The Columbus Blue Jackets traveled to what is typically known as the Sunshine State (though not this week - best wishes to all affected by Hurricane Michael, may you and your loved ones stay safe) to take on the Florida Panthers. The Panthers, playing just their second game of the season, hosted their home opener to their team’s 25th season in franchise history.
In Blue Jackets notes, the team started Joonas Korpisalo on the first game of the road trip. The lineup, outside of the crease, remained unchanged from the team that beat Colorado 5-2 on Tuesday night in Columbus. For the Panthers, former Jacket and former captain Derek Mackenzie missed the contest after suffering an injury in the first game.
The Blue Jackets, looking to win their third game of four and second road game to open the season sought to spoil the celebrations at the BB&T Center. Here’s what unfolded.
The Blue Jackets started on the front foot with Zach Werenski getting a solid look on Florida goaltender James Reimer in the first minute after Artemi Panarin hustled to negate an icing call early while dancing around two Panthers players. Columbus jumped out to a 4-1 advantage in shots in the first three minutes, forcing Reimer into early work. After that, Florida answered with a flurry that Joonas Korpisalo proved equal to, limiting rebounds and looking poised in the crease. Reimer was able to deny Dubois on a 3 on 2 with 4:30 gone in the period.
Alexander Wennberg, like he did on Tuesday night, took the first penalty of the game. He was boxed for holding Evgenii Dadanov at 6:58 of the first period. Columbus, having killed six of their first eight penalties this season, went to work on their ninth. Florida went with an interesting look for their power play, icing five forwards and no defensemen. Korpisalo made two saves in the dying seconds of the penalty to keep Florida scoreless as Columbus killed the penalty. Korpisalo looks extraordinarily confident early in this season. The “just after a kill” line of Panarin, Dubois, and Anthony Duclair took the ice - Torts wants to get this line shifts after penalties, per the CBJ in 30 podcast today.
After the third television timeout of the period, the Panthers took control until a Boone Jenner breakaway helped to cause chaos and draw a penalty as holding was called on Florida’s Vatrano. 30 seconds in, Panarin was tripped by Michael Mathewson and earned the Blue Jackets a 5 on 3. Zach Werenski, after a nifty pass from Artemi Panarin, buried a one timer on Reimer’s glove side to give the Jackets a 1-0 lead with the two man advantage.
Columbus goal, 1-0: Werenski from Panarin and Atkinson, 13:29
It went down as Werenski’s first point of the season, sure to be the first of many. Columbus took an offensive zone penalty with under five minutes to go as Josh Anderson went to the box for slashing. Those types of penalties are killer - Columbus was owning the end of the period before that mistake. Korpisalo made a stellar save as the penalty ended and that set a rush up the ice that ended in a bad line change by Florida. As Florida changed, Artemi Panarin streaked through the middle of the ice and buried a breakaway top shelf over Reimer.
Columbus goal, 2-0: Panarin from Dubois, 17:20
With under a minute to go, Columbus did what they always do - give up a late momentum killing goal. Aleksander Barkov took the puck up the wing and found Evgenii Dadanov on the far wing who buried the puck behind Korpisalo.
Florida goal, 2-1: Dadanov from Barkov, 19:49
Columbus took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Columbus also outshot Florida 17-11 for the first 20 minutes.
Could the Blue Jackets avoid second period woes that seem to befall them every game? Spoiler alert: no.
Vatrano for Florida had the best opportunity early, missing a wide open net on a cross ocice feed. Florida, buoyed by momentum from the late goal, took control of the opening minutes and pushed the Jackets back onto their heels. After spending the better part of two minutes in their own zone, Florida hit the post and a crossbar, narrowly missing the equalizer. Columbus clearly spent the first four minutes of the period chasing the play as Florida was able to control the puck at will. With 4:20 gone in the second period, Florida had the advantage in shots in the period 7-0. Not good enough from Columbus. Florida was rewarded for their play as Nutivaara slipped and fell and Florida went on an odd man rush. A complete defensive miscommunication between Murray, Dubois, and Panarin led to all three Panthers players getting behind the defense and tying the game.
Florida goal, 2-2: Barkov from Dadanov, 6:29
Seven minutes into the period, Columbus still had not registered a shot on goal. Florida: eleven. The disgraceful period continued as Troy Brouwer was able to defect a puck into the back of the net on their thirteenth consecutive shot to open the period.
Florida goal, 2-3: Brouwer from Pesek, 8:57
It cannot be overstated how terrible Columbus looked in this period. The team couldn’t skate, looked to make cute individual moves, showed little creativity in passing, and looked like a bag of cats in the defensive end. At some point, blame must fall on the coaching staff for continually awful second periods. Torts called his team together for a ... vocal pep talk during a television timeout. With 10:46 gone in the period, Florida had 15 shots on goal, Columbus 0. Zero. An utterly disgraceful effort all around, in all three zones.
Columbus earned a power play as Cam Atkinson was tripped in the neutral zone by Petrovic shortly after he notched the team’s first shot on goal of the period. On the power play, Anthony Duclair was able to capitalize and score his first goal as a Blue Jacket on a no-look feed from Panarin.
Columbus goal, 3-3: Duclair from Panarin and Werenski, 12:16
The Blue Jackets went 17 minutes of game time between shots on goal, for what it’s worth.
The goal seemed to settle Columbus down. The team looked more comfortable and less like a group of five year olds playing soccer chasing the puck in their defensive zone, leading to more clean zone clearances and stronger neutral zone play.
Rimer noted, in an almost offhand way, that Seth Jones is ahead of schedule. That’s good news - this period proved how much Columbus needs him on the ice.
For the second consecutive period, Columbus shot themselves in the foot late. Ryan Murray turned the puck over right to Nick Bjugstad on the blue line and Florida wasted no time capitalizing on it.
Florida goal, 3-4: Bjugstad from Dadanov and Yandle, 19:51 (are you kidding me)
Florida utterly caved Columbus in. There is no excuse for that period. Florida outshot Columbus 22-5 in the second period.
4-3 after two in Sunrise. #CBJ struggled to just 26.83% of all 5v5 shot attempts in the period, 22% of the scoring chances and 20% of hi-danger attempts.— Alison (@AlisonL) October 12, 2018
Shot heat maps 5v5 and ALL situations: pic.twitter.com/XIK4pnyBLu
Boone Jenner scored to open the third period. On an offensive zone face-off, the Jackets win the puck and Jenner fired the puck at the net and it beat Reimer, who never saw it.
Columbus goal, 4-4: Jenner from Harrington and Nash at 1:15
Riley Nash registered his first point as a Jacket with his assist on Jenner’s goal. Columbus opened the third period like they should have the second. A solid shift from the first line following the goal nearly saw Panarin and Dubois score and Reimer was hanging on for dear life.
Jenner-Nash-Anderson seemed to be the line to take control of the third period. Between that line and the first line, Columbus was pushing the pace when those guys were on the ice. Despite the success of Duclair on the night, Wennberg and Foligno were disappointments on the night. Korpisalo made a stellar save to keep the score tied as the teams went to the first television timeout of the period.
Despite end to end action through the middle part of the period, neither team registered a solid scoring chance. Florida continued to edge Columbus in shots 40-27. As the teams went to the final television timeout of the period, the teams had settled in to an end to end game, confined to the corners and the neutral zone for the most part. An extended shift i the Florida zone saw a solid chance from Anthony Duclair with 5:09 to go.
Zach Werenski was able to deny Aleksander Barkov in a one on one situation with 4:30 to go. On the ensuing rush, Dubois was denied on a rush up the right wing.
Cam Atkinson buried the go-ahead goal late in the game. On a negated icing play, a scramble in front of the net and a lose puck in front fell to Atkinson with 2:46 to go who buried it with his backhand. The Panthers challenged for goaltender interference, and the goal was upheld.
Columbus goal, 5-4: Atkinson from Nutivaara and Panarin, 17:14
Florida pulled their goaltender with 90 seconds to go. Despite not scoring an empty net goal, Columbus was able to see the game out and get the win.
Columbus Blue Jackets 5 Florida Panthers 4
First star: Artemi Panarin (one goal, three assists)
Second Star: Anthony Duclair (one goal, 20:47 TOI)
Third Star: Aleksander Barkov (one goal, one assist)
- The second period was absolutely [REDACTED FOR CIVILITY] abysmal. The Columbus Blue Jackets got away with one tonight - a team like Tampa, Washington, Pittsburgh, or San Jose buries the Jackets in that period and the Jackets don’t have a chance of coming back. These are the teams Columbus will have to go through to get to where they want to be at the end of the season. The team has 78 games to get these issues cleaned up, but make no mistake - they have to get them cleaned up, or they will again be going home early in April.
- Torts said the second period was “one of the most stubborn, arrogant periods of hockey I’ve seen this team play as far as what they think they can do in the National Hockey League.” He also added that it will be an excellent teaching moment.
- The defensive corps misses Seth Jones. So much. Zach Werenski and Markus Nutivaara are performing admirably in his absence, but Ryan Murray and David Savard are both playing probably one pairing too high in the lineup. Hopefully the Blue Jackets can get healthy sooner rather than later and welcome their Norris Trophy candidate back.
- Alexander Wennberg was dreadful in Sunrise. Consistency has never been the Swedish center’s game, and it was missing tonight. He posted a solid 22.73% CF%
- The power play went 2 for 3 on the night, including cashing in on a 5 on 3 opportunity for the second time this season. Encouraging signs early from a unit that struggled for much of the last 18 months.
- Anthony Duclair registered his first goal as a Blue Jacket, and he had a great night leading the team in expected goals at 5v5 and in all situations. At just 23 and an RFA at the end of the season, Duclair is making a strong statement early.
- Stick taps to Riley Nash for notching his first point as a Jacket as well.
- Joonas Korpisalo, despite allowing four goals, played a solid game. None of the goals could be directly pinned on him as the team utterly failed to execute in the second period.
- Somehow, some way, this team has to figure out a way to stop giving up goals late in games. Florida scored with 10 seconds to go in the first period and 8 seconds to go in the second. That is inexcusable and a better team in the playoffs will punish the Blue Jackets for those mental mistakes.
Columbus finishes up their two game road trip in Tampa Bay as the team takes on the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night at 7:00 PM EST in Amalie Arena.