resistance as they did so), but a sharp Sergei Bobrovsky was able to keep the ‘Canes at bay.

Three odd man rushes for Carolina in the first seven minutes. Can’t make this stuff up.

The fourth line put in yet another solid shift. Lukas Sedlak and Sonny Milano both made some nice moves to cycle the puck effectively in the Carolina zone.

At the halfway mark of the first period, faceoffs are Carolina 10, Columbus 3. Not great, Bob.

A solid shift from the third line sees Matt Calvert force a save with Josh Anderson waiting on the doorstep. The bottom six have shown up early tonight. Maybe they can find the top six and get them off the team bus and onto the ice at first intermission?

Credit the Blue Jackets defense, most of what Carolina has generated in the offensive zone (outside of rushes) has been to the outside. It’s been making life easy for Sergei Bobrovsky thus far, who made 7 saves in the first 13 minutes without any real difficulty.

The fourth line at it again. Sonny Milano fed Markus Hannikainen across the center of the ice, but his shot was stopped by Scott Darling.

At 14:33, the Blue Jackets would head to the box for the game’s first penalty. Nick Foligno hit Brett Pesce whose head went into the boards, earning Foligno a trip to the sin bin for boarding. There was no intent as Pesce fell, but it was undoubtedly a penalty.

The Blue Jackets killed the penalty with very little fanfare. It was an excellent penalty kill by the Jackets. Matt Calvert was denied a shorthanded chance by the stick of Darling.

Power play for the Jackets! Brett Pesce went off for holding Artemi Panarin after a turnover behind the Carolina net.

The power play, and the period, ended without the Blue Jackets finding the back of the net. Some sloppy play and failure to control the puck in the offensive zone (save a Panarin one timer) were the themes of that man advantage.

After twenty minutes, the teams were scoreless.

SECOND PERIOD

The Blue Jackets opened the period in their own zone as the Hurricanes spent two of the first three shifts in the CBJ zone. The Hurricanes were not able to generate a quality chance, but the CBJ were unable to clear their own zone.

Josh Anderson forced another neutral zone turnover and led a rush up ice. Clearly he is game ready.

Panarin draws another penalty. Jordan Staal was forced to hook Panarin after the winger just destroyed the ‘Canes captain.

Werenski forced a glove save on the power play, which was nice to see.

A scramble in front of the net saw Darling deny Brandon Dubinksy and Oliver Bjorkstrand on the doorstep. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, as they again failed to convert.

Sonny Milano moved up! He joined Bjorkstrand and Alexander Wennberg midway through the second period. He’s had a nice night thus far.

Sergei Bobrovsky was able to stop a Carolina shot on the doorstep at the 9 minute mark of the period, his first action in awhile.

Pierre-Luc Dubois basically just rushed his way into a half-breakaway, but his shot stick side was turned away.

Boborvosky denied the Hurricanes on the doorstep, but the Blue Jackets would head to the penalty box anyway at the mark. Cam Atkinson would head to the box for slashing with 8:43 to go in the period.

Despite a solid wall of skaters in front of Bobrovsky, Carolina was only able to generate one shot on goal and Columbus was able to kill the power play.

Lots of neutral zone play in the latter third of the period, with neither team really managing to set up shop in the offensive zone.

A loose puck in front of Cam Atkinson on a rush with David Savard wasn’t shoveled home as Scott Darling as able to keep it out.

The Torts line blender was back in effect, returning the top six lines to their opening night makeup. Coincidentally, with the defensemen also joining the rush, the team was looking more dangerous.

A nice shift by Carolina to end the period saw several shots turned aside, but Carolina was certainly the more aggressive team to end the period.

After forty minutes, the teams remained scoreless.

THIRD PERIOD

Goal: Don’t be the US Men’s National Team.

Zach Werenski led a rush up ice. That was fun.

Bjorkstrand forced a nice save from Darling that he had to cover at the 90 second mark.

UPDATE! Boone Jenner is progressing, but does not have a timetable for his return. Thanks for that, Jody Shelley.

Jack Johnson looked across the goal mouth for Anderson who was wide open on the far post but Darling just tipped it aside at the last minute.

The Jackets have clearly been the more aggressive team in the third period, and it paid off at the 5:06 mark. Klas Dahlbeck went off for slashing.

Cam Atkinson broke his stick on a chance in the slot, negating the best chance early in the power play.

Despite an excellent shift from the second unit, the Hurricanes were able to kill the power play.

Artemi Panarin did hit the post on the power play, which sucks.

Brett Pesce deflected a Panarin shot off of his collarbone. So, ow.

The Blue Jackets legs seem to have awakened in the third

BLUE JACKETS GOAL! It’s always Sonny in Columbus! Nick Foligno won an offensive zone faceoff and was able to bank the puck in off of Darling’s back at the 10:01 mark of the period. Nick Foligno and Oliver Bjorkstrand with the assists.

Dubois has been very active in the defensive zone, knocking pucks away and starting rushes up ice. It’s been nice to see.

The Jackets defense really clamped down after the goal. The ‘Canes pushed hard but never had a solid look on Sergei Bobrovsky, who was able to deny all 22 shots.

After a fluke bounce, Bobrovsky straight robbed Jordan Staal on the doorstep. That was so gross. Bobrovsky has been on his game tonight.

Carolina, after the final TV timeout, pushed hard. They generated several solid chances against Sergei Bobrovsky, all denied.

Matt Calvert was able to lead a rush up ice with 4 minutes remaining.

David Savard swept a lose puck away from Bobrovsky with 2:36 to go.

Carolina absolutely OWNING the puck right now, with the net empty with two minutes to go.

Goal Carolina. An absolutely awful pass saw Jeff Skinner tie the game off a failed clearing attempt by Markus Hannikainen with 1:25 to go. Deserved goal as Carolina owned the last 4 minutes and Columbus just packed it in completely. Disgraceful way to finish the game, really.

The teams would head to overtime tied at one.

BONUS HOCKEY

Penalty, Columbus. Artemi Panarin went off for hooking Jordan Staal to prevent a redirect attempt at the 1:01 mark.

Bobrovsky was able to glove the puck and hold on 40 seconds into the power play.

Bobrovsky denied Jeff Skinner on a slap shot halfway through the power play.

A Bobrovsky glove save denied Noah Hanifin at the 90 second mark.

The Jackets killed the power play in overtime. Solid effort on the PK from Bob, Jack Johnson, and Matt Calvert.

SONNY MILANO BREAKAWAY GAME WINNER

FINAL Columbus Blue Jackets 2 Carolina Hurricanes 1

FINAL THOUGHTS

Remember how, all last season, Torts preached the “fast start” by this team? We haven’t seen that in 2 of the first 3 games this year. This team has taken so much time to get into games this year. Giving up three odd man rushes in the first seven minutes of the game is inexcusable.

Someone (Foligno or Atkinson or someone else on the top line) has to start scoring goals. Badly. Teams are circling the skill players like Artemi Panarin, leaving other players to make plays. Thus far, they haven’t. That has to change going forward. It will open the ice up for the other players.

I’m not worried about how the power play looked tonight. Carolina had the best penalty kill in the league last season and flat destroyed us when we played them. It happens.

I’m gonna sound super hot-taek-y here, but we need another playmaker at center. As much as I love Nick Foligno, he’s not a center by trade and should not be trying to set up Artemi Panarin at all. He was also noticeably out of position defensively a lot. A line of Panarin and Anderson centered by Matt Duchene sounds nice, no? Come on Jarmo, just pay the price. The team needs a playmaker.

I am sick and tired of this team passing to guys just standing on the blue line. It was a stupid idea six months ago when it wasn’t working at the end of last season. Skate it in once in awhile.

The third period effort after the goal was not great. Too few passes to sticks, too many attempts to just chase the puck and then dump and change, too little effort to skate the puck into the Carolina zone to kill time and mitigate the ‘Canes push.

Bob was Bob. Nothing he could do on Skinner’s goal, and earned that W tonight.

Sonny Milano deserves his spot on this team. There’s not enough praise in the world for this kid right now. He’s going to have his struggles this season, but he has earned his spot. He started on the fourth line tonight, worked his way back up to the second line, scored both goals including the game winner. That’s just hard work and will to win (something the USMNT could take a lesson from, eh). I hope he’s a stud this season and can continue performing at a Calder Trophy pace.

Friday night in Nationwide against the New York Rangers. Go Jackets.