Ryan Murray made his return tonight for the Columbus Blue Jackets, his first game since Nov. 27. The team looked to snap a three-game skid and vault over the idle Hurricanes and Islanders back into a playoff spot.
The opponent to get through was the New Jersey Devils, occupying the first Wild Card with 70 points, and looking to salvage a four-game series split on the season.
Let’s get to it.
The Jackets played with a sense of urgency early and were able to get up close and personal with Devils’ netminder Keith Kinkaid.
And as a result, Columbus did not waste much time jumping on the attack offensively. At 5:19, Zach Werenski brought the puck up ice and got an initial shot in the slot off the post. Boone Jenner was there to follow up, reaching forward and knocking in the go-ahead tally for Columbus.
A nice greasy goal as they say.
Things opened up a bit after that. Columbus’ power play, 21.6% since the start of the new year, got their chance at 12:35 when Blake Coleman got called for interference. The Jackets dominated the zone time during the two minutes, but only got off one shot on net.
That would be a familiar sight the rest of the night.
As the team put up six goals against Kinkaid on Feb. 10, they were doing their best to make the goaltender uncomfortable throughout the rest of the opening period. The Jackets, who were outshot 11-8 at one point, kept New Jersey shotless over the final four-plus minutes and held the 13-11 advantage.
51.72% of shot attempts
57.14% of scoring chances
75% of high-danger attempts
We covered the red-hot Taylor Hall in the preview, and he was at it again early in the second period at 1:34.
Starting out as a self-developed, defensive-end play, Hall skated the length of the ice and fired a wrist shot past Sergei Bobrovsky for his 25th of the season.
Hall’s goal extends his points streak to 12 games, and he now has points in his last 19 games dating back to Jan. 2. Nico Hischier had the assist to extend his points streak to five.
Columbus had another opportunity on the power play, right after the Devils game-tying goal. Just like the first man-advantage, it failed to muster any shots on goal.
Similar to New Jersey towards the end of period one, the Jackets were held shotless for over seven minutes to start the period.
Things could have been even worse.
Around the 9:00 mark, a giveaway by Pierre-Luc Dubois in the Jackets’ zone set New Jersey up with a golden opportunity. Hischier intercepted the pass before Coleman unleashed a shot on an alert and ready Bobrovsky.
Though the Devils were controlling the flow of the period, Scott Harrington’s second goal of the season propelled the Jackets ahead with a slap shot that got through the Devils’ defense. Dubois and Artemi Panarin assisted on the play.
New Jersey’s push was felt all through the second period, and somehow, perhaps their best chance of the night eluded them.
Following a crowd in front of Bobrovsky’s crease, Stefan Noesen, from his knees, found a wide-open, and all alone, Sami Vatanen, who fired a shot that deflected off Bobrovsky just enough, before the puck got stuck on the back of the net.
Later, Bobrovsky was huge again on a tough individual effort by Hall.
On the receiving end of an up-ice outlet pass by John Moore, Hall found a seam, sandwiched between Werenski and Seth Jones. Somehow, Hall muscled a shot with his backhand as Bobrovsky beat him on the individual effort.
Columbus was fortunate to carry a 2-1 lead through 40 minutes, as the Devils carried the play, and outshooting the Jackets 11-2.
20% of shot attempts
16.67% of scoring chances
20% of high-danger attempts
Columbus started the third period with a full power play after Noesen caught Werenski with a high stick at the end of the second period. Once again, the attempt was futile, as they failed to register a shot.
On on the night, the man-advantage went 0-for-3 with one shot on goal. The Devils power play was 0-for-2 with two shots.
Just as Columbus was held shotless for the first seven minutes of the second period, they did not get their first third-period shot until over 12 minutes in.
The Blue Jackets have outshot nine teams in a row.— Brian Hedger (@JacketsInsider) February 19, 2018
In their past eight, they've outshot the other team by a combined 356-221, an average of 44.5 to 27.6 per game.
They've also risen to 1st in #NHL in shots/gm (34.9).
In those nine games, however, they're now 2-6-1.#CBJ
And to think the Devils were coming into the night having allowed 40-plus shots on goal each of their last two games. The Devils also went seven minutes between third-period shots.
That was just the kind of odd game it was. Plays like this one by Bobrovsky loomed largely.
And it helped lead to this.
The Jackets 3-2 win puts them back into the second Wild Card spot.
Corsi: 31, Fenwick: 23, Shots: 15, Scoring Chances: 12, High Danger Chances: 7
Corsi: 47, Fenwick: 37, Shots: 27, Scoring Chances: 26, High Danger Chances: 11
Columbus was outshot 9-4 in the third period and 31-19 overall.
The Blue Jackets take the regular-season series against New Jersey 3-1. They have won seven of their last eight, and 12 of their last 15 against the Devils. Ryan Murray played 20:17, 23 shifts. The Devils had 12 giveaways to Columbus’ three. The Jackets went 19:07 in between shots on goal, and this is the first game in the last nine in which their opponent outshot them.