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Recap: No Exit

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Hell is other hockey teams

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of Hell as being not the afterlife featuring blatant physical torture, but rather a punishment in the form of deprivation. Think of the myth of Sisyphus, tasked with rolling a boulder up a hill but doomed to always have the boulder roll down before he could reach the summit. Or Tantalus, standing in a pool of water underneath a branch of fruit, but unable to reach either. Or the play No Exit, in which 3 individuals find themselves trapped in a room together in the afterlife, each desiring something from the others that they will never receive, thus the famous line “hell is other people.”

Wait, isn’t this a hockey blog?

Oh, right. Sorry. I had a few drinks during the game and I tend to get what I call “philosophical drunk.” I do have a point, however! This game fits with that image of hell. A game in which the Jackets played well enough, but still lost by 4 points.

You’re not fooling anyone. You just wanted to make some pun based on the opponent being called the “Devils.”

Guilty!

This was the first matchup this season between Columbus and New Jersey. Both teams were coming off of overtime losses the night before, and it showed. Both teams were missing a step at first, and both were tentative as they felt each other out.

New Jersey drew first blood three and a half minutes into the first. Kyle Palmieri took the puck from Zach Werenski at the blue line and the rookie d-man lost his stick as well. To his credit he stayed with the play and used his speed to get in front of the streaking Travis Zajac. Unfortunately, Werenski had no stick to break up the play so the puck got to Taylor Hall who scored.

Remarkably, in this first period Columbus finally got a couple power plays. They had none in the last two games. Both PP units looked rusty, however. Not enough shots on goal.

This game was chippy from the beginning. Lots of shoving after the whistle. Even Bob got in on the action, getting penalized for slashing along with Palmieri late in the first period.

Despite being down 1-0 at the first intermission, Columbus held a narrow lead in shot attempts. For a second straight night, the Dubinsky-Atkinson-Jenner line led the way.

Two minutes into the second, Andy Greene fired a shot from the blue line right after a faceoff and Jacob Josefson tapped it in for a 2-0 lead. Low percentage shot and not much Bob could do to stop it. This would be the story of the night.

Late in the second, Boone Jenner took a roughing penalty and the Devils capitalized with a Zajac goal. It was a rebound goal while New Jersey had traffic in the crease. They had chances like this and Columbus did not. This has been a problem of late for the Blue Jackets.

It was at this point that many Cannon commenters were taking issue with the officiating. Both teams were playing a physical game but many potential penalties went uncalled, generally in New Jersey’s favor.

After 2 periods, Columbus still led in overall shot attempts despite trailing 3-0.

Boone Jenner was leading in corgi and appeared to get things rolling early in the third with a goal off a rebound after a Cam Atkinson wrap-around. New Jersey challenged, however, and the goal was overturned due to “significant goaltender contact” in the crease on the part of Jenner. It was the right call.

Columbus continued applying pressure and were dominating possession in the early third period. At 8:45 Jenner got sent off for tripping and Brandon Dubinsky was NOT happy about it. After a few, um, “unfriendly” words for the officials, he was sent off for a game misconduct. Torts sent out the PK unit of William Karlsson and Matt Calvert and they were rewarded with a shorthanded goal - Calvert’s third of the season.

The aggressive play by Columbus continued but still to not avail. Bob got pulled at the 3:30 mark but a quick turnover by Columbus in the offensive zone led to an empty net goal by Hall. The Devils added another goal in the final minute from Seth Helgeson (the first of his career).

In the end, it was a disappointing result for this homecoming game for the Blue Jackets. After taking two points in New York and one point in Pittsburgh, they should have taken at least one from a division bottom-dweller like New Jersey. The sellout crowd in Nationwide deserved better (and they rained down boos in third period - from my couch it wasn’t clear whether those were directed at the team or the officials).

In his postgame presser, Torts suggested that the team took the Devils lightly, despite that team being one of the better road teams over the last month. He also suggested that only a handful of players came to play. Certainly the Dubi line was solid, but the rest of the forward lines were very inconsistent.

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Still, the 5v5 Corgi was 59.77%. This game was far closer than the final score indicates.

The Jackets have Sunday off before practicing Monday then traveling to Detroit on Tuesday to face the Red Wings. Then they will try to avoid losing 3 straight games for the first time this season.