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Blue Jackets drag out the suspense, but fall in 8th round of the shootout

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Nashville wins 4-3 but the loser point on the road is good

Columbus Blue Jackets v Nashville Predators Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

The Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Predators in Nashville hoping to end their slide and put two points up in the standings. After falling into an early hole, the Jackets answered with three goals to take the lead. Nashville was able to force overtime, however. A back and forth OT period led to a long 8-round shoot out. Unfortunately, Nashville scored last and earned the 4-3 (SO) win. Here are your details.

First Period

The Big Thurk is in today while Milano is scratched. It’s probably time for Sonny to be moved along. Still, Calvin Thurkauf seems like a big man who wants to be a power forward. That’s right up Torts’ alley. What isn’t up Torts’ alley is allowing an early goal. Less than a minute into the game, Elvis makes a save but allows the rebound. That’s not the bad part. The bad part is that the rebound hits Pierre-Luc Dubois’ skate, caroms across the front of the goal and bounces off David Savard’s skate, and ends up right in front of Ryan Johansen. Not a heck of a lot Elvis can do there – the bad puck luck he’s faced the last few games is unreal.

I found myself hoping that that goal isn’t all Nashville needs today. Nashville has the run of play early as they put 5 shots on goal before Columbus can register one within the game’s first 4 minutes. Later in the period, PLD and Nick Foligno have a 2 on 1 opportunity, but Juuse Saros makes the save on PLD.

The first 10 minutes of the game highlighted that Nashville’s game plan was clearly to put deflections on Elvis Merzlikins. By this point in the period, the Predators had already put 5 deflections on net.

Shortly after, PLD loses control of the puck just as Markus Nutivaara joins the play to help him out. This leads to a 2 on 1 the other way between Filip Forsberg and Mikael Granlund. Zach Werenski gave up good position on Granlund to get caught in no-man’s land and Forsberg is able to make a nifty pass to Granlund for the goal.

It’s an odd thing – the griping about Z on that goal was immediate, but every CBJ defender does it. Whether it is Jones or Harrington, best to worst, they all end up in the middle – neither playing the passer nor the shooter. That makes me think it’s a defensive philosophy. I just don’t understand WHY?? It must work often enough. Perhaps we, as fans, simply only remember when it fails spectacularly.

Late in the period, PLD is called for a penalty but the penalty kill is up to the task.

The period ends with Nashville up 2-0 and an SOG edge of 17-9.

Second Period

The 2nd period kicked with speed as both teams traded scoring opportunities in the first minute. In the second minute of the period, Boone Jenner skates towards Nathan Gerbe, who is dutifully whacking at the puck in front of Saros. Jenner grabs the rebound from Gerbe’s second attempt and flips it over Saros for the goal. Assists went to Gerbe and Stefan Matteau. Mah Toe is a point per game player.

The cheering that accompanied that goal was so loud that I momentarily wondered if this was a home game. I’ve never heard a traveling contingent of CBJ fans do that. It was fantastic.

The Jackets maintained the early energy and momentum in the second period and collected the first 6 shots on goal. However, the Matt Duchene line took over and kept the puck in the CBJ zone for what seemed like eternity, but was only about a minute. It felt like another goal against was coming. Instead, the 4th line comes through for the Jackets. Vladislav Gavrikov keeps a puck in the zone which Jakob Lilja collects behind the net. Lilja makes a great pass to the slot where a streaking Eric Robinson slaps it past Saros to tie the game. Lilja and Gavvy get the assists.

This all happened in the first 5 minutes of the period.

The rest of the period included a lot of back and forth action, but the SOGs were mostly on the CBJ side. With about 5 minutes left in the period, Elvis comes up with a pair of fantastic saves.

These last few games have hurt his overall stats, and a lot of it has been terrible puck luck, but I like the fact that he doesn’t let goals against bother him in game. He buckled down after the 1st period and performed well.

With just under 3 minutes left, Nashville was called for a Delay of Game that seemed….close. PLD may have gotten a stick on the puck. Nevertheless, the call stood. Then Tortorella threw out a stellar power play lineup: Emil Bemstrom, Boone Jenner, Nathan Gerbe, David Savard, and Markus Nutivaara. Before I had time to say “What the he** is that lineup?”, the puck was in the back of the net. Bemstrom, with assists from Nuti and Savvy, finds himself with room to shoot and does it well. For a second, it looked like Boone had a tip, but not the case.

Things are looking pretty rosy. Until someone forgets Colton Sissons. Alone. In front of Elvis. Sissons is able to deflect a shot from Forsberg past Elvis to tie the game back up. It’s not often that an opponent can score 3 goals and I am comfortable saying the goalie had little chance on all 3, but that might be the new reality with the current slate of injuries.

The period ends with the game tied and Columbus having the SOG edge of 29 – 28.

Third Period

The 3rd period included a lot of energy from Columbus and more shots on goal. But that’s about it. No goals, one penalty, and a lot of skating. We’re off to overtime.

Overtime

OT was a back and forth affair. Columbus had the puck 5 times. Nashville had it 6 times. Nashville won all faceoffs in the extra period. There wasn’t a lot of magical play from either side though and the goalies were up to the task.

Shootout

8 rounds. Again, not a lot of creativity. The snipers who can snipe did so (PLD and Nyquist). Everyone else basically tried the same move except Nash. In the end, Nashville managed to get the 3rd shootout goal first and took the win, 4-3.

Random Musings

  • Nashville fans didn’t like the refs today. They also use the college ‘Sieve’ chant, which is cute.
  • I find it difficult to get worked up about TOI and usage when the roster is such a mishmash of NHL and AHL players. I didn’t notice anyone really get worked too badly – Andrew Peeke and Scott Harrington had some rough spots, but nothing crazy.
  • I think Elvis has done enough to be the #1 goalie for this team. But it’ll be good to see Joonas Korpisalo return, too. He took the victory for the Monsters in OT tonight.
  • Another loser point keeps the Jackets even in points, if not in point %.
  • The EBUG in Toronto helped Carolina beat the Maple Leaves tonight. He’s the Zamboni driver for the Toronto Marlies. That’s fantastic.