Coming into this game, the Columbus Blue Jackets had lost three straight, including a 3-1 loss against the New Jersey Devils just two nights prior. The boys in blue were looking to improve in two specific areas: the power play and the penalty kill. Over those three losses the Jackets were 60% on the penalty kill and 0% on the power play. Special teams needed to turn around if the Jackets were to return to winning.
Jakub Voracek was honored for his 1,000th game before puck drop. He reached this milestone in the previous game. It was a great tribute to a player that is deeply loved in Columbus and Philadelphia.
One fantastic tribute for one fantastic player— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 9, 2022
From all of us, congratulations Jake! pic.twitter.com/RsEfrTGm2Z
The Jackets went to the power play early when Voracek drew a holding penalty. For the first time since December 3rd, the entire first unit was healthy and on the ice. They were able to deliver too. Laine sent the puck across the ice to Voracek who then quickly found Bjorkstrand for a one-timer in the slot.
CBJ PP Goal 1-0: Bjorkstrand (Voracek, Laine) 2:01
The strong start continued when Jack Hughes scored an own goal off a Boone Jenner pass. That gave the captain his 13th of the season. For a team that’s been struggling, a lucky bounce is more than welcome.
CBJ Goal 2-0: Jenner (Nyquist, Boqvist) 4:03
We'll take it ♂️ pic.twitter.com/3PLRKOoQ9B— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 9, 2022
The Devils got their first power play chance immediately following their own goal, but the Jackets were able to stand strong this time and keep the game at 2-0.
The Devils cut the lead in half later in the period. After an offensive zone win, Hischier was able to rip one through traffic and past Korpisalo. The Blue Jacket goalie was completely screened on the shot and didn’t stand much of a chance.
NJD Goal 2-1: Hischier (Severson, Vesey) 14:41
Unfortunately, the scoring wouldn’t stop there. With twenty seconds left in the period, the Devils struck again. Off the rush, Bemstrom made a great individual effort on the backcheck to knock down a cross ice pass. His clearing attempt ended up on the stick of a Devil and an unmarked Vesey skated down low, received the pass, and tied the game. The Blue Jackets have a terrible habit of leaving opposing players open in these situations. The initial chance was thwarted, but the lack of defensive cohesiveness left the Devil wide open for a high danger chance.
NJD Goal 2-2: Vesey (Mercer) 19:40
Noteworthy: The power play scored for the first time since 12/7 against the Maples Leafs — 9 games and 18 power play attempts ago.
The Devils nearly took the lead when Korpisalo found himself down and out after a save. Luckily for the home team, a diving Voracek was able to make the save off his shoulder.
With the absence of Texier, Kuraly and Robinson managed to get another Jacket going. Robinson took a swipe at a rebound off a Kuraly shot, but the puck ultimately found the stick of Chinakhov and then the back of the net.
CBJ Goal 3-2: Chinakhov (Robinson, Kuraly) 9:31
Domi went to the box for a Korpisalo tripping penalty right after the Chinakhov goal. This was the second time of the night where the Jackets committed a penalty immediately after a goal. The Devils managed several good chances, but no goals.
Only a few minutes later, the Devils would convert again. Korpi let in a softy when he lost track of the puck in front of the net. It didn’t help that the Blue Jacket defense let Studenic walk into the crease uncontested to tuck home the rebound.
NJD Goal 3-3: Studenic (Boqvist, Graves) 13:32
With a little over a minute left in the period, Domi would head to the box again, this time for his own penalty. Korpisalo may be struggling this season, but with a few seconds left the Jackets’ goalie made a ridiculous cross crease glove save to keep the game tied. This one should end up on SportsCenter tonight.
Noteworthy: Through two periods, Kukan was dead last among defensemen in time on ice, yet was having a great game. The team was winning the unblocked shot attempts battle 10-1 with him on the ice. In addition, the Devils had zero shots on net when Kukan was on the ice. Maybe it was the result of sheltered minutes, but it’s a mindboggling decision to leave a well performing defenseman on the bench, especially for this team.
The Devils were all over the Jackets to start the period and were able to get five shots on Korpisalo in the first two minutes.
Bjorkstrand scored his second of the night at exactly the 15:00 mark. Boqvist found Voracek off a faceoff win and Voracek did not hesitate to find a wound up Bjorkstrand. It was the second point of the night for all three players involved.
CBJ Goal 4-3: Bjorkstrand (Voracek, Boqvist) 15:00
BJORK BJORK BJORK pic.twitter.com/ARMZB0Hsih— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 9, 2022
A frustrated McLeod decided to cross check Peeke in the face after the goal. The result was a large scrum and a Columbus power play. The power play was unable to convert, but Subban went to the box after a cross check to give the Blue Jackets another chance. Unfortunately, the Jackets would once again come up empty.
The Devils pushed back to try and even the game up again, but they were unsuccessful. The three game skid is over.
The Blue Jackets continue to struggle on defense. Korpisalo let in a soft goal in the second period, but made several great saves the rest of the way to secure the victory. Hockey can be a weird game — the Jackets played well enough to win this game, but got some help from a Devil’s own goal and a couple goal robbing saves from their goaltender.
What a great night for Voracek. He got to celebrate his 1,000th game with his family, received a few cool gifts, and managed to dish out two more primary assists on the ice. Congrats to Jake!
Bjorkstrand/Sillinger/Voracek — This was a new look line in the third period. They also scored the game winner.
Bjorkstrand/Roslovic/Voracek — Notice that the difference between the best and worst lines was the player in the middle. This line wasn’t terrible, but it was a negative impact line. Roslovic had a tough night individually.
Seth Jones and the Chicago Blackhawks will visit Nationwide Arena on Tuesday, January 11.