After Tuesday night’s game, which featured a horrible effort, a late blown lead, and a shootout loss, the Columbus Blue Jackets responded against the Florida Panthers with a much better performance, a late blown lead, and a shootout...win.
The very beginning of the game was special, with Columbus native Jack Roslovic taking the opening faceoff in Nationwide for his first shift as a Blue Jacket. Unfortunately that was the most notable moment of the night for Roslovic. He was the only Columbus skater without a 5v5 shot attempt.
The first period on Tuesday was a disaster, and tonight’s was a complete reversal. The Jackets dominated play early and held a 23-15 shot attempt advantage for the first 20 minutes.
The opening goal came from an unlikely source: Mikko Koivu. Eric Robinson came down the ice with speed and skated behind the Florida net. He passed to Riley Nash, who was stationed in the crease, and a trailing Koivu slipped in undetected to knock in the deflection.
No angle is too sharp for No. 9.— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 29, 2021
: Kukan pic.twitter.com/U6S2JJyTIp
The momentum continued for the first half of the second period, then the ice started to tilt towards the Panthers. The Jackets survived one scary moment when Elvis Merzlikins appeared to freeze the puck, but didn’t get his whistle. By the time he coughed up the puck, the Panthers were nearby and the goal was open. Shortly thereafter, there was a shift where two Jackets were defending without sticks.
With each second that ticked off, I became more and more certain that Florida would get back into the game thanks to something dumb. Sure enough, they bounced on a rare mistake from Alexandre Texier, whose weak outlet pass attempt to Eric Robinson was intercepted by Anthony Duclair, with Carter Verhaeghe scoring off the rebound.
What adds injury to this insult is that Duclair’s stick smacked Michael Del Zotto in the face, drawing blood. It should have been no goal and a double minor for the Blue Jackets. Instead, they once again found themselves tied at 1-1 going into the third period.
The Jackets were dreadful on the power play on Tuesday, but something finally clicked tonight. They earned a power play in the third period thanks to a hustle play by Liam Foudy (who had one of his best games tonight).
The power play started with an all-important faceoff win from Max Domi. The puck went to Zach Werenski, who then passed back to Domi. Did Domi just stand there? Did he settle the puck and wait for a minute? HELL NO. He shot a damn one timer top shelf for the go-ahead goal.
This should count as two goals just sayin' pic.twitter.com/x9IVPQKVUb— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 29, 2021
There was another power play a few minutes later, and while it didn’t result in a goal it did feature another Domi faceoff win, which resulted in about 40 seconds of offensive zone possession to start power play. Did you know it’s a lot easier when you don’t have to battle to regain entry? Wow!
Unfortunately the Jackets couldn’t hold the lead. They were outshot 12-18 in the third period, and that led to another Dumb Goal.
Elvis Merzlikins had his best start of the season tonight, with 35 saves. Would be nice to have that goal back, however.
Overtime & Shootout
It was the best overtime period of the season for the Jackets, with a 6-2 shot attempt advantage (4-2 on scoring chances).
The shootout was dreadful to start, with Cam Atkinson, Oliver BJORKSTRAND having weak efforts. Elvis was sharp against Duclair, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Frank Vatrano. Finally, Sexy Texi came through with a nifty shootout move: a light, one-handed poke through the five hole. Elvis stood tall against Patric Hornqvist to seal the win.
We’re going to dream about this goal tonight— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 29, 2021
After two regulation losses to Nashville to start the season, the Blue Jackets have earned a point in six straight games. Four of those games have gone beyond regulation.
With the two points, the Jackets pass those Predators for first place in the Discover Central Division. They have also played the most games in the division (tied with Chicago).
The Jackets are back at it tomorrow night in Chicago for the first game of the season against the Blackhawks.