Spoiler: what happened was another hard-fought loss.
While the Jackets won the first few shifts, it was the Capitals who drew first blood on their first shot of the game. Evgeny Kuznetsov skated the puck up and down the right side, maintaining possession until he found a weakness in the Columbus defense. David Savard was caught out of position clearing the front of the net, and Josh Anderson was stuck watching Lars Eller at the top of the zone. John Carlson snuck in undetected and scored off Kuznetsov’s cross-ice pass.
Later in the first, Tom Wilson - one of my most hated players in the game right now - tried to pass from behind his goal. The puck took a weird bounce off the boards and Pierre-Luc Dubois was there to capitalize (no pun intended) with a tying goal.
Tom Wilson's clear attempt caroms off the boards right to PLD, and in hockey this goal counts just the same as a top-shelf snipe from the dot pic.twitter.com/lwqKTKYk6u— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) February 10, 2018
Nick Foligno took a dumb hooking penalty, but - and you won’t believe this - THE JACKETS KILLED A PENALTY! I know, crazy, right?
Near the end of the period, Kuznetsov went off for interference but the Jackets could not score on the power play. Even worse: the puck was in the defensive zone as the penalty expired. Oliver BJORKSTRAND passed from behind the net to Markus Nutivaara, who swept the puck up the board. Unfortunately, no Jacket was there to retrieve it but Matt Niskanen was. He skated deep in the zone and fired a shot (pass?) down the goal line. Eller was in front of the goal to tip it towards Kuznetsov on the other side, who just finished for the goal with 1.4 seconds remaining in the period. Lazy effort by the Blue Jackets to not play all the way to the horn at the end of the period.
The Jackets led shots 9-6 and had a 18-16 lead in 5v5 CF.
The second started on a bright note, as the Jackets tied it up after 27 seconds. Seth Jones intercepted a Tom Wilson clearing pass and fired from the blue line. Artemi Panarin was in position to deflect the shot past Braden Holtby.
Artemi Panarin tips Seth Jones's one-timer and hockey is beautiful: pic.twitter.com/dzQjsmc0t0— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) February 10, 2018
Shortly thereafter, Dean Kukan was called for tripping, and AGAIN the Jackets killed a penalty. Progress!
At the 15:22 mark, the Caps took the lead again. This time it was their fourth line working their way towards a goal. Devante Smith-Pelly fired a booming shot that Jay Beagle finished.
On the ensuing faceoff, Lukas Sedlak got immediately called for high sticking. Alas, the perfect penalty kill could not hold. The Blue Jackets had a great short handed opportunity - with numbers! - but Seth Jones chose to pass to Matt Calvert rather than shoot himself. Calvert couldn’t get to the pass and the Caps got an odd man rush the other way. Jack Johnson did what he could against a 3 man rush but couldn’t stop Eller from beating Sergei Bobrovsky.
“Safe is Death” dictates not taking chances with a shorthanded attempt, but in this case not playing it safe was also death.
Late in the period, injury was added to insult, as Big Zach took a skate blade to his Werenskis. He was helped off the ice and went back to the training room.
Fortunately he returned for the third period. I was worried that T.J. Oshie had become a mohel.
Columbus dominated the shot chart despite getting outscored 2-1. 20-11 5v5 CF and 12-5 in all situation shots.
Another strong period, but still unable to get the puck into the net. I want to keep being hopeful about the shot creation, but after the last week I’m sick of talking about games where the Jackets shoot a ton but can’t score.
Per Corsica.Hockey, the Blue Jackets won xGF 3.33-2.61. They won the Corsi battle 56-41. They shot from all over but not as heavy in the crease as on Tuesday:
The Red Wings blew a 5-2 lead to lose 7-6 in overtime to the Islanders. The Hurricanes beat the Canucks 4-1. With those results, the Islanders jump into the second wild card spot with 60 points to the Jackets’ 58. Carolina’s win leaps them ahead of Columbus as well.
The third place Devils come to Columbus on Saturday night in what is clearly a must-win game for the home team.