The Columbus Blue Jackets closed out their western Canada swing with a matchup against the Vancouver Canucks. Both teams entered the game on a swoon, both .500 or worse in their last ten games. Both teams still harbor playoff dreams, but these recent results have put their dreams on life support of late.
As a result, two points would be critical for either side.
The Jackets got a boost with the return of Elvis Merzlikins from injury, fully recovered after taking a hit from Anthony Duclair some two weeks ago and he made his first start since February 24.
The Blue Jackets also got Ryan Murray back, who missed a game but drew back in for Scott Harrington.
Torts confirms Elvis Merzlikins returns to the #CBJ net tonight. Also, good news on the injury front — Ryan Murray returns, going in for Scott Harrington.— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) March 9, 2020
With the team probably tired (and, frankly, your recapper is exhausted), let’s see what happened.
Vancouver opened the game on the front foot much as they did in the first meeting, dominating offensive zone time and registering the first two shots on goal in the game. Elvis came up with two big saved at the 4:15 mark, showing his sharpness early in the game after a turnover behind the net. Meanwhile, it took the Jackets seven minutes of game time to register a single shot on Thatcher Demko.
The Jackets found their sea legs throughout the middle part of the period, buoyed somewhat by killing a David Savard interference penalty. The Shore/Lilja/Matteau line looked active early, playing physically. Jakob Virtanen had the first real chance of the night, hitting the post behind Elvis with 13 minutes gone in the period but the teams remained scoreless.
Neither team was able to truly get scoring chances or threaten the back of the net outside of Virtanen’s attempt - shots were 6-3 in favor of Vancouver with three minutes to go in the period.
With 11.7 seconds to go, Quinn Hughes went off for hooking Boone Jenner. The Jackets were unable to get a shot off in that time before intermission.
After 20 minutes, the Jackets and Canucks were tied at zero. Shots favored the Canucks 6-3.
One night later, complete and utter puck domination by the #Canucks over the Blue Jackets.— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) March 9, 2020
Score 0-0, though, unlike last night in Edmonton, when the #CBJ dominated possession in the first and trailed 1-0 at the first break. pic.twitter.com/mjfwtMhFrL
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the power play was an abject disaster. The Jackets allowed two shots on goal; they had zero of their own.
The Jackets had their best chance of the game to that point with 15:56 to go in the second. Alex Wennberg found PLD in the neutral zone and, after looking off Emil Bemstrom, PLD fired a shot that was snagged by Demko.
A loose puck found its way behind Elvis with 14:20 to go but Werenski was able to clear it from danger. Seconds later, Werenski was slashed in the hand and was in some difficulty but remained on the bench after checking his hands.
After a battle below the goal line, PLD was able to generate a chance that Bemstrom finished. Dubois, the power forward, drew all of the attention and Bemstrom was able to come open and bury a shot at 7:18 of the second period.
Columbus goal (1-0): Bemstrom from Dubois and Wennberg, 7:18
Seconds later, David Savard was sent to the box for the second time tonight as he was nailed for high sticking. After getting hemmed in, the team allowed just two shots and kept Vancouver off the scoreboard as we crossed the halfway mark of the second period.
With 5:00 remaining in the second, Tyler Toffoli found himself on a breakaway but his shot hit the outside of the post, the second such effort for the Canucks on the night. Vancouver began to take control late in the period, forcing several good saves from Elvis and scramble drills from the Columbus defense.
In the dying seconds of the period, David Savard circled the net and found Eric Robinson in the slot with a pass from below the goal line and the Jackets doubled their lead with just seconds to go in the second.
Columbus goal (2-0): Robinson from Savard and Gavrikov, 19:32
After 40 minutes, the Jackets trailed 15-10 on the shot chart but led 2-0 on the score sheet.
A Vancouver goal was able to draw the Canucks close, but the Jackets held on for a 2-1 victory.
Columbus Blue Jackets 2 Vancouver Canucks 1
The Jackets have a couple days off before playing host to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night at Nationwide Arena. Faceoff is set for 7:00 EST.
Stay tuned to The Cannon for more coverage of the stretch run!