The Columbus Blue Jackets took on last year’s Stanley Cup winners, the St. Louis Blues. The game featured a pretty good flow, though the Blues had the bulk of the offensive pressure later in the latter half.
Columbus struck first with noted goal-scorer Vladislav Gavrikov. Columbus struck 4th with noted long-range sniper Pierre-Luc Dubois. Columbus struck last, on the power play, with noted heavy-shot Zach Werenski getting the winner past Jake Allen. Here are the details:
The mood going into this game wasn’t a joyous one. The team had struggled, the players have struggled, the coaches have…done things? Positive intent is assumed. Puck drop helps one forget all of those worries. The Jackets started the game with the line of Josh Anderson – Boone Jenner – Alexandre Texier.
The 4th line got early pressure on Allen, PLD neutralized a potential 2 on 1 for the Blues, and Joonas Korpisalo was awoken with a 3 save in 30 seconds jolt. The play was quick and flowed well for the most part after this. Then Gustav Nyquist draws a…. no… darnit, Rimer. Nyquist gets called for a penalty – he covered the puck with his hand while being tripped by one Blue and dusted by another. Seemed right.
The PK was successful. Play continued.
In the 9th minute, a PLD shot rebounds off Allen and is cleared away from the front of the net by a St. Louis stick…right into the tender, caring stick of Gavrikov, who backhands his first NHL goal!
Right place, right time. pic.twitter.com/6VllXFofXn— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) November 16, 2019
Oliver BJORKSTRAND draws the first penalty for Columbus to earn a PP opportunity. It wasn’t the greatest of power plays and it is killed off.
And then….in the last minute of the 1st… MacKenzie MacEachern goes behind the net, tries a little wraparound, and slides the puck through the 5-hole. Tie game. This was on the low end of the ‘strong goal/weak goal’ spectrum.
Sonny Milano TOI – 4:40
The second period started with Korpi putting a stop to a semi-break away, BJORKSTRAND playing with speed and energy all over the place, and Werenski doing some strong work along the boards.
Then the Blues took over. From about the 5 minute mark through the 11 minute mark, St. Louis established semi-permanent residence in the Columbus offensive zone. This was mostly puck control, as the defense still prevented a heavy shot volume on Korpi. This did lead to an unfortunate sequence. Columbus finally got the puck out of the zone and tried to complete a line change. Unfortunately, Jake Allen was able to get the puck quickly and fired it to his waiting teammates at the blue line. This created a 3 on 1 with Seth Jones the only defender. A quick recovery from the Jackets coming on to the ice broke up the chance, but did lead to a Blues power play for tripping.
It was over quickly. An odd formation on the face off led to an instant 2 on 1 about 10 feet from Korpi when St. Louis won the draw. This was a Kobayashi Maru situation for Gavrikov. He tried though. 4 seconds into the power play, the Blues had the lead, 2-1.
Later in the 2nd, the Jackets got another power play, promptly gave up two shorthanded opportunities, and allowed the rest of it to be killed off. BJORKSTRAND seemed to be the only Jackets player with a pulse in any of the regulation power plays.
Korpi stops one more 2 on 1 after the puck bounces off a linesman and right on to a Blues stick and then the period ends.
Sonny Milano TOI – 8:46
Entering the third period, JLGP pointed out Cam Atkinson had yet to register a single shot attempt and that he has only scored 6 goals in his last 32 games. He tries hard, though.
The Blues started the period with immediate pressure. They aren’t buzzy like Vegas, but their pressure is somehow…stronger. Gavrikov and Sammy Blais exchanged knockdowns on the ice. Then early in the period, Emil Bemstrom did a good job to disrupt Allen with the puck. Milano recovered it on the wall and passed it back to Bemstrom who then finds PLD in front. Dubois had a defender right on him, but I don’t think he noticed. The game was tied.
Needed that one pic.twitter.com/O1Xdvs5K2j— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) November 16, 2019
The Jackets didn’t have a lot of sustained offensive pressure on Allen, but they scored both goals in similar fashion. The young guys got the puck, put together a few quick passes, crowded the goalie, and put it in the net. Most of these guys got little TOI. Players have to earn TOI and playing defense and scoring points is clearly not how one does that.
Team defense really limited St. Louis in the third. Though they physically had the puck a lot, they weren’t getting a lot of good shots on Korpi. One moment of anxiety was caused by Ryan O’Reilly lifting Korpi’s stick as he tried to clear it, but Korpi was able to get the puck to another Jackets forward.
The 22 – 18 – 52 line was the best Jacket’s line all period, but no more goals would be scored.
Sonny Milano TOI: 12:17 (Victory is assured)
Overtime has been a mixed bag for Columbus and it looked like we pulled out one of those gross off-brand fruit candies when BJORKSTRAND was whistled for a trip. The PK played a very tight formation in front of Korpi – no cross ice passes today! There were a few tense moments but ultimately the kill was successful while it lasted. Before it expired, St. Louis was called for a penalty of its own. This reduced play to the always odd 3 on 3! Not much doing there, unfortunately. So we had to settle for a power play.
Seth Jones. Zach Werenski. Alexander Wennberg. Cam Atkinson. Atkinson and Wennberg were primarily puck retrievers for Jones and Werenski who bombed away at Allen. Finally, one gets through --
Record-setting Werenski does this:
That gave the Jackets a 3-2 lead. The game ended at that point, so the Jackets win 3-2.
- Joonas Korpisalo finished with 25 saves on 27 shots for a .926 save %
- How did the Player to Watch do? Mostly invisible. Atkinson recorded his first shot attempt in the 3rd. When OT started, I joked in the Writer’s Slack that OT would make it easier for Atkinson to pull out that secondary assist. Cam ended up getting the secondary assist on the Werenski goal. 2 shots on goal. 1 hit. Very deserving of the most TOI amongst forwards. The 5v5 Goal Watch will continue.
- Sonny Milano, Riley Nash, and Emil Bemstrom received the fewest minutes. They were not on a line together. Milano and Nash got just over 12 minutes each. Bemstrom just over 11 minutes.
- However, I said the Jackets win if Milano gets over 11 minutes, so that’s a bonus! I have no lottery numbers to give you.
- Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre was pretty good in the booth. Like Jody, he’s good at the banter and bringing some humor to the role.
- Team defense has really improved of late, as have the comments on how bad Z and Jones are.
- Werenski was strong on the boards, winning several battles against the Blues’ large men.
- It’s a small sample size and it won’t matter – but this team has now played two games better without Nick Foligno
- David Savard has kepi-worthy facial hair right now.