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Blue Jackets barely edge Coyotes

It took extra extra time to decide this one.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Coming into tonight, the Arizona Coyotes had only two regulation wins in sixteen tries. The last time these two teams met, the Columbus Blue Jackets won an 8-2 barn burner where thirteen different Blue Jackets recorded a point. Standing in their way this time was Scott Wedgewood, who was boasting a .936 save percentage over the course of his three most recent starts. Could the Blue Jackets start off their desert trip with a win? Let’s take a look at what happened.

1st Period

Sean Kuraly gave the referees an easy call early with a slash to the hands of Clayton Keller. The fifteenth ranked penalty kill in the league was able to easily kill of the penalty. The problem is that Ryan Dzingel was able to get one past Elvis just as the penalty expired. The Jackets gave too much time and space to the shooter and allowed an uncontested screen down low.

ARI Goal 1-0: Dzingel (Galchenyuk, Capobianco) 5:59

Halfway through the period, déjà vu would strike as Kuraly would head back to the box for tripping. The result would be different this time even though the Jackets managed to give up a pretty bad 2-on-1 while on the kill. The effort and chances were there early for the Jackets, but Columbus penalties and Wedgewood were able to keep the good guys at bay.

The Coyotes would take their turn in the box late in the period when Jakob Chychrun slashed Boone Jenner in front of the net. It wouldn’t take long to get a positive result. Jakub Voracek found Jenner all alone in front of the net and the captain backhanded it past Wedgewood for this eighth goal of the season. Voracek’s assist extended his current point streak to seven games.

CBJ PP Goal 1-1: Jenner (Voracek, Werenski) 16:35

Highlight: Jenner’s goal was nearly identical to his PP goal against Detroit earlier in the season. My power play breakdown article from October took at look at that exact goal. The Blue Jackets power play is recognizing holes in the opponent’s kill and is able to exploit those weaknesses. This is good news for the rest of the season.

2nd Period

Play quickly went to 4-on-4 early in the period. Gregory Hoffman went off for interference and Barrett Hayton for embellishment. I can’t stand these offset penalties when embellishment is involved. It’s either embellishment or it isn’t. Pick one.

Elvis needed to stand tall early in this period. He made two fantastic saves in close to keep the game knotted at one.

The Jackets got their second power play of the night thanks to a trip by Barrett Hayton. They managed two shots on net, but neither were of the high danger variety. If there was ever a middle of the road power play attempt — neither here or there, good or bad — this was it.

After a few very sloppy minutes by both teams, chaos set in. The Coyotes scored their second of the night of a strange play. A loose puck headed towards the boards, Gavin Bayreuther seemed to be tripped while going for the puck, and an all alone Phil Kessel gathered and got the puck past Elvis.

ARI Goal 2-1: Kessel (unassisted) 16:29

Moments later, a bouncing puck in front of a sprawling Wedgewood would find Jenner’s stick. The goal scoring machine that is Boone Jenner roofed it over the Coyote goalie for his second of the night and ninth of the season.

CBJ Goal 2-2: Jenner (Bjorkstrand, Bean) 16:52

But wait, there’s more! Less than a minute after the Jenner goal, a Vladislov Gavrikov shot from the point found Justin Danforth’s stick in front of the net. The 28 year old rookie quickly snapped the puck past Wedgewood for his first NHL goal. It may have taken the Sacred Heart alumni ten years to reach the NHL, but it only took him two games to get his first goal.

CBJ Goal 3-2: Danforth (Gavrikov, Roslovic) 17:34

I wish the scoring would have stopped there, but it didn’t. Crouse was able to get his stick on a bouncing puck in the slot and rip it past a surprised Elvis.

ARI Goal 3-3: Crouse (Boyd, Chychrun) 19:17

Lowlight: You can call it puck luck if you’d like, but other teams scoring off of bouncing pucks in the slot is becoming a trend.

3rd Period

The Coyotes pinned the Jackets in their own zone for what seemed like an eternity to start the period. Fortunately, the Coyotes were not able to take the lead.

Cole Sillinger got his first fighting major after hitting Ryan Dzingel along the boards. Dzingel took exception and the two danced. Sillinger got dropped to the ice and Dzingel managed to get a few cheap shots in afterwards. I thought Dzingel deserved two extra for roughing, but the refs didn’t agree.

Columbus got their third power play chance moments later when Kessel cross checked Gavrikov. Roslovic had the best chances with a shot in close, but the game would remain 3-3.

At the halfway point, Jenner went off for holding. The Blue Jackets managed more chances short handed during the Coyote power play. As Jenner stepped out of the box, the Jackets entered the zone. A tic tac toe play found the puck right on Danforth’s stick. He was about two feet from the net with no goalie and he rang it off the post. It was painful to watch.

The Blue Jackets fourth power play of the night came after Keller got his stick up high on Gustav Nyquist. It didn’t take long for the Jackets to take advantage. A Werenski shot went off the post and bounced behind Wedgewood. It initially looked like Jenner swept it home for the hat trick, but the goal was later credited to Werenski as Jenner may not have actually touched the puck. Shoutout to Bally Sports for not coming back from commercial break until after the goal.

CBJ PP Goal 4-3: Werenski (Voracek, Bjorkstrand) 13:37

Unfortunately, the game would not end in regulation. Moments after the hat trick goal, the Jackets would allow another screen in front of Elvis. Chychrun was able to take advantage to bring the game back to even.

ARI Goal 4-4: Chychrun (Keller, Lyubushkin) 14:18

Lowlight: You simply cannot allow the other team to score a goal 41 seconds after you take the lead. The Jackets struggled all night defensively and gave up too many high danger chances.

OT

Jenner had multiple chances to pot his fourth thir goal, but was unable to convert. The Coyotes possessed the puck for most of extra time, but it would take shootouts to decide this game.

Shootout

It took extra time in shootouts to decide this one. Chinakhov scored in round seven to give the Jackets the win.

Final Thoughts

A win is a win, but this one was tainted by bad defensive play. The Jackets played well enough on offense to tilt the stats their way, but they gave up a total of fourteen even strength high danger chances to the worst team in the league. They need to tighten up their play in front of Elvis. Uncontested screens led to two Coyote goals and loose pucks in the slot continue to plague this team.

Up Next

The Blue Jackets face the Golden Knights in Las Vegas on Saturday. Puck drop is set for 10:00 PM EST.