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Game #4 Recap: Ducks edge Blue Jackets with two goals in two minutes, 2-1

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A bad bounce here, a mistake there

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks, fresh off a win the previous night, scored two goals in just under two minutes to squeeze past the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday at Nationwide Arena, 2-1.

All three of the game’s goals came in the second period. Jakob Silfverberg and Cam Fowler scored 1:57 apart to cap off odd-man rushes before Pierre-Luc Dubois scored Columbus’s only goal with a “throw it on net and see what happens” play with 3:44 left in the period.

Neither team cracked 30 shots. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 21 of Anaheim’s 23, while Ryan Miller made 26 saves on 27 shots.

Final Thoughts

  • Columbus is 1-3 and Anaheim is 4-1. The Ducks, against conventional wisdom, may be good. The Blue Jackets may not be great, but are almost certainly better than 1-3. Bjorkstrand hits the crossbar in the first, Gustav Nyquist has a wraparound stopped just shy of a goal, a puck deflects to Rickard Rakell for a 2-on-1 and eventual goal...hockey’s a weird sport. It’s game four out of 82, and I should probably calm down.
  • But yuck. We knew finishing would be an issue, but there’s not much room for error. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Blue Jackets had the edge in expected goals, 1.74 to 1.06. Nearly every advanced stat metric went the CBJ’s way (and healthily, too), but the only goal was an absolute softie. It happens. But it’s not fun to watch. The odd-man rushes cost them.
  • Oliver Bjorkstrand looked strong early. Gustav Nyqvist continues to be a good addition. Seth Jones is still Seth Jones.
  • John Tortorella told reporters on Thursday that the Blue Jackets have to be patient and not over-extend themselves on offense. Those words echoed as Anaheim’s second goal went on the board.
  • No shots for Nick Foligno? Not great.
  • Can you imagine what the lines will look like if they post a stinker in Carolina on Saturday? Just let the dogs pick ‘em.
  • Three goals, four penalties, minimal stoppages, a huge chunk of time elapsed without a break in the first. That may have been the fastest NHL game I’ve ever seen? People got places to be on Friday night, I guess.

First Period

A lightning-fast first period passed with no goals and not many more whistles. The most notable development from the period was seven minutes and 37 seconds without a stoppage, chewing up almost a third of the frame as the two sides felt each other out.

The Blue Jackets dutifully set up their forecheck early. The top line looked strong in the first five minutes, hemming the Ducks in their zone and forcing Ryan Miller to punch away a dangerous wobbler.

Joonas Korpisalo turned aside all all eight Anaheim shots, but had trouble settling and handling the puck. A beautiful kick save late on Ondrej Kase rendered those concerns moot, however—just don’t let ‘em score, and that’s all that matters.

Gustav Nyqvist found a juicy chance with an unsuccessful wraparound, one of Columbus’s better chances of the period.

Anaheim’s Nick Ritchie committed the game’s first penalty when he held Alexander Wennberg at 18:51. The Blue Jackets failed to register a shot on the 1:09 of advantage they had before the break, heading into intermission tied at zero.

Second Period

The second period opened up for both sides. Columbus failed to convert on the rest of their power play to start the second, but Oliver Bjorkstrand missed by a few inches with a shot that caromed off the crossbar.

The Blue Jackets kept coming but could not score. A few minutes later, a Sonny Milano wrister sailed just over the corner on Miller’s glove side. Bjorkstrand’s hustle behind the net drew a tripping call on Michael Del Zotto for the second Columbus power play at 4:25.

You can probably guess that the power play didn’t end with a goal for Columbus. Cam Atkinson did throw a quality wrister on goal. It just didn’t go in.

While Columbus created (but didn’t finish) chances, Anaheim struggled on offense. The Ducks tallied just one shot in the first 10 minutes of the period and went back on the penalty kill at 12:20 with a Ryan Getzlaf delay of game call.

That CBJ power play? It resulted in a goal...but not for the good guys. Columbus caught a tough break when the puck, originally headed to a waiting Zach Werenski in the neutral zone, bounced off the linesman’s skate between the benches right to Rickard Rakell. Rakell took off into the Columbus end on a 2-on-1, and his shot rebounded to Jakob Silfverberg for a shorthanded score.

1-0 Ducks, Jakob Silfverberg, shorthanded, 12:59 of the second period

What’s the message after that? “An unfortunate bounce, you’re still on the power play, head up,” right? Something in that vein? Wherever the Blue Jackets’ heads were, the Ducks converted a 3-on-2 less than two minutes later. Ondrej Kase sped into Columbus territory and dropped the puck to Cam Fowler, who beat Korpisalo cleanly to make it 2-0.

2-0 Ducks, Cam Fowler, 14:56 of the second period

Columbus had failed to finish and Anaheim made them pay. The Blue Jackets would cut the lead in half, however, with 3:44 left in the frame. Pierre-Luc Dubois skated wide on a standard zone entry and broke to Miller’s right. Miller, expecting a pass from almost the goal line, shifted slightly to his left to expose some room on his short side. PLD pounced, throwing the puck on net and off of Miller for his first goal of the season. Seth Jones picked up his second assist on the play.

2-1 Ducks, Pierre-Luc Dubois, 16:16 of the second period

Korpisalo made a slick glove save from a spot of trouble to keep the deficit at one shortly before the end of the period.

Third Period

End-to-end action for most of the first half finally broke against the Blue Jackets. Cam Atkinson tripped Josh Manson behind the Anaheim net to give the Ducks their first power play of the game at 8:24.

Fittingly for the night, the shorthanded Columbus team created one of its best chances while a man down. A 4-on-1 (!) brought the crowd to its feet as Seth Jones skated in on Ryan Miller, went to his backhand...and fell victim to a beautiful poke check from Miller. The veteran netminder moved to his left but kept his stick down and to the right, poking a golden chance away and keeping Anaheim ahead. Columbus killed the rest of the penalty without incident (or Anaheim shots).

Also fittingly for the night, Seth Jones hit the post off a faceoff coming back from the game’s final media timeout. A game of inches. The Blue Jackets slammed on the gas pedal late—including Zach Werenski almost finding Cam Atkinson catching the Ducks on a change—but a flurry as the game wound down wasn’t enough. Blue Jackets lose.