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Merzlikins stands tall, but Hawks prevail in OT

Columbus went on the road into a hostile Chicago environment and came away with one huge point in overtime loss to Blackhawks.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Elvis Merzlikins — 30 stops in the game — made his second NHL start Friday night as the Columbus Blue Jackets took on the Chicago Blackhawks from the Madhouse on Madison in Chicago.

After a tough first start to his NHL career nearly two weeks ago, he was much better on this night, making key stops to allow the Jackets to earn a point and a chance at two, but the Blackhawks squeaked this one out in overtime, 3-2.

Robin Lehner made his second start of the season for the Blackhawks, stopping 37 shots.

As this one got going, Columbus dictated the first period play early as the Blackhawks were limited to only one shot on goal nearly eight minutes in.

A scoreless stalemate through the latter stages of the first period, Drake Caggiula ended that, his goal beating the glove side of Merzlikins. The play originated in a fast break variety at the Blackhawks’ own end, with Alex DeBrincat tossing the puck up along the boards to Caggiula. Calvin de Haan also grabbed an assist.

(That Elvis reaction.)

Columbus was tasked with killing part of a 5-on-3 over the final minute of the first period after Alexander Wennberg took a slashing penalty. Boone Jenner had an instrumental final minute getting his stick on the puck to change the possession and tilt the ice the other way, as the Jackets killed off the initial of the 5-on-3 penalty, beginning the second period still short-handed.

Robbing Patrick Kane was Elvis in the building early on into the second period.

The young goaltender’s sharpness helped to create some offense as well. A nice quick stop allowed Columbus to regroup and break back out through the neutral zone, as Pierre-Luc Dubois scored his team-leading third goal of the campaign. The goal was assisted by Gustav Nyquist and Cam Atkinson.

Here’s the beginning sequence where Merzlikins’ nice stop on one end helped to spark offense on the other.

The Blue Jackets took the lead for the first time at 2:55 of the third period when Markus Nutivaara followed up on his initial shot and rebound to record his second goal of the year. Oliver Bjorkstrand assisted on the play.

Following a Seth Jones tripping penalty midway through the third period, Nick Foligno found himself on a self-made breakaway, as he swept the puck out of the defensive end. Following the initial save by Lehner on Foligno, the puck ended up inching through the goaltender, but not before the play was blown dead, and the no goal call was upheld through a brief review.

On that same power play opportunity for the Blackhawks, DeBrincat deposited his second goal of the year, second point of the game, to tie the game at two. Kane had the primary assist on the pass from the left face-off circle of Merzlikins to DeBrincat in the opposite circle. Erik Gustafsson also picked up an assist.

This game was all squared away at two goals apiece through the first 60 minutes and the Blue Jackets went to their second overtime game of the season. It was also Chicago’s second. Getting that road point is always huge and the Jackets wanted to get more.

However, less than a minute into the extra period, Chicago ended it with a goal by the captain, Jonathan Toews, as he was the happy recipient of a Kane rebound, and no. 88 got his second assist.

The mini win streak is over but not the point streak as Columbus returns home to Nationwide Arena tomorrow at 7:00 pm to face the New York Islanders with five points over the last three games. The Islanders won their last game on Thursday, 3-1, over the Winnipeg Jets.

Additional Notes

Alexander Wennberg was down for a few seconds following a blocked shot in the beginning stages of the second period but stayed in the game. Ryan Murray missed all but one shift in the third period. Columbus was 0-for-4 on the power play. Chicago was 1-for-4. Gustav Nyquist has a three game point-streak, (0-3-3). Oliver Bjorkstrand earned his 100th career point. Zach Werenski led the Blue Jackets in ice-time (24:04). Duncan Keith led the game (24:40). Emil Bemstrom led the Jackets with six shots. Patrick Kane led the game with nine shots. Pierre-Luc Dubois has three goals in his last four games, and with his second period goal he made a little franchise history.