After 3 points in 2 games in Florida, could the Columbus Blue Jackets end their road trip on a positive note in New York?
Before the game, former Jacket captain Rick Nash was honored by both teams for playing his 1000th NHL game. I still have conflicted feelings about Nash’s time here, but that kind of longevity is worth a stick tap.
Not much happened in the opening frame. The Rangers owned the shot clock, 10-4, but there was not much flow to the game.
With the injury to Matt Calvert, the Jackets unveiled some new forward lines:
Things picked up right away in the first shift of the second period. After a lengthy scoring drought, Artemi Panarin finally broke through with his second goal of the season (both against the Rangers). Zach Werenski fed the puck to Bread in the middle, who shot immediately. The shot missed, and Werenski recovered behind the net. He sent it back to the middle and this time Panarin’s shot was true.
The Jackets gained momentum from that and continued to drive play. Four minutes later, Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara broke up a Rangers entry. Murray fired the puck from blue line to blue line, where it was received by a streaking Josh Anderson. He fired from the right faceoff circle to make it a 2-0 game.
Anderson now leads the team with 6 goals on the season.
Also in the second, the Jackets got their chance to unveil a new-look power play (of course, they only got 1 power play vs. New York’s 5. More on that later). Alex Wennberg found himself on the bench for both shifts. Instead the first unit was Jones, Werenski, Panarin, Foligno, and BJORKSTRAND. They actually got some shots on goal! The second unit was Savard, Milano, Dubinsky, Anderson, and Jenner. They had some looks, but Milano struggled with the puck.
New York got one back in the second. JT Miller fell but managed to swing the stick while on his stomach. The puck found Michael Grabner, who tapped it in. Bill Davidge pointed out at the break that Savard and Johnson didn’t have their sticks on the ice, which could have deflected the puck and prevented the goal.
Five minutes into the third, Panarin went to the box for high sticking. Kevin Shattenkirk capitalized with a long range power play goal. It appears it deflected off Foligno, and Chris Krieder did a good job of shielding Sergei Bobrovsky.
Three minutes later the Jackets took the lead again, this time off the stick of my boy BJORKSTRAND. Most of the credit goes to Boone Jenner, who managed to carry the puck into the zone while using his body to protect it from the defender on his hip. A shot on net missed, but Dubinsky recovered behind the net and attempted a wrap-around. BJORKSTRAND was perfectly positioned to tap it in. That’s his fifth goal on the season, all in the last 8 games.
From here it all went to hell. Zac Dalpe was victim of a heavy hit, and he took offense. First he throw an elbow, then a shove. It was a dumb penalty and ill-timed: it came with a one goal lead, and in the offensive zone. As with so many offensive zone penalties, the resulting power play was converted. Chris Krieder got the tying goal.
Shortly thereafter Savard went off for tripping, and the Rangers wasted no time, with Pavel Buchnevich scoring off the faceoff.
In the final minute, an empty net goal by Grabner sealed the deal.
After a sloppy first period, the Jackets entered the second intermission feeling pretty good about getting a key 2 points on the road and in the division. Instead, a series of bad penalties and a weakened penalty kill unit cost them the game. The PK had only allowed 6 goals all season, then allowed 3 in one period tonight. It’s quite possible they are that affected by the loss of top killers Matt Calvert, Cam Atkinson, and Lukas Sedlak.
Zac Dalpe’s penalty is unacceptable and he should be scratched for the foreseeable future.
Anderson and BJORKSTRAND continued their hot play. Panarin’s goal was an encouraging sign.
The Blue Jackets don’t have long to dwell on this, as they return home and host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.