(a note: I am still angry about Monday night’s hilarious debacle, so I apologize if this recap is less than happy in tone)
After a three game road trip in which the Columbus Blue Jackets earned three of a possible six points, the team took on the Nashville Predators in what wasn’t a “must win” game per se, but a game where they could sorely use two points to put the third period of Monday night out of their minds.
Cam Atkinson made his return from injured reserve last night as he had fully recovered from his illness and hip injury. Zac Dalpe, after his boneheaded penalty, returned to the rafters to watch as a result. This shakeup brought a 30 goal scorer back into the fold while removing a player that has, frankly, been a liability his last few stints on the ice. Gabriel Carlsson returned as the seventh defenseman in the lineup, replacing Markus Hannikainen.
With Atkinson back, the lines shook out as follows:
Joonas Korpisalo got the start opposite Pekka Rinne. Kyle Turris would not debut for the Predators as he was having issues with regard to immigration. How did the Jackets respond?
First Period Recap
The Blue Jackets opened the game by taking a penalty thirty seconds into the game because, well, they don’t understand discipline. With David Savard in the box for tripping, the team was able to kill the penalty while allowing only one shot. Cam Atkinson made his return to the ice with a shift on the kill. Alexander Wennberg, of all people, forced a nice pad save on a tipped shot. Pierre-Luc Dubois looked solid early, looking for his shot. I can’t say enough positive things about his play early this season.
After the early penalty, the Blue Jackets appeared to settle down. The team maintained solid possession in the offensive zone while keeping the puck away from Joonas Korpisalo. Korpisalo, making his first start in ten days, made a nice save on a Cody McLeod tip at the 8 minute mark of the period. at the 8:57 mark, Alexei Emelin went off for tripping Artemi Panarin. The league worst power play took the ice with a first unit of Cam, Zach Werenski, Seth Jones, Artemi Panarin, and Nick Foligno. Zach Werenski hit the outside of the goalpost. The unit never registered an official shot on net while hitting the post. The second unit of Josh Anderson, Ryan Murray, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Sonny Milano, and Boone Jenner saw their shift killed as well. No shots on goal for that power play.
Markus Nutivaara found Oliver Bjorkstrand with a first touch stretch pass that saw a great shot attempt and a juicy rebound by Rinne, but there was no support from the rest of the team to clean up the rebound. That’s been a struggle all season - the team is just not there supporting each other.
Some end to end action took hold in the latter stages of the period, but neither team could register a shot on goal. At the 17:06 mark, Calle Jarnkrok went off for tripping Zach Werenski. Werenski let two shots go early, neither missing by much. The second unit took the ice and saw a shot deflected into the netting by Rinne. Despite a little more confidence, no goals yet again by the power play. The league worst unit continued apace.
In the last minute, Nashville pressed hard, forcing a few key saves from Korpisalo. Nick Foligno had a goal denied in the dying seconds on a centering pass from Brandon Dubinsky. The teams remained tied at zero after twenty minutes with shots favoring the Jackets 11-8.
Second Period Recap
Early in the second period, Pierre-Luc Dubois just missed on a tip attempt from Nick Foligno. A feed from Artemi Panarin to Cam Atkinson (seriously, this pass was cross ice and nuts) saw the resulting shot just tipped over by Rinne. Just after, Markus Nutivaara went to the box for hooking Scott Hartnell at 2:11. This kill went quite smoothly, even generating a few shots on goal for Columbus. End to end action followed to the first TV timeout.
After the timeout, a rebound from a Jenner shot just bounced away from Brandon Dubinsky. The Blue Jackets played very well through the first half of the period, Boone and Josh Anderson in particular. Cam Atkinson missed a shot as Panarin fed him through the crease. After a strong start to the game, Josh Anderson went to the box for slashing at 8:39. Korpisalo made several nice saves before finally clearing the puck with 70 seconds gone. Ryan Johansen split the defense on the power play before the puck was knocked off his stick, not allowing him to get a shot off. Despite a 2 on 1 while shorthanded, Jones turned the puck over as the penalty expired.
After a line change, Victor Arvidsson was able to find Matt Irwin on a cross ice pass where the Jackets lost track of the trailing Irwin (lots of puck watching from Columbus) and he was able to blow it past Korpisalo. The back door being open has been a problem all season and it bit the Blue Jackets again.
Predators goal: Irwin from Arvidsson and Ekholm, 12:36
After the goal, the Blue Jackets attempted to pressure the Predators. Zach Werenski was robbed by the glove on a feed from Panarin. Cam Atkinson saw a wraparound denied late in the period. Despite pressure from the home team, Pekka Rinne stood strong to keep the Predators leading 1-0 at the end of the second period.
An early push by the Predators saw Joonas Korpisalo turn several shots away to keep the deficit at one. The Blue Jackets gained a foothold (and offensive zone ice time) behind a strong shift by Sonny Milano and Nick Foligno.
Finally, the Blue Jackets broke through. After stripping the puck from P.K. Subban, Dubois streaked in on a breakaway and put it past Rinne high glove side.
Blue Jackets goal: Dubois, unassisted at 4:37
The Dubois goal seemed to energize the team as Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones both registered shots shortly after the goal. Jack Johnson, however, killed the momentum with an interference penalty as he held Arvidsson after losing the puck at 6:42 of the third period. That marked the fourth penalty taken by the Blue Jackets on the night. The Blue Jackets killed the penalty, allowing just one shot on the power play.
The Blue Jackets terrible power play took the ice just after that as Dubois drew a hooking penalty to Alexei Emelin at 9:28. The power play could not capitalize (and strangely, PLD did not get an opportunity with the man advantage).
A strong push from Nashville saw Korpisalo turn several chances away before the Predators were able to capitalize on a rush. On a give and go from their own end, Calle Jarnkrok was left all alone in the middle of the ice as he trailed entering the zone. After a Kevin Fiala shot, Jarnkrok was left unmarked by Cam Atkinson and was able to find the rebound and bury it past a sprawling Korpisalo.
Goal Predators: Jarnkrok from Fiala, 14:25
The terrible power play got yet another chance to leave its ark on a game. With 5:10 to go, Josh Anderson was tripped in the neutral zone by Filip Forsberg. Nick Foligno looked absolutely lost on the early part of the power play, drifting around aimlessly as the puck was eventually turned over. A lot of passing above the dots resulted in no shot on goal from the power play. Zach Werenski was unlucky on one opportunity, having an open net but the puck went off the heel of shit stick.
Nashville’s Victor Arvidsson iced the game with an empty net goal.
Goal Predators: Arvdisson from Salomaki, 19:44
Nashville Predators 3 Columbus Blue Jackets 1
3. Pekka Rinne
2. Pierre-Luc Dubois
- Calle Jarnkrok
The power play remains a complete and utter train wreck. Tonight it looked better with the addition of Seth Jones and the subtraction of Alexander Wennberg, but it’s still not good enough. According to today’s CBJin30 podcast, the team has 3 power play goals this season. That’s grounds for a firing.
The puck watching and inability to cover the back post and trailing skaters is infuriating. That trend has been a problem all season, biting the team again and again (tonight and against the Tampa Bay Lightning most notably). This is an issue the coaching staff HAS to get fixed. Both Nashville goals were a result of Nashville players being left unmarked in front of the net. That’s basic fundamentals of hockey and completely inexcusable.
Joonas Korpisalo played well enough to win tonight. He wasn’t directly at fault for either goal, despite some rebound control problems. His skaters left him out to dry by failing to mark skaters on both goals. There’s nothing he can do when guys are standing wide open in the slot.
The penalty kill looked better (low bar was low after Monday night). At least they didn’t give up a goal while down a man and even generated a couple chances in the third.
At some point, the goal scorers have to figure out how to put the puck in the net. Artemi Panarin has 2 goals. Nick Foligno has 3. Cam Atkinson has 4. Alexander Wennberg has 1 and he didn’t even shoot it. Zach Werenski has more goals than Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky combined. That’s a joke. Start shooting the puck and crashing the net. Find ways to get dirty, greasy goals. Something. Anything. If the goal scorers will not score goals, then this team is going nowhere. Period.
The power play sucks. 0 for 4 including ONE AND ONLY ONE high danger chance (the Werenski effort in the third period, per NaturalStatTrick) is a complete joke. The definition of insanity is
doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results this stupid power play. I thought about writing more to analyze it, but I passed that idea to someone else above the faceoff circles to waste more time.
Pierre-Luc Dubois had an incredible night, easily his best as a Blue Jacket, and he was rewarded with a goal after stripping the puck from Subban. Somehow he didn’t earn power play time in the third despite his stellar play all night, which is just mystifying. Hopefully Dubois’ game can continue to grow and develop. He’s the real deal.
Torts discussed how the Blue Jackets could not score goals when they absolutely needed it which continues to be a struggle for this team, especially on the power play. Eventually, this team has to score goals to win games and they’re just not finishing any chances right now.
The Blue Jackets take the ice again Friday night. The team is 4-5-1 in their last 10 and host the struggling Carolina Hurricanes. Hopefully the team can a) write the ship and b) figure out how to put a power play goal in the net for the fourth time in what will be seventeen games on Friday.