The Columbus Blue Jackets embarked on snowy Edmonton, Alberta Saturday night, facing an Oilers team that has sights on playoff hockey this spring. So too, a Jackets squad, needing a pivotal two points to stay afloat in the wild card race back East. With a win, they would reclaim the top spot.
Between the pipes for the Blue Jackets was their All-Star, Joonas Korpisalo, who needed to stand tall against two of the best in the game: perennial MVP Connor McDavid and league-scoring leader Leon Draisaitl. Finnish counterpart Mikko Koskinen was in net for the Oilers.
Right as Blue Jackets announcer Jeff Rimer said neither team had registered a shot on goal, the Oilers score at the 3:08 mark, the 10th of the season for Alex Chiasson. The assists went to Jujhar Khaira and James Neal.
Columbus, though, dictated most of the play at their end, leading the first period in shots 21-7. Here’s Alison with the graphical breakdown:
#Oilers lead 1-0, but that was a strong offensive period from #CBJ. Now they need to find a way to get results.— Alison (@AlisonL) March 8, 2020
Jackets at 5v5 with:
76.47% of shot attempts
74.49% of expected goals
That shot map is something: pic.twitter.com/MBJFHxpiFE
Neither team was able to convert on power plays through the first 40 minutes. Edmonton came in first in the league on the man-advantage (29.8%) and second on the penalty kill (84.5%) and was held without a shot on their lone power play in the second period. Columbus had five shots on their first-period power play and none on their final two, going 0-for-3 on the man-advantage.
In the latter stages of the second period, Riley Nash caught Kailer Yamamoto high and looking dazed on the bench in the aftermath. He stayed in the game.
The shots advantage was 30-13 for the Jackets through two frames, and of course, another one-goal game after two periods (made mention of this after the last game I recapped). For many reasons, this is typical Jackets. If you’re not going to let Draisaitl and McDavid kill you, you’ll severely outshoot the competition and probably lose.
Still 1-0 after two, #Oilers lead. #CBJ still winning the shot volume battle, but didn’t generate as much quality in the middle frame as they did to start.— Alison (@AlisonL) March 8, 2020
Jackets at 5v5 in the second with:
52% of shot attempts
43.79% of expected goals
Shot map (still nutso) pic.twitter.com/WN2evGRs9E
In the third period, it was close but no cigar for Emil Bemstrom as he shot wide over the net,, and Koskinen, who was down to leave a gaping net wide-open.
We would also have a Jones sighting. Not that one. But this one.
Caleb Jones beat Korpisalo from long-range to essentially put the dagger through. The goal is Caleb’s fourth, Chiasson picked up his second point with an assist, and Kris Russell grabbed a point.
Then a turnover in their own zone officially put this one out of reach as Connor McDavid’s 33rd put the Oilers ahead 3-0 for the Oilers second goal in 56 seconds. Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins assisted on the play.
The only silver-lining was the Blue Jackets would not be shutout by Koskinen, who entered this game with an .893 save percentage, which put him 32nd of 34th among goaltenders with at least 15 starts on home ice.
Zach Werenski’s up-ice pass found Gustav Nyquist to put the Jackets on the board with his second-chance effort on his 15th of the season.
But Edmonton salted this one away with an empty-netter from Riley Sheahan, with Josh Archibald assisted on that.
Columbus, falling 4-1 despite outshooting the Oilers 46-24, will be back in action at the Vancouver Canucks Sunday night at 10 pm est. One would think Elvis Merzlikins would get the start, after serving as Korpisalo’s backup against Edmonton.
Markus Nutivaara (22:19, two shots) slotted back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch against the Calgary Flames Wednesday night. Leon Draisaitl was held pointless, ending a four-game points-streak (six goals, five assists). Zach Werenski had a game-high eight shots and played a game-high 27:03. Gustav Nyquist had six shots while Kevin Stenlund had five shots.