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Game #18 Recap: Elvis’s first shutout of the season

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The defense showed up and showed out tonight.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Nashville Predators Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Yeah, so, the Blue Jackets looked pretty dang good tonight!

There was some nervousness that Elvis Merzlikins, after over two weeks without starting, would not be able to hit the ground running - but he went ahead and proved everyone wrong. He had 32 saves on 32 shots, and looked sharp and confident throughout the game.

The first period was slow until there were only 16.8 seconds left, when Cam Atkinson scored his seventh goal of the season. The guy’s hot! I might need someone fluent in physics to explain to me exactly how that goal went in, but I’m also not in the business of looking a gift goal in the mouth. Despite a lot of decent chances by Nashville and great saves by Elvis, the first period ended 1-0 in favor of the Jackets.

Second period was clipping right along, and then Max Domi got a one-off shot from the right flank and got it past Juuse Saros. There was a strange moment of review in which it was unsure whether the shot deflected against the thigh of a linesman, but after further review the goal stood. 2-0 Jackets at the end of the second! Love this for us. I don’t care how weird or inexplicable the goals are, I will take all of them happily.

Third period was relatively uneventful - in large part due to Seth Jones being back to his powerhouse defensive self. He looked great! He’s been quietly acquiring assists over the last few games and starting to really look like himself again in assisting Elvis maintain a shutout. Obviously the goals won this game, but the defense solidified it.

Eric Robinson nailed an empty-netter towards the end of third period, after which Nashville put Saros back in. After Robinson’s shot, Nashville had 31 shots to Columbus’ 21 shots. It feels like the tables have finally turned - the Jackets are defending shots on net while finishing their own shots.

Feels really good to be happy and content with a CBJ win, right? I’m going to bed happy. It almost makes me forget about the previous game’s 7-3 loss. That sucked, but I’m glad to see the players and coaches apparently learned from and applied that experience to their next game, and they have the results to show for it.

The Blue Jackets play the Nashville Predators again on Saturday, February 20 at 7 p.m. at Nationwide Arena.