At times tonight it looked like the Columbus Blue Jackets should beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-0. At other times, it looked like it should be a Hurricanes rout. So of course it went to overtime tied at just two goals apiece. In the end, massive efforts by Seth Jones and Joonas Korpisalo were enough to earn an important two points for Columbus as they look to stay in the Central Division playoff race.
The Jackets roster looked a lot different tonight than on Sunday. Alexandre Texier is out with an illness, and Emil Bemstrom out with a lower body injury. In their place came Ryan MacInnis and Steffan Matteau. Matteau had played one game this season, while MacInnis had not played in over a year.
The game started exactly as Torts and Co. must have drawn it up. It was a very physical game, with the Jackets throwing 32 hits, and the Hurricanes 24. The Jackets collected the first seven shots on goal, keeping the pressure on Carolina backup Alex Nedeljkovic (shoutout to Parma, Ohio!). Even during an early Carolina power play, the Jackets got two shots on goal while allowing none.
The Canes began to battle back in the back half of the period, but the Jackets drew first blood — as has been their habit all season. Zach Werenski was in the right place at the right time to strip a loose puck from Dougie Hamilton. Seth Jones collected the loose puck and was off to the races on a rush with Oliver BJORKSTRAND and Patrik Laine. Jones fed BJORKSTRAND for the shot, as Jones and Laine crashed the net. Jones was in perfect position to score off the rebound.
It hasn’t been a great season for Jones, but he’s been playing better lately and he was on top of his game tonight. Props as well to Werenski, who is on a five game point streak.
If you’ve followed the Blue Jackets this season, you may have been surprised by how well they played in the first period. But you would not be surprised by how they would follow that up in the second period. It was Carolina’s turn to dominate possession, as the ice tilted back their way. The Jackets did not get a shot on goal until 12:25 into the period. THAT’S NOT GOOD.
Sebastian Aho scored twice, because when you let a team control possession, their best player will eventually make you pay.
Necas and Aho teaming up for a goal?— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) March 19, 2021
Our power play gets all the attention for being bad, but we need to pay attention to the struggles of the penalty kill as well. In this case, the structure looked really disjointed and lazy. This hasn’t been a problem since way back when Jack Johnson was part of the PK unit three years ago.
After that goal, however, the Jackets woke up and tilted the ice back in their favor for the next five minutes. They finally drew a penalty after taking three of their own, and while the PP was not successful, the shift by the second unit continued and got their chance. Max Domi made a beautiful pass across the royal road right to the stick of Kevin Stenlund. Why don’t they do this stuff more consistently when they’ve got the man advantage? The world may never know...
Put some sauce on it pic.twitter.com/dzwBrySJVD— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 19, 2021
Stenlund was supposed to be a healthy scratch tonight, to make room for Mikhail Grigorenko. This was always a bad idea, since Stenlund has continued to be a solid performer, even if it wasn’t showing up on the scoresheet. Nothing against Grigorenko, but Stenlund has earned this spot in the lineup and he proved it tonight.
Despite the wild swings, the teams were tied on the scoreboard and tied in 5v5 shot share heading into the second intermission.
Torts actually responded to the first 40 minutes by rewarding certain players with more ice time! Wow! Stenlund was promoted to the first line with Nick Foligno and Patrik Laine. BJORKSTRAND was rewarded for his two assists by getting paired with...Riley Nash and Boone Jenner? Oh. Well, nevertheless...
The third period was relatively uneventful, with both teams seemingly content to play for overtime. The Jackets dominated shot share for the first half of the period, with Carolina going on a run late.
Timeout to praise Korpisalo
Korpi was on his game tonight, making saves on a total of 15 high danger shot attempts.
Joonas Korpisalo's had about three of these WOW moment saves this season... pic.twitter.com/ycVmaJDgmm— NHL (@NHL) March 19, 2021
It continued in OT:
It was a back and forth affair, but Carolina got better chances. Korpi was huge. Then, as they entered the final minute, Jones got the puck and again was off to the races. This time he held on to the puck and made a great shot to win the game:
These two teams meet again on Saturday night for the second of four straight meetings.
Both Chicago and Dallas lost in regulation tonight, so the Jackets are just two points behind the Blackhawks for fourth place, and stay ahead of the Stars by points percentage (.500 to .481).