Coming off of an overtime win over Seattle Saturday night, the Blue Jackets hopped north of the border to play the Vancouver Canucks. Let’s see how it played out!
This morning, the Canucks cancelled their morning skate prior to tonight’s contest. News soon emerged that Vancouver players Luke Schenn and Juho Lammikko tested positive for COVID. This follows the NHL shutting down the Calgary Flames on Monday and precedes the shutdown of the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. The last game for the Canucks was against the Carolina Hurricanes. The League is now up to 30 players in COVID protocol, including nine added since Monday morning and several coming through the pipeline. In addition, Canucks forward Tucker Poolman, Oilers coach Dave Tippett, and Flyers forward Morgan Frost were both pulled either during or shortly before their games tonight.
Personally, I do not understand how the NHL is still playing right now. Four teams have been shut down this season and at least nine games so far have been postponed. With a two-week break already built into the schedule, it seems hard to justify playing hockey during an outbreak. Yes, well over 90% of the players are vaccinated, but there’s still enough spread to be enough of a danger to make it tough. Call off the games between now and Christmas, reschedule to fill the Olympic break, and then reformat the All Star Game to a six-team national 3-on-3 tournament. Seems like a smart idea.
Enough rambling, let’s get into it!
The Blue Jackets started hot, with the Bjorkstrand line creating some opportunities early. Not long after, Zach Werenski sprung Texier and Robinson on a 2-on-1, and the frenchman fought through a trip to dish the puck to Robinson for a beautiful goal.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL - Eric Robinson from Alexandre Texier and Zach Werenski (4:25 1st) - 1-0 Columbus
Shortly after there was a funny sequence of stresses on both teams, as goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Elvis Merzlikins would take turns venturing out to play the puck, only to nearly turn those ventures into golden opportunities for their opposition. The period would feature lots of stretch passes and rushes throughout, with one of those resulting in a CBJ goal! Texier would Gretzky curl the puck back to Gabriel Carlsson, who’s shot was tipped by Roslovic and squeaked passed Halak for Max Domi to tap over the goal line.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL - Max Domi from Jack Roslovic and Gabriel Carlsson (11:37 1st) - 2-1 Columbus
The Jackets would continue to suck the energy out of the Canucks, trading attacks but getting consistent zone time. They’d be rewarded by a third goal, with Eric Robinson winning a race for the puck and beating Halak five-hole.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL - Eric Robinson from Alexandre Texier and Gavin Bayreuther (16:18 1st) - 3-1 Columbus
The period would end with the Jackets up 3-0, but the Canucks had a dangerous shift in the CBJ end covering the last 40 seconds or so. Hopefully that’s not foreshadowing or anything.
The Canucks dominated this period thoroughly, earning 18 shots on goal to the CBJ’s five. However, Vladislav Gavrikov would successfully get on the nerves of Connor Garland, ending in the latter dropping the gloves while the former just kinda... stood there. And apparently it was enough for a penalty. During the ensuing 4-on-4, Bo Horvat would put a beautiful snipe past Merzlikins to cut the deficit to a pair.
CANUCKS 4-ON-4 GOAL - Bo Horvat from Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser (7:41 2nd) - 3-1 Columbus
The Canucks continued to pile on the pressure, earning plenty of chances. Elvis stood tall, making several key saves, but the Canucks also had their fair share of whiffs. Things started to level out in the last six minutes or so, but the Jackets were on their heels and lucky to escape the period with a lead, let alone up 3-1. They need to be better in the third to get anything out of this game.
The Canucks continued to pressure early and often throughout the period, getting chances every other shift. Horvat had an incredibly skilled play to bat the puck out of the air backhanded, but it went off the crossbar. Soon after, Elias Pettersson would cut the deficit to one.
CANUCKS GOAL - Elias Pettersson from Connor Garland and Tyler Myers (4:07 3rd) - 3-2 Columbus
Continuing the pressure (I’m getting very tired of that phrase), Tyler Motte would have a mini-breakaway stopped by Elvis seven minutes in. Less than three later, we had a tied game as Voracek got caught puckwatching.
CANUCKS GOAL - Vasily Podkolzin from Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers (9:35 3rd) - 3-3 Tie
Over two minutes later, with 11:47 gone in the period, the Blue Jackets would get their first shot on goal. The Canucks would end up winning the shot battle 39-23, including a 31-11 advantage over the last 40 minutes.
Vancouver would go on the power play thanks to a Gavrikov hook with 6:42 left. They’d have their chances, but it was killed off. The Jackets then finally gave their best push of the last two periods, but it was all for naught as Andrew Peeke was caught tripping with 1:12 left and Bo Horvat made us pay.
CANUCKS POWER PLAY GOAL - Bo Horvat from JT Miller and Quinn Hughes (19:01.7 3rd) - 4-3 Vancouver
Despite an empty net and 35 second power play, the Jackets were unable to equalize, losing 4-3 in regulation. Next game is Thursday at Edmonton, assuming it happens.