The Blue Jackets picked up their first “loser point” of the year tonight, losing in the shootout to the Anaheim Ducks, 2-1. It was a structurally sound game in which the Blue Jackets played stout defensively and kept the high-flying Ducks offense in check. Unfortunately their own offense was kept quiet as well. It was a game in which the Blue Jackets were the better team for the majority of it, but in the end it was their lack of high-end skill that cost them the victory.
Let’s take a look at how it happened.
It was a choppy start in this one with a lot of icings and offsides, not allowing much flow in the opening minutes. Neither team was willing to give up much, clogging lanes and creating turnovers.
The Blue Jackets first scoring opportunity presented itself at the four minute mark when Oliver BJORKSTRAND found a loose puck in front of Ducks’ goalie John Gibson. The puck must have surprised the Maestro because he quickly put the puck into Gibson’s gut rather than pick his spot.
The Jackets started to use their speed with long stretch passes, almost connecting for a goal when Max Domi sauced a beautiful pass across the offensive zone to Jack Roslovic. Roslovic took the pass and shot it in stride, but Gibson slid across the crease to make the save.
The Jackets kept up the pressure and were rewarded when Eric Robinson found Alexandre Texier on the weakside, who put the puck behind Gibson.
TIS THE CELLY SZN pic.twitter.com/r5NWW0MrhX— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 10, 2021
1-0 CBJ (Texier from Robinson and Kuraly)
The lead wouldn’t last unfortunately as Isac Lundestrom picked up a loose puck in his defensive zone and was immediately behind the defense and off to the races on the breakaway. Cole Sillinger did his best to get back and break up the play, but Elvis was unable to make the stop and the puck found the back of the net via his five hole.
1-1 Lundestrom (unassisted)
The game really began to open up with both teams playing fast and creating chances in transition. The Jackets’ fourth line created a few more opportunities with their speed and tenacity. They were the best line of the night.
With three and a half minutes to go, Andrew Peeke was called for holding, giving the league’s #5 ranked power play a chance to take the lead. The PK held the Ducks off the board and without a shot. The Ducks maintained possession for most of the remainder of the period, but were unable to convert.
The opening twenty minutes was a pretty evenly played period, with the Jackets holding a slight advantage in shots (13-11) and a Corsi of 52.9%.
It looked as if the Blue Jackets scored early when Zach Werenski beat Gibson low blocker, but as is CBJ tradition, it was called back due to the play being offside. I’m convinced the Jackets are trying for the all-time record for negated goals.
The Blue Jackets controlled the pace of play for the first seven minutes of the period, only allowing one shot. Elvis had to be sharp when his number was called on Anaheim’s next shot, stopping a one-timer with a big pad save.
The Blue Jackets got their first opportunity on the power play about halfway through the period when Josh Manson hauled down Boone Jenner as he entered the offensive zone. The two shots the Jackets put on net were not of the high-danger variety and were easily stopped by Gibson.
The bulk of the second was a blur (as was most of the game) with a lot of neutral zone play and back and forth hockey without too many strong chances on either end.
The Jackets got another chance on the power play as the period wound down. As he circled the offensive zone, Jake Voracek took a stick to the face from Kevin Shattenkirk after he collided with a teammate. The man advantage was mostly squandered, until Zach Werenski was robbed by the pad of Gibson as he tried to tap one in while standing on the backdoor. It was the best save of the night from Gibson, and kept his team tied.
The Jackets outshot the Ducks in the second 11-6 and improved their Corsi to 55.5% but couldn’t break through. After the period, the Jackets announced Adam Boqvist would not return the game after sustaining an upper body injury.
The period opened up with end-to-end action, very few whistles and no goals. Structurally, it was one of the Blue Jackets better performances this year. There were far fewer defensive lapses and odd-man rushes allowed.
The Jackets best chance of the period came from a scramble in front. With five minutes left in the game the Blue Jackets had 33 shots, but very few stood out as great chances.
Troy Terry dominated a shift late in the period and nearly danced around the entire Jackets’ defense, but Elvis was there to make a strong glove save.
The third flew by without too much of note happening. Elvis Merzlikins and John Gibson were both at the top of their game in this one, and single-handedly earned a point for their team.
The Ducks controlled the puck for the first two minutes of overtime without really attacking. The Blue Jackets finally were able to get possession of the puck and Zach Werenski nearly snuck one past Gibson on the backhand but he was able to squeeze the puck under his arm.
The Ducks had their best opportunity when Oliver Bjorkstrand lost the puck at the top of the zone leading to an odd-man rush, but Elvis made a very aggressive poke-check save to keep the puck out of the net.
Five minutes of 3-on-3 didn’t provide a winner, so it was on to the skills competition.
Oliver BJORKSTRAND - Denied
Troy Terry - Crossbar
Alexandre Texier - Missed the net
Trevor Zegras - Scores
Jake Voracek - Scores
Rickard Rakell - Scores
Ducks win 2-1
The Blue Jackets head back out on the road to begin a five game road trip. They will make their inaugural appearance at Climate Pledge Arena on Saturday night when they take on the Seattle Kraken at 10pm ET.