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Game #3 Recap: Blue Jackets Find Gas Pedal, Roll Past Avalanche, 5-2

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Ignore the second period

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

After a passable season debut and a disjointed home opener to start 2018-19, the question for Tuesday night in Columbus: which version of the Blue Jackets would show up against the Colorado Avalanche? Missing a few key cogs, the CBJ delivered a strong start and a strong finish behind two Nick Foligno goals to top the previously undefeated Avalanche, 5-2.

Foligno scored two (with an assist) while Pierre-Luc Dubois, Artemi Panarin and Josh Anderson also found the back of the net. Sergei Bobrovsky showed up as his usual self, stopping 25 of 27 shots for his first win of the year. The team looked completely different than Friday’s, displaying a competent offense and the speed they’re supposed to be known for. A fun first period and a 2-0 lead evaporated in a flat second period when Columbus allowed Nathan MacKinnon to take over the game. The final frame looked much more like the first, however, with the Blue Jackets firmly in control en route to the victory.

First Period

The Blue Jackets got off to an avoidable start when everyone’s favorite bad boy Alexander Wennberg went to the box for hooking in the game’s first minute. The CBJ kept the Avs largely out of the zone, though, and Bob shut down what shots did make it through to finish off the night’s first kill.

Philipp Grubauer bailed out Colorado shortly after the penalty. Markus Nutivaara found himself stoned on a last-second right-post kick save and Ryan Murray’s follow-up shot couldn’t make it through the netminder either. Minutes later, the close calls continued with a Josh Anderson shot that beat Grubauer short side but glanced off the post.

Finally, a breakthrough. Anthony Duclair crashed behind the net and squirted the puck to Wennberg, who connected with Foligno in front. The captain’s quick release beat Grubauer to give him his first goal of the year and put the Jackets ahead 1-0 at 6:49.

Blue Jackets 1, Colorado 0, 6:49

Colorado put Columbus on the power play at 9:07 with the most egregious trip in NHL history from Sheldon Dries. Just 47 seconds later, the Avs handed the Jackets a 5-on-3 and the CBJ capitalized. The Jackets PP kept pressing, swarming the net and firing shots until the Avalanche finally broke. Dubois recovered a loose puck as Grubauer swam in his own crease and PLD stuffed the chance home, extending the home team’s lead to 2-0. Cam Atkinson and Foligno picked up assists.

Blue Jackets 2, Colorado 0, 10:32 (PP)

No score during the rest of the other 5-on-4, though. Fire everyone, sell the team.

Fortunately for Columbus, they’d head back to the power play right after Matt Calvert’s tribute video. Alexander Kerfoot high-sticked Nick Foligno as the Avs relentlessly pursued shorthanded situations heading into the second TV timeout, but nothing doing on the power play for the boys in blue.

Calvert nearly scored a goal for his old team in the closing minute of the first. Take a look at this backcheck that nearly resulted in a 3-0 lead:

Alas. Great first period overall, though—17-9 lead in shots and convincingly controlled possession and transition.

Second Period

In case you forgot, Nathan MacKinnon’s really good at hockey. The Colorado center entered the zone early in the second period, created some space in the high slot and lasered one over Bob and between Gabriel Landeskog’s legs (he said during the second intermission he meant to do it) to cut the Blue Jackets’ lead in half.

Blue Jackets 2, Avalanche 1, 3:27

Minutes later, Dubois held Landeskog as the ice continued to tilt away from the Jackets. The visitors pressured the Blue Jackets (and hit Zach Werenski in the leg with a shot), but the penalty kill held firm to keep the score 2-1.

The PK headed back on the ice at 9:12 because of a Nick Foligno slash...and gave up a goal 18 seconds later. Carl Soderberg’s shot through traffic glanced off David Savard’s knee and past Bob to even the game at 2-2. Not awesome.

Blue Jackets 2, Avalanche 2, 9:30 (PP)

The never-ending see-saw of penalties tipped the home team’s way a little less than three minutes later. The power play looked like cats in a bathtub, though, so no score there.

MacKinnon nearly scored his second goal in the period’s final minute, skating past Werenski and hitting the post. Luckily for Columbus, the puck stayed out and the period ended at 2-2. Completely different period than the first, and not in a good way.

Third Period

Boone Jenner slashed his man at 1:56 for another CBJ penalty kill and you might be worried about giving a rested top unit fresh ice, but the Jackets actually managed some chances while shorthanded and the penalty passed without incident.

The kill might’ve given Columbus some momentum, because the Jackets scored just over a minute later. Ryan Murray joined the rush and found Nutivaara all the way across the zone through about four Avs. Panarin called for the puck all alone in the high slot, took his time and picked his spot to score his second of the season. Might want to keep track of No. 9.

Blue Jackets 3, Avalanche 2, 5:14

How about another goal from Nick Foligno? That’s something the kids like, right? Anthony Duclair again did the Lord’s work behind the net by keeping the puck in the zone for Wennberg, who found Foligno in position. The Captain then let rip a beautiful snipe over the shoulder of Grubauer:

Blue Jackets 4, Avalanche 2, 11:32

With a two-goal lead and less than 10 minutes to go, it became Bob’s time to slam the door. Bob stopped shot after shot (nine altogether in the third), including several from the slot. We all know what he can do at this point in his career, and it’s good to see it again in game number three.

Cam Atkinson drew a penalty on a fantastic individual effort with 4:34 to go, poking a puck away at the CBJ blue line and forcing Landeskog to trip him as he tried to score on the other end.

They didn’t score, but it wasted two minutes. So that’s something.

Josh Anderson would put the cherry on top with two minutes to go, shooting on the empty net from the faceoff circle in the Jackets’ own zone. Second of the year for Anderson.

Blue Jackets 5, Avalanche 2, 18:00

After another late power play that resulted in no goal, that was the game. Jackets win.

Quick Thoughts

  • Jackets fans have plenty to be happy about if they ignore the second period. Foligno and Dubois get their first goals of the year, Wennberg gets two assists (and finishes +3 with Duclair) and Columbus looked like a good team again.
  • An announced crowd of 11,964 on hand for Tuesday’s game. Yikes.
  • Here’s Matt Calvert’s tribute video. Of course they singled out his punch on Rick Nash.
  • Lukas Sedlak played 6:47 and Sonny Milano didn’t crack 10 minutes of ice time at 9:23. The Jackets did have six power plays (only scoring once, please note) and were not up by three goals for all that much, but still.
  • The Nutivaara-Murray pairing keeps rolling. Murray led all skaters in ice time (25:28) and Nutivaara finished with seven shots, five (!) of those coming in the first. Scott Harrington made his season debut as well. Him and Adam Clendening were fine, mostly, in shielded action.
  • First regulation win of the season. Back at it again at Florida on Thursday at 7 p.m.