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Game #8 Recap: Blue Jackets struggle defensively but survive Devils as Voracek scores shootout winner

Here’s what happened.

NHL: FEB 16 Blue Jackets at Devils Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Columbus Blue Jackets, after struggling to a 4-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night, looked to bounce back on a late Sunday afternoon as they visited the New Jersey Devils.

The Blue Jackets announced that Jake Bean would be a game time decision, but did take warm-ups next to Zach Werenski. Yegor Chinakhov remained a healthy scratch for the club, while Joonas Korpisalo got the start in net.

Here’s what happened.

First Period

The Devils wasted absolutely no time getting their legs under them and finding the back of the net. After Nico Hischer was denied on an early attempt, Andreas Johnsson found a feed in the slot from Jesper Bratt and buried it past Joonas Korpisalo. Poor defending, and Korpisalo was beaten with relative ease.

New Jersey goal (0-1): Johnsson from Bratt and Subban, 1:07

Pretty poor start from Columbus who had to be looking for a fast get-up after their disappointing performance on Friday night. Somewhat surprisingly, their first signs of life were generated by Scott Harrington - the defenseman led a rush up the ice to create one change, and then had a shot that generated a rebound and forced Wedgewood to cover a follow-up from Max Domi. With 13:40, the Blue Jackets saw their first real chance, as Zach Werenski’s point shot was saved and bounced to Oliver Bjorkstrand, but his effort was denied by a sliding Wedgewood.

Shoutout to the Devils DJ playing My Chemical Romance between whistles. Respect.

The Johnsson/Bratt line had been killing Columbus on every shift, and through the middle part of the period, that did not change - a long shift in the defensive zone forced a Columbus icing just to get a breather. With 8:56 to go, the Blue Jackets earned a power play. A big save at the line by Patrik Laine led to a shot from Oliver Bjorkstrand that beat Wedgewood and tied the game.

Columbus goal (1-1): Bjorkstrand from Voracek and Laine, 11:54

With 5:06 to go in the period, Patrik Laine gave the Blue Jackets their first lead of the night. A turnover in the defensive zone and Jakub Voracek found Laine waiting for a pass and the one timer beat Wedgewood high.

Columbus goal (2-1): Laine from Voracek, 14:54

The teams continued to trade chances through the dying minutes, including a scrum in the Blue Jackets crease as time expired, but the Jackets managed to hang on to their 2-1 lead as first intermission arrived.

Second Period

The New Jersey Devils opened the second period by creating a 2 on 1 rush but it was broken up by Andrew Peeke, who slid and blocked the cross-ice pass. Nice defensive work. With 16:12 to go, Nico Hischier found Dougie Hamilton unmarked in the slot but he was denied with a nice glove from Korpisalo. End to end action in this one with the teams trading rushes to open the second frame.

With 13:42 remaining, the Blue Jackets went back to the power play as Cole Sillinger drew a holding penalty on Blake Siegenthaler. The Blue Jackets were unable to capitalize on the man advantage and, seconds after it ended, the Devils made them pay for it. After a scrum behind the net, Dawson Mercer came out and and wrapped a goal in behind Korpisalo. Horribly soft goal to allow from Korpisalo, who should have done much better.

New Jersey goal (2-2): Mercer from Subban, 8:37

It didn’t take New Jersey to retake the lead as Columbus struggled to find their footing in the second intermission. Pavel Zacha and Nico Hischier led a long shift in the Columbus zone and finally Dougie Hamilton was able to put the puck past Korpisalo. Extremely poor defending from Columbus.

New Jersey goal (2-3): Hamilton from Hischier and Zacha, 9:54

Korpisalo should have had both goals, regardless of the defensive effort. Simply not good enough.

The Blue jackets finally had a solid chance as Patrik Laine had a rush up the ice with seven minutes to go with just one defender and the goaltender to beat, but his shot missed the net wide. Alexandre Texier’s line also had a good shift, forcing a Wedgewood cover at the final TV timeout of the period.

In the dying seconds of the period, the Devils unleashed a flurry of chances at Korpisalo but the goaltender kept the deficit at one heading into the final frame.

Third Period

The Blue Jackets pushed hard to open the period but, with 17:04 remaining, went to the kill as Jake Bean was boxed for delay of game after throwing the puck into the crowd. Hischier was denied point blank by Korpisalo as the Jackets managed to kill off the penalty.

The teams seemed content to trade half-chances and neutral zone possession for the first third of the period until, on a rush up the ice, Jesper Bratt hit the post with just over 12 minutes remaining. Columbus, shaky defensively, gave up more than a few odd man rushes to New Jersey on the night.

Through the middle part of the period, frankly, nothing much happened. Neither team generated much offensively nor were they drawing penalties. That changed with 7:30 to go as Dawson Mercer caught Patrik Laine from behind and sent him face-first into the dasher and caused a scrum, but no penalty minutes were doled out.

With 5:25 to go, Boone Jenner intercepted a clearing pass and beat four Devils in the defensive zone and the goaltender to tie the game. Supreme effort from Jenner to tie the game.

Columbus goal (3-3): Jenner, unassisted, 14:35

With 3:33 remaining, Vladislav Gavrikov was boxed for cross checking Andreas Johnsson in front of Korpisalo as the Devils pushed to regain the lead. The Devils made a concerted effort to score and earned a 5 on 3 for thirty seconds as Scott Harrington was boxed for high sticking. Incredibly stupid penalty to take.

The Blue Jackets killed both penalties and earned a point as we went to overtime to determine a winner.

Overtime

The Devils had the better chances early in overtime, and Korpisalo took exception to a Dawson Mercer poke after covering the puck. Oliver Bjorkstrand hit the goalpost with 1:50 to in OT, the first real chance for either team - the puck rolled off a lot sticks in OT. Neither team found a winner, and it took a shootout to decide this one.

In the shootout, Jakub Voracek was the only goal scorer as he beat Wedgewood and brought the second point back to Columbus.

Final

Columbus Blue Jackets 4 New Jersey Devils 3 (SO)

Final Thoughts

Four goals and 10 points in seven games for Bjorkstrand. For a player who has historically started slowly, he’s blistering to start this season.

Zach Werenski with a career high in ice time tonight, over 30 minutes. Doing the heavy lifting for a blue line that is depleted right now.

Yegor Chinakhov scratched again. Gavin Bayreuther in the press box. For a team that struggles to score goals, scratching him and playing struggling players like Alexandre Texier and Scott Harrington (Harrington was atrocious yet again), making correct lineup decisions is paramount. Brad Larsen seems to be struggling to find the right match of guys. Chinakhov riding the pine for a second straight game is particularly inexcusable - he needs ice time to develop. Get him out there.

It’s clear who the best goaltender in Columbus is, and it’s not Joonas Korpisalo. Giving Elvis two out of every three starts until the trade deadline when (hopefully) the team can get an asset for Korpisalo is the best course forward. Play your best guy - and, with only two games this coming week, I would expect to see Elvis twice. Korpisalo made some saves, but he let a few bad ones in.

STOP. PLAYING. SCOTT. HARRINGTON. Even if you want to lose this season, play guys who “have a future here” and “don’t objectively make the team worse by stepping on the ice.” He might be a nice guy, but he’s a very bad NHL hockey player.

Up Next

The Columbus Blue Jackets head west to take on the Colorado Avalanche. Faceoff is set for Wednesday night at 9 PM EDT.