Monday night featured a close-fought game between two good teams where some late bounces went Toronto’s way for a 4-2 victory. Tonight was a close-fought game between two good teams where some late bounces went Columbus’ way for a 4-2 victory.
First Period: Anderson Attacks
Just like on Monday, the Blue Jackets jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. The first game less than four minutes in as Nick Foligno intercepted an outlet pass at the blue line. He tapped it to Boone Jenner, who worked the puck down the slot. Jenner fired on net and Josh Anderson was there to tip in the rebound.
Toronto had controlled play to that point, and Anderson’s goal was the first shot of the game for Columbus.
Six minutes later, Andy would strike again with a goal that would make Jose Ramirez jealous. It started with a clearing pass by Nick Foligno. It would have been icing if not for the great speed of Anderson. He beat Ron Hainsey to the puck and flipped it back to a trailing Jenner. Jenner crossed it to Scott Harrington, who couldn’t corral the puck for a shot. He was able to pass the puck again, this time backwards to Lukas Sedlak, who shot. Like on the first goal, Anderson was in the right spot to hammer home the rebound. This time the puck was in the air and his swinging stick got a piece of it.
My favorite part about both of these goals was that they came from playing downhill. The team crashed the net, peppered the goal, and got in position for rebounds. I want to see every line scoring that way, but especially this heavy 71/38/77 line.
Late in the period, Toronto cut the lead in half thanks to a long range goal from Methuselah himself, former Blue Jacket Hainsey.
Second Period: Shorties scorin’ Shorties
The Leaves tied it up at the 2:58 mark of the second period off the stick of Kasperi Kapanen. His shot was directly at Bob and somehow found its way between his torso and arm. Very soft goal. Normally I would rip Bob for it, but he was otherwise very, very good tonight. He’s been peak Bob all month so I’ll forgive him for one bad goal.
Midway through the period, Torts huddled with the team during a TV timeout and it seemed to refocus the group after blowing yet another two goal lead. This paid benefits later in the period.
While on an ineffective power play, Artemi Panarin committed a tripping penalty to prevent a breakaway chance. On the ensuing kill, Alexander Wennberg made a nice play to strip the puck, and put the pass on the tape of a streaking Cam Atkinson. he toe-dragged to undress the $11 million man John Tavares and score a shorthanded goal to take the lead.
Are we impressed? Yes.— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) November 24, 2018
Surprised? Not so much. pic.twitter.com/Be2sNuKnUS
I take all credit for this by picking Cam as the “player to watch” in my preview. That’s a SIX game goal-scoring streak for the diminutive winger.
Third Period: The Yeast We Can Do
Toronto did not go gentle into that good night, as they kept the offensive pressure up all night. That 3-2 Columbus lead was not feeling safe. Early in the third, the Jackets got their insurance goal. While the forwards started a line change, Ryan Murray unleashed another perfect outlet pass to Panarin. Panarin fought his way through traffic to drive the puck to the net. His first attempt was stopped, and then he took a second swing at the same time as Markus Hannikainen, who had just arrived on the ice. It wasn’t initially clear whose stick knocked the puck in, so both players celebrated as though they had scored. Replay confirmed Beer Man as the scorer rather than Bread Man. WHICHEVER YEAST-BASED FOOD NICKNAME, LANA.
You can see how frustrated Panarin is by his current scoring slump. He has now gone 11 games without a goal, though at least he does have 8 assists in that span. In the final minutes of the game, as Toronto pulled the goalie, Panarin had multiple attempts at the empty net that all went wide. Hopefully his next goal comes soon. I predict that once it does, it will start a flood of goals. That’s just the way it goes for goal scorers; you always expect some streakiness (like Cam is having now, in a positive way).
That’s a statement win for Columbus. They stay in first, they get revenge for an earlier loss, and they record a win against one of the favorites to win the Cup. But they don’t have time to savor the win as they travel to Pittsburgh tomorrow to face the Penguins. The Pens are in last place in the Metro and lost Friday night in overtime to Boston. But it’s still the Pens and it still means a lot to beat them.