Elvis Merzlikins faced 72 shot attempts, 41 of them on goal, and turned away all but two. Thanks to his heroic efforts, the Blue Jackets were able to hold off the Vancouver Canucks in a game they didn’t have any business winning. The Blue Jackets have been on the wrong side of the “Deserve To Win O’Meter” many times, so it’s a welcome sight to see them steal a victory.
Similar to the win against Arizona, it wasn’t pretty, but it is two more points in the bank and it improves the Blue Jackets to an impressive 12-6 record.
Let’s see how it went down.
It looked like the Blue Jackets had struck early when Yegor Chinakhov stuffed a puck through the five hole of Canucks goalie, Thatcher Demko. Vancouver coach, Travis Green, immediately challenged the goal, alleging the play was offside.
Unfortunately, it was determined that Chinakhov had beaten Jake Voracek into the zone and the goal was negated. It was a very close play, but ultimately the correct call was made.
From there, the Canucks took control of the game (and never really let go), generating the first five shots of the game, including a shot from Nils Hoglander on a rebound off the back wall, requiring a huge save by Elvis to rob him of a sure goal.
Oliver Bjorkstrand drew a penalty right after when he was tripped along the wall in the defensive zone. Vancouver played heavy on the kill, landing a big hit on Jake Voracek that caused him to skate gingerly off the ice. Cole Sillinger was blasted into the boards from behind by Luke Schenn with no call, much to the chagrin of the fans in Nationwide. Thankfully both players were out there for their next shift.
Vancouver maintained pressure and kept the Jackets on their heels. After a save by Merzlikins, Zach Werenski was dumped in front of the net by Nils Hoglander. Werenski retaliated and confronted multiple Canuck players, and was sent to the box for roughing.
The Jackets headed to the penalty kill under siege, having been outshot 12-1 at that point.
After passing the puck around the zone for a bit, Gus Nyquist picked off a pass, turned on the jets and beat Demko top shelf on a breakaway for his 4th goal of the season. The Blue Jackets had the only shot on the Vancouver power play and put it in the back of the net. The shorthanded goal was the Jackets’ second of the year.
Hustle. Loyalty. Respect. pic.twitter.com/7AIZj2pypB— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) November 27, 2021
1-0 CBJ (Nyquist Unassisted)
Vancouver kept their foot on the gas for the remaining minutes and finally were able to convert when the Blue Jackets failed to clear the zone and caught a few players headed the other way. Vasiliy Podkolzin walked in on a 2-on-1 and beat Merzlikins top shelf over his glove with less than thirty seconds remaining in the period.
1-1 (Podkolzin from Dowling)
Jackets headed into the second period tied, despite being outshot 13-4. Their CF% was an abysmal 19.2%.
Vancouver carried their momentum into the middle frame, maintaining offensive zone time for the first few minutes of the second. Columbus didn’t register their 5th shot until more than five minutes in. The Canucks were clearly the more desperate team and were first to the majority of loose pucks, and constantly applied pressure on the Jackets’ puck carriers, causing multiple turnovers.
Thankfully, the Jackets were very opportunistic in this one and were able to stay in the game by converting on the few chances they had. In their first stretch of maintained offensive zone time, Adam Boqvist snuck in from the point and buried a rebound from a Gavin Bayreuther shot from the blue line.
NHL Video Highlight - Adam Boqvist scores against the Vancouver Canucks to make it 2-1. pic.twitter.com/hKoGaMfV8Q— Blue Jackets Game Bot (@CBJGameBot) November 27, 2021
2-1 CBJ (Boqvist from Bayreuther and Sillinger)
Yegor Chinakhov was sent off for delay of game shortly after the goal, when he flipped a puck over the glass, despite being under very little pressure. Elvis Merzlikins came up big on the penalty kill turning away all five shots on net. The Jackets were more than tripled up on shots (22-7) at the halfway mark of the game, but were leading where it mattered: the scoreboard.
The Blue Jackets continued to hang on and keep the one goal lead until the end of the period. Once again, the Blue Jackets gave up a late period goal to the Canucks. Former Blue Jacket, Tyler Motte, redirected a shot past Merzlikins for his first goal of the year with about a minute and a half left in the period.
2-2 (Motte from Hughes and Chiasson)
Why is it so hard for the Jackets to close out a period?
From the start of the final period, Elvis had to be sharp as Vancouver picked up where they left off, peppering Merzlikins with shots.
Similar to the second period, the first time the Jackets maintained possession in the Vancouver zone, they made it count. After multiple attempts that missed the net, the puck found Jack Roslovic in the high slot. Demko was screened in front and didn’t see the puck as it deflected off the leg of Quinn Hughes before entering the net. It was the Blue Jackets’ 3rd goal on only their 14th shot. Quality over quantity was the name of the game tonight for the Jackets.
3-2 (Roslovic from Voracek and Gavrikov)
The third was definitely a more balanced period than the first two, with both teams trading chances. Elvis made his biggest save of the game around the ten minute mark when he denied Connor Garland’s breakaway slapshot. The Blue Jackets had a few more tense moments in their defensive zone, but managed to keep the puck out of their net.
The minutes continued to tick away with the Jackets playing smart hockey to hold the one goal lead. With two and a half minutes remaining, Demko headed to the bench for the extra skater. Gus Nyquist was able to chip a puck outside of the zone, and Max Domi took over and out-hustled Elias Pettersson to tap in the empty net goal for the clincher.
4-2 Jackets (Domi from Nyquist)
The Jackets have a quick turnaround and will now hit the road and head to St. Louis for a Saturday night game with the Blues.