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Late Start in Edmonton? Blue Jackets Miss Memo, Fall Out of Playoff Picture With Latest Loss

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With time beginning to run out in the regular season, the Blue Jackets’ playoff hopes keep taking hits with latest loss.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Last time these teams met Mar. 2 in Columbus, the Edmonton Oilers blanked the Blue Jackets 4-0, with Connor McDavid dishing out three assists and Mikko Koskinen making 30 saves in the shutout.

On Thursday night from Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, the rematch was on. Without it necessarily being a must-win for Columbus, a loss, at any juncture of the season this point forward, exponentially proves more costly for a team who entered last night’s contest clinging to a one-point edge over the Canadiens for the East’s second wild card.

At the start, it was again the 6’7” Koskinen between the pipes for Edmonton against Joonas Korpisalo, getting the rare start for Columbus. For the second-straight game, Columbus found the back of the net first but wound up on the short end of the scoreboard, losing to the Oilers 4-1 as Koskinen made 19 saves and Leon Draisaitl had three assists to go along with McDavid’s goal and assist.

Both teams got off to a slow start, with Edmonton registering their first shot of the game inside the five-minute mark, and the two teams combined for just six shots on goal throughout the first 20 minutes. Defensively, the Blue Jackets’ strength came among the shot-blocking variety with eight in the opening frame alone.

So, if you ran into that technical difficulty issue, take solace in the fact you were better off than watching that first period drudge match!

While most of you might have been sleeping, Korpisalo was not lulled to sleep, making the quick glove save on Edmonton’s first shot inside the five-minute mark of the second period. He had 18 saves for the night.

The defensive battle made way for Columbus getting the games’ first goal at 11:35 with David Savard’s sixth goal. Markus Nutivaara, returning after a one game absence due to illness and playing 23:04 for the evening, got on the scoresheet with the primary assist, the play developing from his pass banked off the boards and up the ice to Ryan Dzingel. Dzingel got the puck back to Nutivaara, who unleashed the shot toward the net and found Savard with the tip-in.

Edmonton countered fast, tying things up just under two minutes later. Following a play along the boards, Kyle Brodziak picked up the puck in open space, scoring his sixth with a snap shot around Zach Werenski and to the right of Korpisalo.

After 40 minutes, the Jackets had 14 blocked shots to Edmonton’s 10 shots on goal. Columbus had 12 shots through two.

Fast transition play tilted the scoreboard in Edmonton’s favor inside the opening third period minute. A 3-on-1, with Connor McDavid and Draisaitl involved, is never a site goaltenders or opposing defenseman want to see. Both picked up assists as Zack Kassian buried his 14th goal of the season. Seth Jones was in no-man’s land and Korpisalo also had no chance.

Trying to find the games’ equalizer, the dagger was struck through the Jackets, courtesy of McDavid’s 37th. A turnover inside the blue line quickly turned into a rush with Draisaitl finding McDavid on the other side of Werenski and all alone on Korpisalo’s doorstep.

There was only one penalty in the game and it was the Oilers who had that power play opportunity. And their last goal, to salt the wound and put the game out of reach, looked just like the other goals. One defenseman against a sea of orange sweaters. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins did the honors with his 25th, Draisaitl picked up his third assist for the night.

The loss knocks the Jackets out of the playoff picture for the time being, as they now look up at the Canadiens, who take over the second wild card spot with their 4-0 win over the Islanders.

In two games this season, the Oilers outscore Columbus 8-1, with Draisaitl scoring six points (one goal, five assists), and McDavid racking up five points (one goal, four assists). Columbus will lick their wounds and attempt to pick themselves up to salvage the last game of the Western Canada swing with another late start, this time at 10 p.m. EST Sunday night from Vancouver to battle the Canucks, a team four points outside of the wild card race out west.

Additional Notes

As alluded to at the top by Jody Shelley’s tweet, Sergei Bobrovsky was “nicked” according to John Tortorella, making the goaltender inactive, and thus propelling Joonas Korpisalo into the crease. Keith Kinkaid was the No. 2 backup. In practice earlier in the day, Kinkaid was involved in a collision with Josh Anderson, who lost an edge in a drill but both were fine. Nick Foligno missed his third-consecutive game for personal reasons. Eric Robinson (8:50) was back in the lineup in lieu of Lukas Sedlak. Connor McDavid came into play with the fewest games of any player without a point (9), while teammate Leon Draisaitl came in tied with the third-fewest (18). Lines were juggled as Panarin (19:13, 0 shots) found himself on a line with Boone Jenner and Oliver Bjorkstrand in the third period. Panarin has no goals, five assists in March; he has three goals since Feb. 16 when he had two at the Blackhawks. Cam Atkinson has three goals, two assists this month, and Pierre-Luc Dubois has no points during the month of March.