The Jackets are adhering to one word right now: Urgency.
Did they display that tonight? In short bursts, yes. But that ended up not being good enough against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The urgency was somewhat evident; the game was fast-paced — there were some serious lapses in our defense, but starting goalie Elvis Merzlikens was able to clean up the worst of it. Jackets were at nine shots to the Blues’ seven when Robert Thomas put away the first goal for St. Louis, assisted by Tyler Bozak.
Fortunately, Pierre-Luc Dubois was able to quickly answer, tying things up 1-1 before heading into the second — literally leaving no extra time, as he scored with 4.7 seconds remaining in the period.
The Jackets were able to carry PLD’s momentum into the second period, which was fun to watch — the next two goals for the Jackets were well-constructed and well-deserved.
Sonny Milano had the second goal of the game, a back-end goal that was the third of his season.
Oliver Bjorkstrand followed him up with the third goal of the game and his 100th point of his career, bursting the top off of Jordan Binnington’s water bottle for good measure.
Finally, Oliver Bjorkstrand has his 100th career point, and they aren't taking that one away. #CBJ— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) November 2, 2019
Of course, the Blues needed to keep it interesting: they quickly countered with two goals, one on a power play and the other shortly after, on a series of rebounds off the CBJ defense. The second period ended 3-3.
It was tense, even though the score didn’t change. The Jackets started off with a solid penalty kill, and Merzlikens was impressive throughout the game and looked comfortable in the net, which was encouraging. He was making a lot of solid saves, but then the defensive line would collect the puck and immediately lose it, which allowed the Blues to start an offensive attack all over again.
I’m feeling bad for both Joonas Korpisalo and Merzlikens, because I don’t feel like their end-of-game stats are necessarily reflective of how well they play in a game. Their teammates in front of them don’t always make their jobs easier.
Hello overtime, our old friend. Why does this keep happening to us? Torts said in his post-game chat that he felt the Jackets were back on their heels during the third, and I tend to agree — they were certainly appearing more reactive than proactive, and allowed the Blues to control the offensive energy. However, the Jackets are 3-2 this season on overtime games and the Blues are only 1-3, so I made the silly mistake of getting my hopes up.
The Blues scored right away. Like, right away. Immediately. Wennberg, Werenski and Jones were out on the ice — Z tried to block David Perron’s shot, but was unsuccessful. Another disappointing ending in a game that was really looking like it could go either way, right up to the final seconds. A recurring theme/nightmare in their play lately.
Post-game, Merzlikens said that the Blues “play really complicated — well, complicated for me.” Elvis is one of my favorite players to hear speak off-ice. He feels really candid — he doesn’t provide boring, canned answers and he doesn’t let the fact that English is his second language hold him back from describing how he feels.
Well, onto Calgary tomorrow. I’m looking forward to this one, if only for the Milano-Tkachuk match-up — Milano is hot on offense right now, and Matthew Tkachuk just scored a really impressive (and very similar) between-the-legs “last resort” shot against the Predators last night to win that game in overtime. Milano had some dumb penalties tonight; when asked about it, Torts said he hopes that Milano can find his way “out of that world.”
I don’t know. Walking away from St. Louis with one point is better than their result in Philadelphia the other night, the game of whose details we shan’t speak of henceforth. Torts called their performance “a step in the right direction.” Whether or not they’ve really recovered from their losing streak, we’ll have to see tomorrow night versus Calgary.