As the NHL season comes to a close, the 2021 Columbus Blue Jackets decided to play their hits: score first, then blow the lead in the second period. The result? A 5-2 defeat at the hands of the visiting Detroit Red Wings, which drops the Jackets back to last place in the Central Division.
The game started well enough, with some unexpected heroes stepping up. First was defenseman Gavin Bayreuther with his first goal as a Jacket. He was set up by the surprisingly effective Foudy/Stenlund/Laine line, with Patrik Laine keeping the puck in the zone, protecting it, and getting it safely to Liam Foudy. A quick pass from Foudy set up Bayreuther for the long range shot from the blue line.
BAYREUTHER— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) May 7, 2021
Matiss Kivlenieks got the start in net for his first NHL action of the season, and he was solid through the back-and-forth first thirty minutes.
In the second period, another Jacket scored his first goal of the season. A nifty pass by Eric Robinson found Nathan Gerbe slipping through a couple of Red Wings and he was off to the races. He showed some fancy stickwork with a puck drag and backhanded shot past Thomas Greiss.
That lead seemed pretty safe, right? WRONG. The Jackets got sloppy, and the Red Wings made them pay. First came a Joe Veleno power play goal (the first goal of his career) following an Andrew Peeke cross-checking penalty.
Less than a minute later, Michael Del Zotto got caught tripping, and Detroit scored on the delayed penalty. This goal came from Danny DeKeyser, who shot after receiving a rebound off the back wall.
That quick blown lead had the Jackets back on their heels. A failed attempt to exit the zone resulted in a golden opportunity for Detroit, with a series of quick passes creating the game-winning goal from Jakub Vrana.
I wanted to wait and post all three clips in a row so I could show you what they have in common: in each case the shot was preceded by a pass from the other side of the ice. Kivlenieks is forced to move and to adjust his focus. It greatly increases the chances of scoring, and it’s something the Blue Jackets don’t do often enough when they’re on offense.
Joe Veleno's first NHL goal.— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) May 8, 2021
And it's a beauty. pic.twitter.com/89vOUAQjRN
The response from Columbus was tepid at best. In the third period they produced just 11 shot attempts. Only five were on net.
Vladislav Namestnikov sealed the victory with two empty net goals. Laine was stuck defending the first one and I have to ask...why? I do think he’s trying here, but he’s just not comfortable with that part of the game. Why does he keep ending up in these situations where he’s not set up to succeed?
With that loss, the Blue Jackets now have clinched their first season without a winning streak of at least three games. (They won consecutive games just four times).
These two teams complete their seasons on Saturday night in Nationwide Arena. Can the Blue Jackets rebound and end a disappointing season on a high note?
Torts announced in his postgame press conference that Kivlenieks would get the start tomorrow as well.