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Recap: The Columbus Blue Jackets are Undefeated in 2018

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The Columbus Blue Jackets answered the bell and won a tough road game over the Dallas Stars behind two goals from Oliver Bjorkstrand.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Dallas Stars

The Columbus Blue Jackets traveled to Texas last night to take on the Dallas Stars in their first game of the new year. The Blue Jackets were looking to right the ship, having been absolutely shellacked on New Year’s Eve by the Tampa Bay Lightning, the latest in their three game losing streak.

The Columbus Blue Jackets needed to get back to playing smart, simple hockey. As a result, “safe is death” now dead in an effort to combat the mental problems that have plagued the team of late. Even radio broadcaster Bob McElligott noted the problems the team was facing on yesterday’s CBJ in 30, talking about how the Blue Jackets of old surfaced Sunday night, mentally collapsing and resigning themselves to their fate (something that could not have made Torts happy at all.

The Blue Jackets made only one personnel change, moving Sergei Bobrovsky into the lineup, but shuffled the lines:

How did the new lines fare?

First Period

Columbus opened with a solid shift in the offensive zone from the first line. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski noticeably stayed toward the blue line, and Columbus was quick to hustle back in transition early. Columbus had the better run of play early, despite Josh Anderson being caught offside twice on two shifts. Sergei Bobrovsky made a nice save early while deep in his crease, a solid early sign in his return to play. A backhand pass from John Klingberg found Tyler Pitlick but Bobrovsky was equal to the challenge.

Jack Johnson made a great defensive play on Radulov at the 8 minute mark. Despite solid early play, Columbus didn’t register a shot on goal until there was 11:48 remaining in the period. Jordan Schroeder split the Stars defense and caught a pass from Markus Hannikainen but fired his shot wide of the net. The first line had a solid shift, with Jones, Panarin, Werenski, and Dubois all making solid plays (Nick Foligno was a passenger on that entire shift).

Jack Johnson, to his credit, made a couple nice plays early in this game, and it was the best he’s looked thus far this season. The third pairing hadn't pinched into the defensive zone one time through the first 12 minutes of the game. With 5:45 to go in the period, shots were tied 4-4.

The Jackets attempted to catch the Stars on a line change, but Bishop was able to save the shot from Seth Jones. With 3:56 to go, the Jackets went to the power play for the first time on the night. Jamie Benn went off for hooking Lukas Sedlak (who was apparently under Benn’s skin). After a Werenski shot was blocked, Faksa recovered for a breakaway but the puck rolled off his stick. The Stars were, unsurprisingly, able to kill the power play. It was a pretty miserable effort, all things considered. Bobrovsky made a big save late on a close attempt from Pitlick after Pitlick beat Jones to keep the Stars scoreless. That was a terrible late shift the first line, Jones was a pylon to Pitlick shortly after Artemi Panarin made a dreadful defensive zone turnover.

After 20 minutes, the teams were tied at zero. The Blue Jackets took 8 shots to Dallas’ 7.

Second Period

Dallas opened the second period with a push, making several dangerous goalmouth passes that went begging for a touch across the goal line. A long shot from the point at the two minute mark was saved by Sergei Bobrovsky as he saw it at the last second. On the ensuing shift, Pierre-Luc Dubois saw a diving shot turned aside by Bishop. Dallas ran a give and go with Janmark and Radulov but Bobrovsky was able to make a save after Dallas undressed the Columbus defense. Jack Johnson stopped moving and completely let two guys go unmarked in a play so disgracefully bad I would advocate sending him to Cleveland except I don’t want to wreck the Monsters’ defense.

Sonny Milano made an excellent play in a puck battle below the net, winning the puck and feeding Boone Jenner in front of the net, but Jenner completely wasted the chance, firing it high and wide of Bishop’s net. Nick Foligno took a shot from long distance (his first notable moment of the entire night) but it was an easy save for Bishop. Shortly after, he forced a neutral zone turnover. Nick Foligno positive counter: one. David Savard blocked a shot from Jason Spezza and was in serious difficulty at the 13:00 mark. He stayed on the bench for a moment before heading down the runway. On replay, it caught him on the ear and cut him pretty good. Jordan Schroeder owes Savard a beer after Schroeder’s turnover led to that situation.

Scott Harrington made a solid defensive play to break up a rush from john Klingberg before a Foligno shot was saved and held by Bishop at the other end. Seth Jones led a rush and crashed the net with 3:30 to go, but Bishop turned his effort aside. Columbus made a strong push at the end of the period after several rushes created through solid defending, but were unable to solve Bishop.

After 40 minutes, Columbus and Dallas were tied at zero. Columbus led on the shot counter 17-14. Notably, through two periods, Boone Jenner was 10/14 on faceoffs.

Third Period

Dallas opened the period with a push and John Klingberg capitalized almost immediately. Seguin was able to win a puck battle with Boone Jenner as the Jackets failed to clear the puck and Klingberg was able to beat Bobrovsky. There was no screen and the puck still squirted through Bobrovsky and trickled over the line. The puck may have taken a deflection in front, but it was tough to tell. There was also a defensive collapse there, none of the forwards were covering Klingberg’s side of the ice, much less Klingberg himself. It appeared to be Sonny Milano who blew the defensive assignment.

Dallas goal: Klingberg from Seguin and Shore, 0:44

Dallas maintained control of the puck for the next few minutes, but Columbus was able to answer against the run of play in the period. Matt Calvert forced a clearance after a VERY long shift and Bjorkstrand was able to gather the puck crossing into the Dallas zone and fire it past Bishop and tie the game.

Columbus goal: Bjorkstrand from Calvert and Sedlak, 4:54

Nearly immediately afterward (1:18 to be exact), Bjorkstrand scored again. He carried the puck over the line and fired it high over Bishop’s right shoulder and into the net. Wicked shot from a sharp angle.

Columbus goal: Bjorkstrand from Jones and Sedlak, 6:12

Dallas pushed hard after the second Bjorkstrand goal, but the Columbus defense held firm. Artemi Panarin fired a puck at Bishop after a turnover that trickled loose, but Bishop was able to grab ahold of it and prevent another goal. On a rush with speed, Josh Anderson lost control and wiped out Bishop, but there was no scrum.

An official change was made to the Dallas goal, confirming the deflection earlier: Devin Shore from John Klingberg and Tyler Seguin.

Dallas pressured the Columbus defense through the middle part of the period, but despite extensive zone time, the Stars could not find an equalizer. Into the final five minutes, the ice was tilting the Stars’ way (despite only registering 4 shots on the Columbus net to that point in the period). Columbus finally cleared the puck and Nick Foligno fired a shot from the blue line leading to an immediate rush the other way - I have no idea why Foligno made that play when possession and time away from Bobrovsky is of utmost importance. On the next shift, the Jenner line played an EXCELLENT possession shift in the Tampa zone, forcing several saves from Bishop.

Bobrovsky was able to turn aside a deflected Seguin shot with 2:30 to go. With 1:30 to go, the Stars pulled Bishop. Despite some solid Dallas possession, Bobrovsky was able to turn the Stars aside.

Final

Columbus Blue Jackets 2 Dallas Stars 1

Final Thoughts

Even with our currently depleted roster, Nick Foligno is not a first line player. He made some poor passes, was invisible for shifts, and took himself out of a lot of plays by aimlessly skating around. It’s frustrating to watch, but the captain is one of the worst players on the ice on a nightly basis right now.

Sonny Milano had a solid defensive game through two periods, even winning battles below the line. It’s an area of his game he needs to work on, so it was nice to see him make a stride there tonight. In the third, it came apart as he abandoned his defensive responsibility leaking out on what ended up being Devin Shore’s goal. Another up and down game from Milano.

The third line had a good night. Calvert had an assist and 2 blocks, Sedlak had 2 assists, and Bjorkstrand had 2 goals and 2 blocks in addition to playing solid defense. Could this be the beginning of another line stepping up?

Stick taps to Sergei Bobrovsky for getting career win #200. Awesome accomplishment. He played well after some poor outings in December. It was nice to see Bob bounce back.

The Blue Jackets played a solid road game. There were some blown assignments and some bad plays from guys, but the solid defensive players that you expect to come through did just that tonight putting in a workman’s performance to win a tough, grind it out game on the road. The team needed that performance to bounce back after some bad losses.

On to the next one. Go Jackets.