Although the Columbus Blue Jackets dropped their game against the Penguins on Friday, they still played a solid game. They certainly wanted to build on the positives with the Ottawa Senators coming to town. The Senators may be behind the Jackets in the standings, but the 4-4-2 record in their last 10 games bests the Jackets’. Gavrikov and Sillinger returned to the lineup off the COVID protocol list and that would give Columbus one of their best lineups in recent memory.
The Senators struck first when a shot from the blue line got through traffic and deflected into the net. Tyler Ennis was pretty much on top of Elvis when Zub took the shot and the effective screen left the Columbus goalie with little chance to make the save. This has been a reoccurring issue this season — the defensemen need to do a better job at keeping the area in front of their goalie clear.
OTT Goal 1-0: Zub (Gaudette, Ennis) 7:59
The home team had a two power plays early in the game, but ended up with nothing to show for it. They did manage four scoring chances, but former Jackets’ prospect Anton Forsberg stood tall.
The stats may not have reflected it, but it certainly seemed like the Jackets had the puck for most of the period. Luckily for them, the period would not end at 1-1. With 36 seconds left, a crafty Voracek found Kuraly, who was able to deflect a perfect pass into the net. Kuraly was all over the ice in the first period and got rewarded with his sixth goal of the season.
CBJ Goal 1-1: Kuraly (Voracek, Werenski) 19:24
NHL Video Highlight - Jakub Voracek uses his excellent passing to find Sean Kuraly in close for a redirected goal in the 1st. pic.twitter.com/4cNFLLUPt7— Blue Jackets Game Bot (@CBJGameBot) January 23, 2022
Noteworthy: Cole Sillinger looked like a man on a mission in his first period back. He rang a shot of the post and made an impact on both sides of the ice.
Elvis was forced to stand strong to begin the second. He saw and stopped nine shots in the first six minutes, but looked comfortable doing so.
The Jackets’ penalty kill was able to kill off two Ottawa penalties in the first half of the second. Both kills were impressive as the Senators never saw a dangerous chance on either power play. This was great to see given the penalty kill struggles this team has had of late.
The Senators managed to retake the lead late in the period. Robinson was interfered with while chasing a puck in the Ottawa zone. The refs chose to swallow their whistles while a stretch pass found Tim Stützle, who was able to roof a backhand past Elvis.
OTT Goal 2-1: Stützle (Formenton) 16:02
Another Senator power play would get killed off to close out the period.
Through two periods, this game was a bit of a strange one. The Jackets led in shot attempts, scoring chances, and expected goals. However, the Senators held a 2-1 lead. It wasn’t on goaltending either. Ottawa’s first goal was because of a goalie screen and deflection and the second goal was a nice breakaway shot. Other than that, Elvis was playing well. Hockey can be a weird sport.
Noteworthy: Voracek was the best player in the game up until this point (and for the rest of the game, really). He had the primary assist on Kuraly’s goal and nearly scored one of his own in the second period. His 5v5 shot attempt % was 77 and the Jackets had 7 shots with him on the ice versus Ottawa’s 3.
The first half of the third was largely uneventful. The Jackets managed a few good chances, but a couple bad turnovers by Jenner and Roslovic led to chances the other way. Both Merzlikins and Forsberg remained strong.
Roslovic, in particular, continues to struggle. He’s noticeably strong carrying the puck into the zone, but then promptly manages to turn it over via a bad pass or poorly timed deke. He also likes to shoot bad angle shots right into the chest of the opposing goalie. Domi has disappeared since being on the same line as Roslovic and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Jack could be seen taking his frustration out on his stick late in the game.
The Jackets pushed hard late, but Forsberg was up to the task. Two points awarded to Ottawa.
Laine - Jenner - Voracek
This isn’t entirely fair. Voracek was a monster all game and held this line up all by himself. Laine and Jenner didn’t do much to impress.
Texier - Sillinger - Chinakhov
Chinakhov was pretty invisible tonight, which didn’t do Texier and Sillinger any favors. This line lost almost every advanced stat battle on the evening.
This wasn’t a bad game by the Jackets, although they would have preferred to get a few more quality chances on net. Credit to Anton Forsberg for playing a very good game. Elvis was equally as good, but was the victim of good finishing by his opponent.
Laine failed to produce any shots at 5v5. That’s not what you want from a guy like him. He didn’t look very engaged tonight.
Larsen stuck with his lines despite several individuals not showing much throughout the night. A Texier - Sillinger - Voracek line would have been interesting down the stretch.
The Calgary Flames come to town on Wednesday for a 7:00 PM faceoff.