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Game #59 Recap: Canadiens Hold Blue Jackets at Bay, 3-2

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Two fights, two goals, no points

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets, down a sick Artemi Panarin and coming off a cratering at the hands of Tampa Bay the previous night, dropped a chippy Eastern Conference battle at Montreal on Tuesday evening, 3-2.

Josh Anderson and Nick Folingo each scored to erase a 2-0 Canadiens lead, but a Tomas Tatar goal with under seven minutes to play sealed the win for the Habs. Boone Jenner also picked up a pair of assists for the CBJ. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 29 of 32 shots while Carey Price made 31 saves on 33 shots. Max Domi and Paul Byron each picked up a goal for Montreal in the first period.

Artemi Panarin missed the game with an illness (“he s— his pants,” John Tortorella famously said pre-game), allowing Anthony Duclair to draw in.

Strong first and third periods from Montreal helped carry the home team. The Habs controlled the flow overall against a tired Blue Jackets squad with a 59.55 CF%, 54.55 FF% and a 9-5 edge in high-danger scoring chances, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.

First Period

The Habs raced to a fast start, scoring just 81 seconds into the game. Columbus created a couple of juicy chances early on, but Carey Price stood tall and kicked out a David Savard shot from in close. The puck bounced to Max Domi, who raced into the CBJ end on an odd-man rush. His cross-crease pass richoted back to Domi off the kneeling body of Eric Robinson and Domi didn’t miss from there, giving the home side a 1-0 lead.

Canadiens 1, Blue Jackets 0, 18:39 left in the first period

A little later, Andrew Shaw got in a jousting match with Scott Harrington in front of Bob and eventually cross-checked the CBJ defenseman. Harrington took exception to the play and fought Shaw, sending both to the box for fighting but keeping the Shaw minor penalty for the game’s first power play.

That marked Scott Harrington’s first-ever regular season NHL fight. His only other NHL fight came in the 2016 preseason against Pittsburgh.

Montreal made it 2-0 with 2:48 left in the period. The Habs recovered a poor CBJ clearing attempt in the neutral zone and skated into CBJ territory. Jesperi Kotkaniemi shot wide that bounced off the end boards to Paul Byron, who buried it to extend the lead. The game marked Byron’s first game back since suffering a forearm injury against Edmonton on February 3.

Canadiens 2, Blue Jackets 0, 2:48 left in the first period

The period mercifully ended soon after with the Canadiens ahead in shots, 12-9. Though the shots were close and it never felt like Montreal dominated, the Canadiens did hold a sizable edge in CF% (69.57) and FF% (60.61) with seven high-danger scoring chances in the first.

Second Period

Josh Anderson didn’t wait long to cut the Habs’ lead in half, scoring 1:05 into the frame. Anderson blocked a shot and took off up the ice as the puck bounced to Boone Jenner. Jenner found Anderson shortly before the red line and No. 77 kept the puck before letting loose a laser that beat Price glove side.

Canadiens 2, Blue Jackets 1, 18:55 left in the second period

From there, the period meandered on as Columbus chipped away at Montreal’s flow.

One thing to note from this period: Anthony Duclair saw time on the top line. From the doghouse to the penthouse in a matter of hours for the hometown kid.

With a little less than five minutes left in the second, Nick Foligno pushed Mike Reilly into the boards with the tip of his stick and drew a boarding minor. As Price headed off for the delayed penalty, Foligno obliged Domi with a fight and proceeded to beat the absolute crap out of him:

Two fights in one game? This is some old-time, Toe Blake, Eddie Shore hockey!

Anderson nearly scored shorthanded on the ensuing Habs PP, only to see his breakaway shot stop in the crease with no fellow Blue Jacket available to tap it home.

Montreal went back to the box shortly after the fruitless power play thanks to a too many men on the ice penalty (their 10th bench minor of the year!). The CBJ didn’t generate much offense-wise, but they did commit a penalty of their own that allowed Montreal to kill nearly half the power play during the delayed penalty. Off Josh Anderson went for hooking with 29 seconds left on the clock.

The TSN crew called the second a “sleepy period.” An apt description overall, though the Jackets posted 12 shots to Montreal’s seven and cut the lead in half to set up a deciding third. The Blue Jackets also controlled possession and tallied the period’s only high danger scoring chance.

Third Period

Montreal began the period with 1:31 left on the Anderson penalty. Columbus kept the Habs from doing too much offensively by forcing two turnovers from Max Domi on the same shift. Bobrovsky stoned Tomas Tatar and Brandon Gallagher on a magnificent Tatar coast-to-coast rush as the penalty expired to keep the game at 2-1.

The teams pushed against each other for the next 10 minutes...until the Blue Jackets broke through. Halfway through the period, Montreal’s forwards got caught deep in the CBJ end and the Blue Jackets were off to the races. Faced with another 2-on-1 similar to his earlier goal, Anderson took a shot and the rebound stopped for Foligno to cash in.

Blue Jackets 2, Canadiens 2, 10:53 left in the third period

Columbus was forced to survive its third penalty shortly after the goal when David Savard tripped Gallagher, though the solid CBJ PK were able to kill the violation without incident.

The Blue Jackets’ lead proved unfortunately short-lived. Montreal set up shop and spread the visitors around as the puck worked its way through the zone. Eventually, Jordie Benn found Tomas Tatar waiting backdoor behind Seth Jones and connected for a tap-in and a 3-2 Canadiens lead.

Canadiens 3, Blue Jackets 2, 6:52 left in the third period

What did it look like for the rest of the game?

The Blue Jackets penned in the Habs for a long chunk of time late to get Bob off the ice, only to see Price keep the puck out on several chances. Montreal missed two open nets but Columbus was unable to capitalize in the final minute to fall, 3-2.

Quick Thoughts

  • Hard, gritty, chippy effort from the Blue Jackets. Montreal hadn’t played since Sunday and they had home-ice advantage, so you knew it’d be tough.
  • Is this what life looks like without Artemi Panarin? Cam Atkinson and Pierre-Luc Dubois each tallied only one shot. Dubois didn’t crack 14 minutes. Duclair, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Anthony Duclair didn’t see the ice for the final 12 minutes or so. The creativity and spark that has characterized the top line was conspicuously absent, though Shea Weber may have had something to do with that. Here’s hoping Bread’s gutty works heal up quickly.
  • Josh Anderson was your player to watch in our preview and he lived up to the billing. What a year he’s had, scoring his 21st of the season on Tuesday.
  • Rough-looking 5v5 heatmap from NaturalStatTrick.com:
Columbus at Montreal heat map NaturalStatTrick.com
  • Columbus killed all three of Montreal’s penalties. That’s not nothing.
  • Back it at on Thursday in Ottawa following a train ride to the nation’s capital. Maybe Matt Duchene will get a look at his future teammates from the press box as it was announced he won’t be playing against the Blue Jackets.