The Columbus Blue Jackets, coming off a loss to the Washington Capitals in a thrilling matchup on Friday night, returned for a Saturday evening showdown with their second Metro Division matchup in two nights as they faced off with the New York Rangers.
The Rangers, third in the division at faceoff and ahead of the Blue Jackets by three points (with two more games played), came in with just one win in their last four games, a victory over the Panthers stopping a three game skid in Western Canada.
With the exception of goaltender, where Elvis Merzlikins got the start in net for Joonas Korpisalo, head coach Brad Larsen elected to make no other changes to the lineup.
Here’s what happened.
With 1:14 gone in the first period, Oliver Bjorkstrand won a puck battle and drew a penalty on K’Andre Miller as he charged to the net, giving the Blue Jackets their first power play of the evening. Igor Shesterkin saved the only two shots he faced, and New York killed the penalty with relative ease. Oliver Bjorkstrand was denied on a glorious chance in front of net with four minutes gone - the team’s leading scorer was active early. With 14:40 to go in the period, Chinakhov led a rush up the ice and saw his shot saved - another active forward early.
The Blue Jackets were given another power play with just over half the period to go as Sammy Blais was boxed for cross-checking Alexandre Texier. It took just 49 seconds for the Blue Jackets to capitalize - Oliver Bjorkstrand found Jakub Voracek as they crossed the blue line, and Voracek let a shot go from acres of space in between the circles and beat Shesterkin.
Columbus goal (1-0): Voracek from Bjorkstrand and Sillinger, 8:49
The Blue Jackets continued to push the Rangers around through the latter part of the period, leading in shots on goal 10-5 as the teams crossed the five minutes to go mark in the period.
With 2:32 to go, a sustained push by the Rangers late in the period rewarded them with the equalizing goal. Artemi Panarin was able to beat Elvis Merzlikins after a Gavrikov turnover led to a 2-on-1 and Adam Fox found the Russian, who put the puck into a gaping net.
Rangers goal (1-1): Panarin from Fox and Strome, 17:29
Bjorkstrand was stopped on the doorstep late heading into intermission. After 20 minutes played, the Blue Jackets closed the period with the game tied at one, but led the shots on net 12-9.
The teams continued their furious pace of play to open the second period, but neither was able to generate a high range chance. Zach Werenski saw a shot blockered aside, but that was an easy save from Shesterkin. With 13:04 remaining, the Blue Jackets regained the lead as Eric Robinson, in a matchup of fourth lines, found a space under Shesterkin’s arm and blew it through the goaltender and off the post and into the net. Quite the shot by Robinson.
Columbus goal (2-1): Robinson from Bean and Werenski, 6:56
It took just 45 seconds for the Rangers to respond as Trouba found Chris Kreider absolutely unmarked in front of the Columbus net and Kreider buried it past Merzlikins to tie the game again.
New York goal (2-2): Kreider from Trouba, 7:39
Another defensive breakdown and lost skaters in the defensive zone and a misplay by Merzlikins just 36 seconds later saw Artemi Panarin give the Rangers their first lead of the night. Maybe use your timeout, Brad?
New York goal (2-3): Panarin from Strome, 8:15
Hope. The Blue Jackets allowed their third goal in just over a minute on the very next shift as Jacob Trouba was able to capitalize on a pass from below the net from Barclay Goodrow. The wheels fell off, quickly.
New York goal (2-4): Trouba from Goodrow and Gauthier, 8:42
Finally, a timeout. Elvis misplayed the puck badly on one of the goals, but the skaters did him no favors marking late arriving Rangers. On the other two, the Blue Jackets skaters absolutely lost Rangers players and let them have free looks at Merzlikins which is a recipe for disaster. To add insult to injury, with 11:47 gone, Chinakhov was boxed for tripping and Merzlikins was forced to make another monster save on Kreider to keep it 4-2. The Jackets found a way to kill the penalty.
The Rangers utterly dominated the second period, outshooting Columbus 16-6, out scoring them 3-1, and earning a power play with 34 seconds to go for good measure as Boone Jenner was boxed for interference for a cross check in front of Shesterkin. To their credit, the Jackets didn’t allow a fourth goal in the dying seconds.
Panarin narrowly missed on a backhand early in the period before Robinson was denied on a shorthanded half-chance. After a defensive zone draw, Zibanajad found Kreider in front of the net (he had walked out and positioned himself in front of Zach Werenski) and buried a puck to give the Rangers a 5-2 lead.
New York goal (5-2): Kreider from Zibanajad and Fox, 0:52
Disgraceful performance defensively from Columbus. Losing players like they were the front office in the 2019 offseason.
The Jackets earned a power play at 1:57 of the period, a critical chance to get back into the game. Naturally, they made nothing of it.
This game felt and looking extremely like a late-era Torts game. Poor defensive coverage, Merzlikins left out to dry, no connection from the defense and forwards, and the top line completely invisible.
Elvis made a monster save with 12 minutes to go to keep it at a three goal deficit - a play better than the skater deserved on the night, if we’re being honest. Elvis got no help on the night.
With 6:45 to go, it appeared Vladislav Gavrikov scored a goal but it was secondary to what happened to the New York goaltender, Shesterkin. Ranger Nemeth pushed Alexandre Texier, who had left into the air, and Texier’s stick caught Shesterkin’s head and Shesterkin stayed down for several minutes. Shesterkin got up and left the crease and Alexandar Georgiev came into the game.
The goal was reviewed, but upheld - the puck hit Texier’s hand on the way in and was called a good goal.
Columbus goal (3-5): Texier from Gavrikov and Bayreuther, 13:15
No penalties came about as a result of the scrum and whistles, which is probably the right call (Texier did jump in the air in the direction of Shesterkin before he was pushed), but it did force Shesterkin from the game. Georgiev was forced to be sharp on the next shift as Robinson, buzzing all night, was denied on a wraparound.
New York Rangers 5 Columbus Blue Jackets 3
Fun note, courtesy of Aaron Portzline:
Jakub Voracek last scored for the Blue Jackets on March 9, 2011, against St. Louis. Brassard and Nash had the assists.#CBJ— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) November 14, 2021
Gustav Nyquist was active early in the offensive zone, easily his most impactful period after his return from injury. Good to see him around the net early and often. Didn’t hear much from him as the game got away from Columbus, but he was active early - a positive step.
Great for the power play to get on the board, especially for Jakub Voracek, primarily known as a playmaker. The Rangers expected him to dish (and he initially looked like he would) but vacated Broadway right to Shesterkin, and he buried it. Credit for taking advantage of an opening.
The three Rangers goals scored in 1:03 in the second period are the fastest three goals the Blue Jackets have allowed in franchise history. Not great!
No one in the NHL, per shot tracking metrics, scores goals closer to the net than Chris Kreider. Not marking him in front of net is a failure of back checking and coaching. Make players aware of tendencies. If a blogger can figure this out, surely a coach can.
Adam Boqvist, if healthy, needs to be back in the lineup. Who cares about what Gabriel Carlsson or Gavin Bayreuther might have done against Colorado - they are worse options than Boqvist and should never play in favor of him if he is healthy. I hope to see him Monday (again, if healthy).
Stop booing Artemi Panarin. He was a free agent and left. It’s not like he was the captain who asked to be traded or something, he had full right to leave under the CBA. Even Taylor Swift thinks that’s holding too petty of a grudge - let it go.
Eric Robinson was buzzing a lot on the night. He was quite active and offensively capable, and that was nice to see.
FINALLY - it is time to have a conversation about Jack Roslovic. Zero goals, three points, and not showing up in meaningful moments is not winning him and brownie points. His faceoff percentage, to his credit, is above 50% on the season, but he looks to have regressed literally everywhere else on the ice. He’s been DREADFUL this year and might need a game in the box just to get his head right. Struggling through it is clearly doing him no favors.
After dropping two straight for the first time all season, the Columbus Blue Jackets wrap up their three games in four nights homestand Monday night as the Detroit Red Wings come to Nationwide Arena. Faceoff is set for 7 PM EDT.