Tonight’s match-up was a critical one for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Their opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes, is one of the teams they’re battling for playoff positioning. A win for either team - especially a regulation one - would have a major impact on the final standings.
Not only were the Jackets trying to keep pace, they were trying to build some momentum from a high scoring win over Boston. They had not won consecutive games since the first two games after acquiring Matt Duchene.
The Jackets got the all-important first goal from an unlikely source: Adam McQuaid.
Wait, THAT Adam McQuaid? Really? Wow.
The play started with a dump and chase, and proved that it’s a perfectly acceptable strategy if you have talented players performing it. In this case it was Pierre-Luc Dubois and Artemi Panarin pursuing and battling for the puck behind the net. A shot was blocked by Petr Mrazek and the rebound went back to the Jackets and passed around to Adam McQuaid, who unleashed a long range bomb. Pierre-Luc Dubois shielded the goalie and in my opinion got a bit of his stick on the puck. Either way, 1-0 good guys.
A few minutes later, the Columbus blue line struck again. Boone Jenner won an offensive zone faceoff, with the puck going directly to David Savard back by the wall. He skated in towards the dot, waited a beat, faked a pass to the middle, then let loose a bomb of his own.
If you thought this was going to be a rout, well...
For this period alone, at 5v5 (there were no penalties), these were the stats for Columbus:
Shot attempts: 5 for, 33 against
Unblocked shot attempts: 4 for, 26 against
Shots on goal: 2 for, 22 against
Scoring chances: 2 for, 20 against
High danger shot attempts: 0 for 12 against
Remarkably, the score after 40 remained 2-0. Bob was Bob:
More of the same. At 5v5:
Shot attempts: 4 for, 21 against
Unblocked shot attempts: 3 for, 18 against
Shots on goal: 3 for, 8 against
Scoring chances: 3 for, 7 against
High danger shot attempts: 1 for, 6 against
One thing I’ll give the Jackets credit for here is that in the final frame the defense was better at preventing rebounds and other second chance opportunities. They just couldn’t create sustained offensive pressure, and couldn’t stop Carolina from shooting.
Poor Carolina. This felt like games Columbus has had, where they dominate possession but can’t buy a goal.
The Canes pulled Mrazek with 3:14 left in the game, and shortly thereafter Savard took a tripping penalty. The ensuing penalty kill was a blessing in disguise for Columbus as it allowed them the chance to clear the puck towards an empty net. That’s just what Big Josh Anderson did:
The expected goals were 3.43 to 1.13 in favor of the Hurricanes. Bob earned this win.
The Jackets split the season series with Carolina and tied the Canes in points, but trail them for the second wild card as they have a game in hand. Each is four points behind Pittsburgh and two ahead of Montreal. Columbus remains the Metro leader in regulation and overtime wins, with 39.
As Brian Giesenschlag pointed out on the postgame show: After struggling mightily at home for much of the season and immediately after the deadline, the Jackets have won three straight home games (in regulation!) against playoff teams: Pittsburgh, Boston, Carolina.
The Jackets travel to Beantown tomorrow for a rematch against the Bruins.