The Columbus Blue Jackets hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins for their final preseason game. The roster appears to be mostly set, but this game was an opportunity for a few guys to battle for the last few spots. Let’s take a look at what happened.
The Blue Jackets came out with an energetic start and dominated possession off the bat. Peeke got beat early by Rodrigues, and it wouldn’t be the first time in the game the defensive would get burned at their own blue line, but the shot went just wide of Elvis. Laine continued his strong play by skating alone into the zone and getting a nice shot off on Jarry, but the goalie made a nice stop.
The Jackets would strike first at 13:27. Bean made a nice cross ice pass to an open Bjorkstrand who buried it past Jarry to make it 1-0.
If you want a second look at this beauty pic.twitter.com/EGwzZ2Smfx— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) October 9, 2021
The Blue Jackets got their first powerplay at 12:37 on a Brian Boyle hold. The good puck movement on the man advantage continued, even without Werenski in the lineup, and both units looked dangerous. No goal could be generated, though.
Immediately after the powerplay, Kuraly committed a goalie interference penalty and Mark Friedman retaliated on the Columbus center by spearing him up near the neck. Friedman was docked a five minute major and a game misconduct. Sam Lafferty was also called for interference on the play. The ultimate result was a five minute powerplay for the Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets struggled to get set up on the long powerplay. They finally managed to make it into the zone, but it ended up being a pretty disappointing five minutes.
At 2:55, Chad Ruhwedel took a wicked shot off the rush that made it past Elvis to make it 1-1. The quick wrister seemed to surprise the Columbus goalie and the location of the shot didn’t give him much of a chance to make the save. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the shooter.
The Blue Jackets would get their third powerplay when Chinakhov drew a trip while driving to the net. The kid seems to have a knack for drawing penalties. The period ended before the powerplay expired.
To begin the period, the Penguins would kill off the few seconds left on the Blue Jackets powerplay. Cole Sillinger got a good look early on a nice feed from Jenner. Sillinger only managed to get a solid swipe on the puck, but Jarry was ready for the rushing forward.
The Penguins would get their first powerplay when Voracek hooked Jason Zucker. Fortunately, the Blue Jackets would kill off the penalty without much incident. The fourth line would come up big soon after. At 6:35, Robinson would win a battle along the boards and get off a quick pass to Kuraly. The Columbus native would make it 2-1 with a rocket that got past Jarry.
He's saving the Kuraleap for regular season pic.twitter.com/sNRPagNu1B— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) October 10, 2021
Voracek would get his second penalty of the night, but that would also get killed off.
At 17:52, Sillinger made a great defensive play and quickly found Domi in the slot. Domi sent a one timer right past Jarry to make it 3-1. It was a heck of a play by an 18 year old.
Peep that Sillinger pic.twitter.com/SnZy50GC0D— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) October 10, 2021
It was all downhill from there. At 9:38, Robinson, Lehtonen, and Bayreuther all got caught sleeping at the blue line as Bryan Rust blew past them for a five hole goal on Elvis. That was probably a savable shot for Elvis, but Rust’s speed and the surprise of the play might have gotten the better of him.
After dominated a long stretch of play, Teddy Blueger and the Penguins would tie the game on a long shot that made it through traffic.
To make matters worse, Jake Bean would commit a double minor on a high stick with only 4:07 left. Fortunately, the Penguins would commit their own penalty halfway through to make it 4 on 4 the rest of the way.
Shortly into OT, after a good chance by Voracek, the Blue Jackets would commit a too many men penalty. This one was really unfortunate as it was caused by the Penguins rimming the puck around at just the right moment and catching a changing Blue Jacket. The result was a Jason Zucker powerplay goal for the 4-3 Penguin win.
If you take away the third period, this game was a decent one by the Blue Jackets. They dominated possession at times and looked like a cohesive team. The Penguins were without their best players, but it was still an NHL matchup. Elvis needs to be better, but the Blue Jackets will be in position to win games if they can manage to build on what they showed in this game.
Battling for Position
Cole Sillinger - The kid was good tonight and has likely locked up his spot in the opening night lineup. He was 71% from the faceoff dot and made a great defensive play and then a nice pass to set up Domi for a goal.
Yegor Chinakhov - I’ve noticed that he drew quite a few penalties in the preseason. That’s usually a sign that you are doing something right. He only saw 9:22 of ice time, which isn’t ideal. I think there may be a question mark here. Come opening night, I’d rather see him in Cleveland than on the fourth line.
Andrew Peeke - He had an OK night. His one glaring moment was probably getting burned early, but he seemed to recover after that. It’s a horse race between him, Lehtonen, and Bayreuther for those last two spots.
Alexandre Texier - He will likely make the opening night lineup, but I don’t expect it to be on the top line. He was largely invisible tonight and didn’t seem to fit between Voracek and Laine. Personally, I think Bemstrom deserves a spot over Texier based on his preseason performance, but the thin center depth may be enough to keep Texier in the lineup.
Preseason is over. Official rosters are due Monday and opening night against the Arizona Coyotes is Thursday. You can catch the game at Nationwide Arena or on Bally Sports Ohio at 7pm.