After a rough four game losing streak — all on the road — the Columbus Blue Jackets returned to Nationwide Arena, where they held an 8-3 record for the year. They were on the second leg of a back-to-back, but could they beat the visiting San Jose Sharks?
In an attempt to change things up, Brad Larsen shuffled the lineup. Returning to the lineup were Jack Roslovic and Gabriel Carlsson, in place of Yegor Chinakhov and Gavin Bayreuther, respectively. I was skeptical of the scratches, since this was a team in desperate need of scoring help. Chinakhov has a great shot, and Carlsson is no offensive threat.
I’m glad to report that I was wrong.
After a solid set of first shifts by the Jackets, the first period was dominated by the Sharks, at one point having an 11-3 shot advantage. The Jackets were lucky to strike first, thanks to this laser of a shot from the red-hot Adam Boqvist:
SHOT OUT OF A CANNON pic.twitter.com/LmPmlNZe00— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 5, 2021
Just when it seemed like they could hold that lead into the intermission, they got burned for sloppy and lackadaisical play in the defensive zone. In the waning seconds of the period, as they were trying to run off the clock, Zach Werenski coughed up the puck and Nick Bonino capitalized:
The Jackets are way too prone to defensive zone breakdowns, turnovers, and late period goals. This combined all of that in one play.
The Sharks kept up the momentum at the start of the second, with a goal on the first shift, courtesy of Erik Karlsson (no relation to Gabriel Carlsson, as Jeff Rimer kept repeating).
Just 32 seconds later, the Jackets responded with a breakaway goal from Sean Kuraly. He entered the zone with speed, then slammed on the breaks in the right circle. He made what looked to be a pass to Eric Robinson on the back door, but the puck deflected off of a defenseman and went through Adin Hill’s five hole.
Past the midpoint of the period, the other Norris-winning defenseman for San Jose scored a long range goal of his own:
Late in the period, the Jackets tied it up thanks to a play from Cole Sillinger that displayed both hustle and skill. He blocked a shot in the defensive zone, then recovered the puck himself and skated it down the ice. He faked the pass to Justin Danforth, but shot it himself.
A push late in the period helped make the shot counter look closer, but it was still a gap of 29-18 in favor of San Jose. It was a miracle the Jackets were tied through two periods. It would take a much better effort to come away with a win.
The period got off to a good start when Max Domi chipped the puck ahead to Roslovic in the neutral zone. He sped past the Sharks defense and made a nifty move in front of the net to give the Jackets their second lead of the night.
YOU DON'T KNOW JACK pic.twitter.com/9vuhmjZccV— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 6, 2021
With this goal, all three Columbus-born players on the roster (Kuraly, Sillinger, Roslovic) scored a goal. That’s pretty damn cool.
The Jackets weren’t done. The next goal was a play that was both started and finished by Boqvist. He forced a turnover in the defensive zone and started a breakout. Nifty passes from Jakub Voracek and the aforementioned Carlsson set up Boqvist’s second goal of the night:
Big Time Boqy™️ pic.twitter.com/r2E894Je39— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 6, 2021
That’s Boqvist’s fifth goal in the last six games, and second two-goal game in the last five games. He has twice as many goals this season as Seth Jones, just sayin’.
This game was far from over, with the Sharks cutting the lead to one behind a good shot by Tomas Hertl (and again the defense getting pushed around in their own zone):
It appeared that Gus Nyquist had earned the insurance goal, but it was challenged by the Sharks and rightfully overturned for being offside. This was the third time in the last four games that the Jackets had a goal overturned for offside. Not fun!
The Sharks pulled Hill with two minutes left and I had to hold my breath for a full minute before the Jackets finally got their empty netter. Nyquist could have shot it to make up for his overturned goal, but instead opted to pass it to Alexandre Texier for the goal instead. That’s Tex’s third ENG of the season, which ties him for the league lead with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Gabriel Landeskog, Josh Anderson, Anthony Duclair, Connor McDavid, and Andrei Svechnikov. Yeah, when I think of those guys I definitely think of Texier. Good for him, though!
The Jackets moved up to within a point of Pittsburgh for the second wild card spot, with a game in hand. On Tuesday, they hit the road again to play the Toronto Maple Leafs.