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Torts pushed the right buttons in the win

Dallas Stars v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

The Columbus Blue Jackets welcomed the Dallas Stars to Nationwide Arena looking to get back in the win column. This game was a bit of an odd one. Lead changes, goals in quick succession of each other, long periods of inactivity, successful line blending, big changes in overtime, and - best of all - a Jackets goal in the extra period. Zach Werenski scored the OT winner and Max Domi (1-1-2) and Jack Roslovic (0-3-3) has notable nights on offense. Here are some of the details and a few of my musings.

First Period

The Torts Trust Line (TTL) started the game off tonight. TTL? You know. Nick Foligno - Boone Jenner - Cam Atkinson. Additionally, Vladislav Gavrikov is back on the ice after supporting his wife and welcoming his daughter, Miroslava, into the world.

An interesting note - The Laine Line (Oliver Bjorkstrand - Riley Nash - Patrik Laine) got their 2nd shift before the TTL comes back. Something seemed a little different tonight.

The first half of the first period was dull. A combined 3 SOG in the first five minutes of the period, though there was a lot of back and forth skating. The Laine Line seemed to be on the ice a lot. But that wasn’t the line that drew first blood! With just over 9 minutes gone in the period, Jack Roslovic got the puck to Max Domi who followed his own blocked shot and got the second attempt past a now-out of position Jake Oettinger.

The Jackets maintained a high energy level for awhile after the goal, but the sugar rush seemed to die off a bit late in the period. Dallas strung together a couple of shifts in or near the CBJ zone, which ended with Andrew Cogliano gaining a clear lane to shoot a wrister past Elvis Merzlikins. Some considered it soft. I just thought it was a regular goal.

A minute after that, Elvis made a glove save, but gave up a juicy rebound. Luckily, the 5-hole shot that got through him bounced off the post and right back to his pads.

The period ended 1-1. Dallas had 10 SOG and the Jackets notched 7.

Second Period

The period started far more disjointedly for the Jackets than the first with plenty of turnovers and Dallas chances. The TTL got a third shift before the Laine Line got their second shift.

I had no notes for the next 7 minutes of hockey. Nothing was happening... until Dallas scored another goal. A bouncing puck landed, rather fortuitously, in front of Andrej Sekera who took a stride and a slapshot that seemed to glance just slightly off Kevin Stenlund and past a screened Elvis Merzlikins. Dallas led 2-1.

By the way, Columbus did not get their first SOG of the period until just over 12 minutes had gone by. With this offensive drought in full gear, Torts turned on his line blender. Can’t say it wasn’t deserved — he allowed the lines to stay together for half the game. Here were the new lines (which stuck for most of the rest of the game):

13 - 96 - 16

52 - 38 - 50

71 - 11 - 42

These moves paid off handsomely for the Jackets. With 4 minutes left in the game, Dallas won a faceoff but Roslovic disrupted their possession and got the puck to Max Domi. Domi centered the puck to a waiting Cam Atkinson who wired one past Oettinger.

A minute after that, we saw a Festivus miracle. Dallas cleared the puck to center ice where Zach Werenski collected the puck and passed it to Nick Foligno. Here’s the miracle — Nick Foligno approaches the Dallas zone, saw the Dallas defender lose his edge, and...carried the puck into the zone. Not just that... he also let loose a nasty wrister that found the back of the net. Columbus led 3-2.

The period ended with Dallas sitting on 21 SOG and Columbus with 12.

Third Period

The blended lines stuck around for the third period but there wasn’t a lot of action to report. Unfortunately, about 5 minutes into the period, Denis Gurianov found himself 4 feet in front of the net with no Jackets near him — Michael Del Zotto was covering the Invisible Man near the dot. Roslovic and Domi couldn’t get to Gurianov in time, but Jason Dickinson’s centering pass did and the game was tied.

The Jackets turned up the juice in the last few minutes but it was Dallas with the best chance at the end of the third. Elvis was up to the task.

Overtime

The OT started with Jenner taking the faceoff, Seth Jones on defense, and...wha...who..Patrik Laine?! Jenner came off and Cam Atkinson came on. So yes, a change to the overtime strategy. The play wasn’t particularly great for most of the OT, but we did get to see all three OT lines.

Laine - Atkinson - Jones

Bjorkstrand - Roslovic - Werenski

Domi - Foligno - Gavrikov

The names on the lines were fine by me. Their play was a bit tentative and, at times, the Jackets were a bit too casual with the puck. With a few seconds left in the OT, Oliver Bjorkstrand decided he’d had enough of that tentative crap, carried the puck into the zone, made Oettinger make two big time saves — with a final juicy rebound that Werenski was able to knock past a sprawling Jason Robertson for the game winning goal.

Columbus wins in OT - 4-3

Final Thoughts

  • Laine gets grief for his defense, but I noted several times where he did a good job covering for a rushing defenseman. Maybe that’s what earned him OT time
  • This was Max Domi’s best game in a CBJ sweater. He made plays, he tried to make useful plays, and he kept the pestmanship to a minimum
  • Oliver Bjorkstrand is the best forward on this team
  • Dean Kukan is the #4 defenseman on this team
  • Tomorrow, we all get to do this again. Hopefully with the same result - in regulation.