The Columbus Blue Jackets returned to action after the Christmas break as they traveled to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Rangers. The Jackets, winners of four straight and with points in their last six games, looked to continue their hot streak as they faced off against a slumping Rangers group that had lost two games in a row and sported just a 2-3-4 record in the month of December.
With the Toronto Maple Leafs waiting in Columbus for Friday night’s tilt, John Tortorella opted to start Joonas Korpisalo in the net against New York. Korpisalo entered the game with a 5-2-2 record with a 3.54 GAA and an .885 SV%:
Torts was looking for his team to bounce back and play well, something he noted they got away from in the two games prior to the break:
#CBJ coach John Tortorella not pleased w his club’s play in final two games before Christmas break, despite back-to-back road wins in Philadelphia (4-3) and New Jersey (3-0). pic.twitter.com/XnSzsKjLgf— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) December 27, 2018
The Jackets would be icing a full lineup, while the Rangers were missing Jesper Fast and Kevin Shattenkirk. Could the Blue Jackets rediscover their disciplined game and get back to playing a full sixty minute, 200 foot game? Let’s find out.
The game started with the first line on the offensive, along with the pairing of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Anthony Duclair was able to generate a great opportunity on the side of the net just sixty seconds into the game, but Henrik Lundqvist was equal to it. The Rangers found their legs on the next shift that ended with a shot from Mats Zuccarello after Nick Foligno slipped, but Korpisalo made the save. After both teams settled in, Pierre-Luc Dubois found Cam Atkinson alone in the slot between the circles and Atkinson rang his shot off the post. At the other end of the ice, the Rangers top line forced some defensive zone play from the Jackets but Korpisalo did not face a shot on net. Both teams started quickly, but made it to the first television timeout without surrendering a goal. Alex Wennberg forced a solid glove save from Lundqvist at the teams went to the timeout.
The Jackets were very clearly the team on the front foot through the opening ten minutes of the game, maintaining most of the zone time and were rewarded finally after a turnover caused chaos for the Rangers. Kevin Hayes turned the puck over to Atkinson who missed wide, but Boone Jenner recovered the puck and found Oliver Bjorkstrand, who buried the puck for the opening goal.
Columbus goal (1-0): Bjorkstrand from Jenner and Atkinson, 9:17
The goal was Bjorkstrand’s fifth of the season and second in as many games. After the goal, both teams settled down and exchanged neutral zone play with no shots on net until a two on one for the Rangers following an Artemi Panarin turnover led to Jimmy Vesey burying it behind Korpisalo.
New York goal (1-1): Vesey from Hayes and Namestnikov, 13:59
Kevin Hayes extended his point streak to eight games with the assist. After the Rangers goal, David Savard took the puck in his own zone before skating into the Rangers zone and fired a shot that beat Lundqvist, hit the post, and went into the net.
Columbus goal (2-1): Savard from Bjorkstrand and Harrington, 16:08
It was David Savard’s first goal in 28 games. After the Jackets’ go ahead goal, Korpisalo was able to cover a Rangers rush up the ice. Both teams had chances to end the period, but it ended with the score 2-1. The Jackets led on the shot counter 6-5.
The Jackets started the second much as they did the first - on the front foot, with Anthony Duclair getting a good chance. A Scott Harrington hit on Pavel Buchnevich resulted in the first penalty of the night, a boarding minor at 1:38 for Harrington. It took just seconds for the Rangers to equalize for the second time as Chris Kreider deflected a shot in front of the net past Korpisalo.
New York goal (2-2): Kreider from Zuccarello and Hayes, 1:45
The Jackets looked to respond quickly with several solid chances, but Lundqvist was equal to all of them. After a scramble in the neutral zone, Korpisalo was equal to a Jordan Staal effort. Cam Atkinson lost an edge on the forecheck and took out the Rangers’ goal as well as Lundqvist, bit no penalty was called as it was a failure of equipment - Cam got new blades in his skates on the bench and neither player was the worse for wear.
A scramble in front of the Blue Jackets net saw Korpisalo, Werenski, and others laying in the paint with the Rangers looking to capitalize, but Korpisalo was able to cover and keep the score knotted at two.
The Rangers had taken control of the game, taking the lead in momentum as well as on the shot counter for the first time as the teams approached the halfway mark of the game. Pierre-Luc Dubois had a solid chance on a feed from Markus Nutivaara, but he hit his shot off the heel of his stick and missed the net. Wennberg saw a shot (his second of the night!) deflected wide by Hayes.
As the teams crossed the halfway mark, Mika Zibanejad saw a shot deflected over the top of the net as Seth Jones made the defensive play. A long, extended shift in the Rangers zone for the Jackets saw no shots, though the Jackets eventually forced an icing.
Late in the period, the teams got into end to end action with neither team generating a true scoring chance for several minutes. Brady Skjei made several solid defensive plays without a stick to keep the Jackets from generating a solid chance. With 2:38 to go, Lundqvist was able to glove a great chance from Boone Jenner.
The Jackets saw the puck go in the net with 1:39 to go, but as Werenski crashed the net, he attempted to glove it and it went in the net - waved off immediately as Zach could do nothing but shake his head. An unfortunate bounce for a guy who needed a good bounce for his confidence.
As the period came to a close, neither team scored. Kreider’s power play goal sent the game to the third period tied at two, with the teams tied on the shot counter at 17.
The third period saw a flurry of activity in the Rangers zone, but no shots on net to show for it for the Jackets. Anderson looked short side 90 seconds into the period and forced a squeezed arm save from Lundqvist. Markus Hannikainen had a good chance on a wrap-around but was unable to finish the chance. The Jackets started quickly again in this period but were not rewarded throug h the first period as a shot hit the crossbar.
Brendan Smith went off for hooking Josh Anderson in front of the net at the 4:32 mark. Torts sent out the first line and J-Z to start the man advantage. The Jackets had several chances in the first minute of the power play but Lundqvist was able to keep the score knotted at two. For the second unit, the team sent out Ryan Murray, Alex Wennberg, Boone Jenner, Nick Foligno, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Seth Jones. The second unit was awful with advantage, gifting the Rangers the majority of offensive zone time, and the Rangers managed to kill the penalty. The second unit was hemmed into the defensive zone for the entirety of their shift.
End to end action throu the middle part of the period saw the Rangers with extended zone time fail to get a true scoring chance thanks to shot blocking and defensive work by Jones and Werenski. New York took control of the game in the middle part, dominating zone time and chances. After a poke check saw Chris Kreider find a loose puck, the Rangers were rewarded for dominating play as Kreider buried it to give the Rangers their first lead of the night.
Rangers goal (2-3): Kreider from Skjei and Lundqvist, 12:06
Kreider potted his second of the night as Columbus sagged off and played passively in the neutral zone. The Rangers led, and deservedly so. Columbus spent much of the third scrambling in their own zone in the third period while failing to clear the defensive zone and they were made to pay for it, an issue the team MUST correct going forward.
After a rush through the neutral zone, Ryan Strome buried a puck behind Korpisalo on a feed from Buchnevich with 4:36 to go. Columbus challenged the goal for offside, and the goal was overturned. Columbus still had a chance, down one with 4:40 to go.
Zach Werenski and Artemi Panarin had chances with four minutes to go, but neither could score (it was also Panarin’s first shot of the night). With minutes to go, the Zach Werenski slapper we missed last season with his shoulder injury struck and tied the game up as, off the face-off, a seeing-eye puck beat Henrik Lundqvist.
Columbus goal (3-3): Werenski from Jenner, 17:40
After end to end action to end the period, the teams went to overtime.
Pierre-Luc Dubois’ first goal in 11 games won it in overtime as he rushed up the ice and powered it past Lundqvist.
Columbus Blue Jackets 4 New York Rangers 3 (OT)
- Pierre-Luc Dubois
- Chris Kreider
- Zach Werenski
- The ice was terrible Thursday night - Madison Square Garden hosted a Globetrotters game at noon on the same day, and players slipped while pucks rolled off sticks all night. Credit to the arena staff for getting the ice to a playable condition, but it was very clearly not an optimal situation with just five hours of turnaround time before the opening face-off.
- Joonas Korpisalo knew he was going to play in the game before the break, and his preparation showed. Korpisalo was calm and collected even under pressure.
- Scott Harrington hit ten assists for this season. Congratulations to the often-overlooked sixth defenseman, who has been given grief by many. He has played well this month for the team and deserves the 6D spot on the roster right now.
- The Rangers’ first power play goal was a clinic in how the Jackets should be running theirs, with guys moving around and the puck moving quickly with deflections in front of the net. Maybe the Blue Jackets could watch some tape on that and take notes for their own league-worst-in-December power(less) play.
- Our power play remains abysmal. Water, wet.
- Good work from the Blue Jackets to show resolve late in the third when they could have packed it in ahead of the Toronto game tomorrow night. Instead, they found a way to get it to overtime and won it to go 4-0-0 in the four game division stretch.
Up next is the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow night at Nationwide Arena. Face-off is at 7:00 EST.