Former Blue Jacket Ryan Johansen would make his first return to Columbus. Could the Blue Jackets dig deep and get one more win before the break?
First Period: Well you’re up at dawn/kid, look alive
For the third straight game, the Blue Jackets were playing a team on the second leg of a back-to-back. Nashville had lost on Saturday night in Minnesota. Despite that, it was the Predators that came out of the gate playing harder. The Preds opened the scoring with a long bomb by Roman Josi getting tipped in by Ryan Ellis.
After that, however, the Blue Jackets took control. They played like they had for the last week, with all four lines pushing hard. Most of the play was in Nashville’s end of the ice. The Jackets’ passing was better than it had been at any time since the streak. And yet, rookie goaltender Juuse Saros stood tall and kept the goal empty.
Second Period: You’ve been saving for a big mancave/good luck with that, Dave
The opening of the second continued like the first, then disaster struck. Sergei Bobrovsky made a clearing pass to Alexander Wennberg, but his attempt to center the puck got intercepted right away by Mike Fisher. It was a pass that Wennberg should not have made. The loose puck was collected by Kevin Fiala in the slot. Bob came WAY out of the crease to to challenge Fiala, but missed and Fiala sent the puck into the open net.
Shortly thereafter, Nashville had a great chance but Bob matched with an equally great save:
Within 29 seconds, the Jackets finally got a goal of their own:
The first assist on that goal went to former Predator Seth Jones. Brandon Saad got credit for the goal, despite way too many Columbus fans being disappointed with his play lately (actually, Saad is good).
The next goal was controversial. Bob attempted to freeze the puck, but before any whistle blew, James Neal poked it free and Calle Jarnkrok tipped it in. Bob thought the play should have been blown dead, and let the refs know his feeling, both after that play and at the end of the period. I think the refs made the right call; Bob never had secure possession of the puck. If he had then the puck would not have been so cleanly knocked away.
Again, the Jackets responded. Wennberg redeemed himself by displaying his great puck protection skills then making a beauty of a pass to the great Ollie BJORKSTRAND. That’s his second goal in third games, for those keeping track (third in three, had the refs in the Pittsburgh game not been awful).
Third Period: You’ve made the most of your retirement plan/better learn to drive that RV, man
In the fourth minute of the third period, it appeared that finally the Jackets’ hard work had paid off. Wennberg carried the puck into the zone, then found a streaking Zach Werenski. He skated closer and fired a shot on goal. With that goal, he earned his first three point night of his career. The game was now tied, finally.
After that, fatigue started to set in. Nashville caught Columbus in an ill-timed line change and in the ensuing 5-on-4, Filip Forsberg skated around every Columbus player before feeding Mattias Ekholm. It was like watching a player skate around traffic cones. Absolutely embarrassing defensive lapse.
Matt Calvert left the game and Torts started shuffling the lines. As you can see, he tried a little bit of everything:
After the game, Torts complimented that Foligno-Wennberg-BJORKSTRAND combination. Expect to see more of that after the break.
The Blue Jackets get this week off before returning on Saturday afternoon to face the Islanders in the final game of the 7 game homestand. They have gone just 3-3 so far, though only the Vancouver game was a bad loss. This game featured good effort for the first 45 minutes or so. It’s unfortunate that Nashville converted on the few chances they had in the first two periods.