After a dismal performance against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday, the Columbus Blue Jackets returned to the friendly confines of Nationwide Arena looking to get back on track against the New York Islanders.
The Blue Jackets lineup was caved in against the Red Wings, leading some fans to critique the usage of some players, including rookies Yegor Chinakhov and Cole Sillinger. Head coach Brad Larsen, however, was not going to overreact to the outcomes.
No lineup changes for #CBJ tonight other than Elvis Merzlikins getting the start in net per Brad Larsen.— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) October 21, 2021
The Blue Jackets also called up Gabriel Carlsson, expected to be an extra defenseman on the roster as the Cleveland Monsters will be in Canada, potentially complicating call ups.
Head coach Brad Larsen also announced that, after a maintenance day at practice on Wednesday, Zach Werenski would be in the lineup while Elvis Merzlikins got the start in net.
Here’s what happened.
The Blue Jackets, after their struggles against the Red Wings, looked to start fast against the Islanders and were rewarded with an early power play just 4:27 into the game as Kyle Palmieri was boxed for goaltender interference. Elvis was slightly shaken up but was okay, and the Islanders managed to kill the first penalty. Minutes later, Gavrikov limped to the bench after blocking a shot but did not miss his next shift.
After back and forth action, Adam Boqvist drew a tripping penalty with 14:41 gone in the period. Columbus was unable to generate much on the power play, and the Islanders managed to kill it off.
Laine was boxed with 2:23 remaining in in the period for slashing. Despite a solid chance shorthanded from Cole Sillinger, the period ended tied 0-0 as the Blue Jackets killed the Islander power play.
The second period started much the same as the first, with the Blue Jackets on the front foot. After a stellar Merzlikins stop, the Blue Jackets earned their third power play of the evening at 3:48 as Casey Cizikas went to the box for hooking. Like the two efforts before it, however, this power play came up empty.
On a rush attempt at the 13 minute mark, Alexandre Texier was denied on a rush up the ice as Cole Sillinger looked for the rebound in front of Isles net. The teams continued to trade end to end action through the middle of the period, but both netminders remained sharp. It took a turnover from the Blue Jackets to give up a goal in this one - after Adam Boqvist threw a pass up the wall, Scott Mayfield pounced past a flat footed Eric Robinson and walked to the net before throwing it past Elvis Merzlikins. Robinson cannot stand and wait for the puck there - he has to go to it.
Islanders goal (0-1): Mayfield, unassisted, 10:35
The Islanders began to exert control in this one, dominating puck possession and preventing the Blue Jackets from establishing any zone time. Like in Detroit, Columbus could not find ways to clear the puck and give their defense/goaltender a reprieve. With 5:55 remaining, Voracek went to the box for tripping, handing a hot Islanders team more momentum with a power play. The Jackets managed to kill the penalty and earn a power play of their own - Cole Sillinger was hit with a high stick from Casey Cizikas.
It did not take the Jackets long to capitalize - Jakub Voracek let a shot go and Boone Jenner tipped it in from the slot to equalize. The goal was initially credited to Oliver Bjrosktrand but was later changed.
Columbus goal (1-1): Jenner from Bjorkstrand and Voracek, 18:00
Seconds later, the Jackets grabbed the lead. Cole Sillinger bagged his first career NHL goal as he walked in from the slot and buried a pass from the corner. What a moment for the rookie.
Columbus goal (2-1): Sillinger from Gavrikov and Bjorkstrand, 18:33
Cole Sillinger's first NHL goal gives the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead in the 2nd period! pic.twitter.com/UOwKYtPgQe— Bally Sports Columbus (@BallySportsCBUS) October 22, 2021
The Islanders started the period on the front foot, looking to find a tying goal but timely goaltending from Elvis Merzlikins was able to keep the Blue Jackets out in front. The Islanders pressure finally paid off as a cycle play following a long shift in the defensive zone saw a Mathew Barzal shot beat Elvis Merzlikins high. Two players screened Elvis and the shot beat the netminder high over his shoulder.
New York goal (2-2): Barzal from Dobson and Martin, 5:03
Through the middle of the period, the game began to open up as teams began to trade end to end chances looking for a go-ahead goal but neither could break through. Elvis continued to make stellar stops as the Blue Jackets struggled to establish offensive zone time. Patrik Laine, with seven minutes to go, had a chance to let a blast go but it was unable to beat the Islanders netminder.
The Blue Jackets played quite well in the third period, aside from the goal against. As the period wore on, the team began to find chances and look for opportunities but were unable to beat Sorokin. As the period came to a close, the teams remained gridlocked at two - it would take extra time to decide a winner. The Islanders led in shots 34-30.
Boone Jenner won the faceoff and immediately left the ice for Cole Sillinger, leaving the opening shift as Sillinger/Bjorkstrand/Werenski - nice group to build around. The Islanders had the better of play to start overtime as Mat Barzal just missed the net.
Patrik Laine took a pass from Werenski and circled the zone before roofing his second overtime winner of the season past Sorokin to give the Jackets the win and the two points.
New York Islanders 2 Columbus Blue Jackets 3 (OT)
Stick taps to Cole Sillinger for his first NHL goal. What a moment for the rookie, a night he won’t soon forget.
What a laser from Laine. It’s early in the season, but he certainly looks better than the player we saw last season. Keep this up and stick around long term.
The Blue Jackets have points in three of four games to start the season. A welcome surprise.
Elvis Merzlikins was outstanding keeping Columbus in this in stretches. The team struggled at gaining possession in stretches, were hemmed in for long periods of time, but survived because of their goaltender. He did enough to earn his third win of the season.
The Columbus Blue Jackets welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to Nationwide Arena on Saturday night, October 23, 2021. Faceoff is set for 7:00 EDT.