What a way to start the west coast trip.
Elvis Merzlikins made 35 saves and the Blue Jackets got goals from Nathan Gerbe, Scott Harrington, Kevin Stenlund, and Gustav Nyquist as Columbus beats the Kings 4-2 Monday night from Staples Center. Jonathan Quick made 20 saves.
The way this one started, Los Angeles was faster and if not for Merzlikins, the Kings could have put this out of reach early. Alex Iafallo — points in seven-straight — struck first on the scoreboard, beating Merzlikins five-hole, and on the third rebound opportunity just 1:26 in for his ninth. Anze Kopitar and Sean Walker assisted.
But as mentioned, Merzlikins was forced to be on his game throughout the period, as he tracked down and saved a few point-blank Kings chances.
Elvis made 15 saves on 16 first period shots. Blue Jackets play as sleepy as all of us on the east coast .— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) January 7, 2020
Maybe Torts wakes the troops up.
No doubt the Blue Jackets needed to respond better to start the second period. They got that from Gerbe — he’s kind of a stud — who unleashed a one-time howitzer from the top of the slot for the goal, his second this season. And Nyquist is the man who got that pass over to Gerbe for his assist on the play, as well as Pierre-Luc Dubois getting an assist.
It was a nice play that originated from center ice with Dubois on the puck, finding Nyquist, and Dubois helping drag the Kings defenders down low, as Nyquist cycles back up to find Gerbe.
Harrington made good on his play into the lineup, scoring his first goal of the season, giving Columbus the 2-1 lead, and Sonny Milano earning the assist.
Look at Harrington skating into the frame — not to mention the vision from Milano to find Harry with the pass — and putting one past the falling Quick who couldn't get down in time for the stop.
It was obviously a much better period for Columbus, who outscored the Kings 2-0, despite getting outshot 10-6 in the middle frame, and 26-16 overall through 40. Guys like Gerbe continuing to show the way and getting rewarded as a result.
Gerbe getting a well deserved promotion. Playing with Dubois/Nyquist. #CBJ— Mark Scheig (@markscheig) January 7, 2020
Adrian Kempe missed on a 3-on-1 chance in the early going of the third period and it was Stenlund who was able to find the puck in the back of the net on the other end to give Columbus the lead 3-1. It’s Stenlund’s third of the season.
Zach Werenski stays hot picking up an assist and Alexander Wennberg picked up the point.
It was a good thing Columbus scored the third goal as L.A. scored their second when Walker — later changed to Trevor Lewis — found the back of the net. Walker’s shot through traffic hit somewhere off Lewis in front of Merzlikins for the goal, his second of the year. In addition to Walker getting the assist, Kyle Clifford also picked up a point.
Holding on late, Merzlikins and the Jackets staved off the Kings attack, and Nyquist sealed the win with the empty-net goal for his 10th of the season, with Dubois getting his second assist.
For the game, the Kings outshot the Blue Jackets 37-24, and while it wasn’t a perfect game, it was a very satisfying victory for Columbus. They have now picked up points in 13 of their last 14 games, sweeping the season series from the Kings, and looking to make up ground on the Metropolitan Division.
They are one point back of the Flyers for fifth, two back of the Hurricanes for fourth. The Flyers play at the Hurricanes Tuesday night from Carolina. Columbus looks to keep ascending towards the top Tuesday night from Honda Center as they battle the Ducks. Anaheim won the first meeting in Columbus back in October 2-1.
It’s also satisfying as I correctly called tonight’s final score.
Hmm I’m not sure. But my prediction is 4-2— William Chase (@WillChase_) January 7, 2020
Alexander Wennberg played in his 400th career game tonight. Zach Werenski was named the NHL’s Third Star of the week on Monday afternoon. Emil Bemstrom, who was activated off IR Saturday, and Markus Nutivaara made their returns to the lineup. Cam Atkinson participated in a full team practice Sunday but did not skate Monday. He could be a candidate to return Tuesday at the Ducks. John Tortorella coached his 1,300th career game tonight, trailing Mike Babcock (1,301) for 12th all-time. Seth Jones led the Blue Jackets on the ice (23:24), Drew Doughty for the game (26:32). Sean Walker led the game with six shots. Boone Jenner was 50.0% from the face-off dot, while Pierre-Luc Dubois was 37.5%. No other Blue Jacket won more than one faceoff. Nathan Gerbe led the Blue Jackets with four shots. The Blue Jackets were 0-for-1 on the power play, and the Kings did not have a power play.