The Columbus Blue Jackets traveled north of the border last night to take on the Montreal Canadiens in the first night of a back to back. The Jackets have two back to backs this week (thanks for that, hockey gods), so taking advantage of opportunities would be critical for the team in their quest to maintain positioning at the top of the Metropolitan Division.
At the other end of the ice, Carey Price took the ice for the second time after missing ten games with injury. On the injury front, Shea Weber missed the game with an injury for Montreal, leaving an already thin blue line even shakier. For Columbus, Matt Calvert and Alexander Wennberg did not play, but both traveled with the team and skated before the game.
Sergei Bobrovsky, fresh off of being named the second star of the week in the NHL, got the start in net. With the start, Bobrovsky surpassed Marc Denis for the most games played in Blue Jackets history.
Montreal opened the first period on the front foot. Several rushed up ice saw chances blocked away from the front of the net before Bobrovsky saw the puck. Following Cam Atkinson failing to secure the puck between the offensive circles (coupled with Seth Jones pinching down), Brendan Gallagher took a rush up the ice and Montreal was able to capitalize.
Montreal goal: Brendan Gallagher, unassisted, 3:11
After Montreal scored on their first shot on net, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Anderson were able to drive a shift in the offensive zone. Brandon Dubinsky was able to draw a holding call on Phillip Danault at 4:45. Josh Anderson took a spot on the first power play unit, replacing Oliver Bjorkstrand as Torts continued to look for chemistry. Nick Foligno had the best chance early, but he was not able to jam it home. There would not be another solid chance, and the Canadiens killed the power play. Lukas Sedlak had a chance after the power play ended, but the puck rolled off his stick.
Shortly after, the Canadiens would get their first man advantage as David Savard went off for holding at 8:03. It did not take the Canadiens long to capitalize as Jonathan Drouin scored after a lost faceoff. The puck cycled to Drouin who buried it behind Bobrovsky.
Montreal goal: Drouin from Petry and Galchenyuk, 8:10
After the goal, NIck Foligno picked up the puck on a turnover and put a shot on Price that was denied. After a scramble, Gallagher walked down the middle of the ice and threw a wide open shot on Bobrovsky that was denied. After the ensuing faceoff, Artemi Panarin led a rush up ice before dropping a pass to Ryan Murray, but it was saved. David Savard then went back to the box after committing an interference penalty at 9:39. Despite near-constant offensive zone pressure, the Canadiens were unable to capitalize. Montreal clearly was the better team through twelve minutes and it wasn’t even close.
Sergei Bobrovsky was able to rob Nicolas Deslauriers on a rolling puck in the slot with the tip of his glove. On the next shift, Brandon Dubinsky deflected a shot with his stick and it ricocheted up into his face, but he finished the shift and appeared okay on the bench. Panarin then found Dubois in the slot but his shot hit the far post. After some end to end action, we came to the end of the period.
After twenty minutes, Montreal led 2-0, and held and advantage in shots 11-6.
The Blue Jackets juggled the lines, moving Motte up with Dubinsky and Jenner. That line generated an early chance and drew a penalty as Gallagher went off for slashing at 0:27. Despite solid pressure, the team was unable to make a chance happen for the entirety of the power play, going without a shot. Just as it ended, the Jackets went back to the power play as Drouin went off for tripping at 2:58. Dubois had the best chance of that power play as he found a loose puck and put it on net but was saved by Price. Werenski then found a loose puck and fired it off of the top of the crossbar. A better power play, but still no goals.
Montreal found their footing after the first timeout of the second period, but went back to the box immediately for goaltender interference after Froese dumped Bobrovsky. Jenner forced a Price save that led to a massive scramble (and the best chance of any power play tonight) but could not bury the play. The second unit started and played better than anything we saw from the first unit all night.
Despite moving their feet more in the second period, the Jackets just could not find a reward for their play. After stealing the puck in the defensive zone, Panarin caught Montreal on a line change and found Josh Anderson but the puck just rolled off his stick. Price, on the next shift, was able to deny a shot and a follow up rebound from Savard. On the ensuing rush, Deslauriers dove and chipped a puck toward Bobrovsky who was able to stick it aside.
With minutes to go in the period, the Jackets finally found the back of the net. Josh Anderson took the puck with speed and jammed the side of the net. Carey Price made the save, but Pierre-Luc Dubois buried the follow up. Montreal challenged the goal as Anderson may have knocked the stick away from Carey Price. After review, the call on the ice was confirmed as there was no goaltender interference.
Columbus goal: Dubois from Anderson and Panarin, 16:08
After some end to end action, neither team could find the back of the net again. Through forty minutes, Columbus trailed 2-1 on the scoreboard but led 24-17 on the shot counter.
More control of the puck in the second period for #CBJ. Good shot locations.— Alison (@AlisonL) November 28, 2017
57.14% of 5v5 shot attempts and 58.33% of scoring chances in the middle frame.
Dubois halves the Habs lead: 2-1. pic.twitter.com/3giF494DL7
After a Petry shot deflected twice in front of the net, Bobrovsky was able to make the save and collect the rebound. Milano then led a two on one rush up ice and tried to make a play, but it was deflected aside. Milano should have picked his spot earlier, he was too close to the net there. Columbus looked to be generating most of the pressure early in the period, but Montreal did well to keep the puck to the outside. Cam Atkinson saw a shot sticked aside before Zach Werenski’s wrister went just wide. Zach Werenski was having a solid night, as was PLD. A turnover from Nutivaara let Galchenyuk rush in on Bobrovsky but his goal mouth pass found no one.
After several minutes of end to end action, a loose puck came to Cam Atkinson on the goal mouth but he could not beat Price. On an ensuing rush, Drouin’s effort sailed wide of Bobrovsky. Shortly after, Seth Jones became the third Jacket to hit the post in this game as it ricocheted off of Jordie Benn’s stick. The Jackets were dominating play, but could not find the back of the net. Nick Foligno, however, would kill the momentum by taking an offensive zone roughing penalty in retaliation for a hit on Cam Atkinson. Bobrovsky made a wizard save to deny Gallagher on a rush and keep it a one goal game. Shortly after, De La Rose went to the box for holding Dubois.
If ever the Jackets needed a goal, now was the time. The Jackets were oh-for-four on the power play with eight shots heading into this chance. Bjorkstrand and Jenner had chances early, but both were denied. A 90 second offensive zone shift for the second unit was denied by Montreal, however, and power play came to nothing.
A bad bounces led to chances for both teams but Cam Atkinson, Drouin, and Panarin all saw chances denied. With 1:45 to go, the Jackets pulled Sergei Bobrovsky in an effort to find an equalizer, but Montreal potted an empty netter.
Montreal goal: Shaw from Pacioretti and Plekanec, 18:36
Montreal Canadiens 3 Columbus Blue Jackets 1
Third: Pierre-Luc Dubois
Second: Brendan Gallagher
First: Carey Price
The first power play unit is junk. Evergreen comment.
72 attempts, 38 shots on net, one goal. The Jackets have got to find a way to finish. Players like Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Sonny Milano have to start finding the net. They cannot count on Bobrovsky to bail out the floundering offense on a nightly basis.
Actually, let’s talk about the power play some more. Boone Jenner, Zach Werenski, and Oliver Bjorkstrand were firing the puck at will, creating rebounds and scrums and generated solid chances below the hash marks. The first unit could take a lot of lessons from that, because it looked absolutely horrible in comparison, featuring a lot of passing, a lot of standing around, and significantly helped contribute to to the team going 0-5 en route to a loss.
#CBJ power play now 6/67 on the season, under 9%. Hideous.— Mark Scheig (@markscheig) November 28, 2017
One more PP note. Last 60 games overall in regular season, #CBJ is 13/138 on the man advantage.— Mark Scheig (@markscheig) November 28, 2017
Ended last season on 7/71 and started this season on 6/67.
What makes it stunning is how good they gave been at 5v5.
Pierre-Luc Dubois looks great, and looks like he has found real chemistry with Anderson and Panarin. Positives.
No rest for the weary, as the Blue Jackets return to Columbus tonight to take on the Carolina Hurricanes. Preview to come later, with a faceoff at 7:00. Go Jackets.