Following an improbable two game sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes, their first such sweep of the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets retuned home on Monday night to continue their four game set at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets, following their recent hot streak, had played their way into a playoff position, leapfrogging the Chicago Blackhawks via regulation wins.
The Jackets announced on Sunday that forward Alexandre Texier was activated from the illness list. He, along with forward Mikael Grigorenko, were assigned to the taxi squad. Here’s Torts on why:
Torts says Alex Texier has to wait his turn to get back in again. Said he wasn’t playing well and MacInnis/Matteau have played well and will stay in. #CBJ— Mark Scheig (@markscheig) March 22, 2021
Just hours before game time, the team announced that it had recalled Grigorenko, but it appeared that it wasn’t for any serious reason:
Sounds like the Grigorenko recall was likely for precautionary reasons.#CBJ— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) March 22, 2021
The Blue Jackets named Joonas Korpisalo the starter, with no further lineup changes.
Here’s what happened.
After a few early icings, Oliver Bjorkstrand had the first chance of the evening - during a goal mouth scramble with the goaltender out of position, he put his effort just wide of the net. With 16:05 remaining, David Savard was sent to the box for tripping, giving the league’s number one power play an early chance to build a lead. Saturday night the team was able to kill an early penalty, but this time the team shot the selves in the foot even further. Nick Foligno took an awful boarding penalty with 22 seconds remaining as he sent Brett Pesce face first into the boards. Foligno was high with his cross check and didn’t need to make the dangerous hit. Columbus killed the 22 seconds of 5 on 3 play. Columbus further killed the final seconds of the Foligno penalty - a stout showing from the penalty kill after being put in a tough spot early.
With 10:47 remaining in the first, the Carolina Hurricanes’ first period pressure paid off. After a rush that saw Bjorkstrand hit the post, Carolina cycled the puck out from the corner and Korpisalo kicked a giant rebound out to a waiting Brett Pesce who calmly passed it past the CBJ netminder, since that’s all the harder he had to work.
Carolina goal (0-1): Pesce from Aho and Fast, 9:13
Seeking a quick response, the Columbus Blue Jackets did not deliver - through the first 12 minutes of the game, the team managed just two shots on net. David Savard managed a backhand shot on the Carolina netminder, but it was easily turned aside.
The teams traded chances through the rest of the period, but neither could find the second goal of the night. Carolina led on the scoreboard 1-0 after 20 minutes, and led in shots 11-5. Bad period from Columbus - they came out flat and didn’t play well.
After trading possession to open the period, Columbus earned the first power play of the second period as Jordan Martinook went to the box for high sticking Oliver Bjorkstrand at the 3:30 mark. Naturally, this terrible power play did nothing with it.
Carolina continued their strong possession metrics and took advantage of all of their time and shots again early in the second period. A strong forecheck led to a shot high from Brett Pesce that was deflected in front and past Korpisalo for a two goal deficit. Columbus, again, spent too much time watching and reacting to the puck.
It turns out Jesper Fast deflected the puck, his second point of the night as he got credit for the goal.
Carolina goal (0-2): Fast from Pesce and Staal, 6:39
It only took a few minutes for Carolina to extend their lead. A strong Columbus shift that saw several chances turned aside was all for naught. A Carolina rush up the ice, led by Dougie Hamilton, drew the defense aside. Sebastian Aho found a trailing Matt Necas for his 6th of the year.
Carolina goal (0-3): Necas from Aho and Hamilton, 8:58
The second period continued on with little fanfare until there were 3:32 remaining, when Jordan Martinook was sent to the box for interference. Columbus naturally did nothing with it. For good measure, they allowed a 2 on 0 breakaway to Martinook and Foegele, but the puck rolled off Foegele’s stick. The period ended with Carolina leading 3-0 on the scoreboard and 23-11 in shots.
Riley Nash had a breakaway in the third period! He didn’t score, but that is in fact a thing that happened. Max Domi hit the goalpost with 5 minutes gone - he had moved up in the lineup, centering Laine and Atkinson in the third period. Good usage for Domi.
Eric Robinson saw a great shot denied with 11:37 remaining. Nothing going right for Columbus.
The third period featured Columbus trying to generate a goal, but honestly? They didn’t threaten the Canes. Columbus even had a power play late but Carolina kept everything to the outside and controlled play while not allowing any dangerous chances. Columbus didn’t even threaten Carolina. It’s not that they didn’t deserve a win, they barely deserve a paycheck for that appearance on the ice since it’s not clear they actually showed up.
Boo birds late. Deserved. Were I in the arena, I’d have booed them too.
Carolina Hurricanes 3 Columbus Blue Jackets 0
The first forty minutes were bad Columbus. Just bad. Failure to manage the puck, failure to play consistent defense, failure by the goaltender to control rebounds, failure to maintain puck possession - just, not good enough. This team entered the night in a playoff spot, but tonight they did not look like a playoff team. They looked very much the part of wayward club with no heart or energy.
Don’t let that two game win streak fool you - sell at the deadline. At best this season, the Jackets are sacrificial lambs to the Central winner. Sell and reload. Don’t hang on to pieces for a playoff run that won’t materialize. Please, Jarmo, I beg you.
This team is no fun to watch. None. Not one thing about this game was fun. Less than one shot every three minutes? Ew.
The Blue Jackets wrap up their four game set with the Hurricanes on Thursday evening at Nationwide Arena. Faceoff is currently scheduled for 7:00 EST.