The Blue Jackets nearly pulled off their most improbable win of the season. I say this considering everybody had assumed the Jackets had lost the game 4-2, but a penalty behind the play (somehow) negated an empty net goal, reviving the Blue Jackets who were able to send find the equalizer just moments later. Ultimately the Blue Jackets didn’t get big save from their goaltender in overtime, giving the Winnipeg Jets the second point they so desperately needed.
Even though the Jackets were on the wrong end of it, the game was an entertaining one with a very exciting finish. Wish they could have gotten a win for Roslovic and Laine in their return to Winnipeg.
Here’s how it went down.
The Jets took exactly 30 seconds to generate their first scoring chance, ringing a shot off the crossbar behind Elvis Merzlikins.
Winnipeg struck first just over seven minutes into the game. The fourth line of both teams were on the ice when Dominic Toninato redirected a Brenden Dillon point shot past Merzlikins. The puck was going wide of the net and Elvis had come out of his crease to try and play it. Once the puck was headed back on net, Elvis found himself out of position to stop it.
1-0 Jets (Toninato from Dillon and Sanford)
With 8:25 left in the period, Josh Morrissey was called for interference for holding up Justin Danforth as he pursued the puck on the forecheck.
During the power play, everyone in the building new the Jackets were looking to feed Patrik Laine. After a Winnipeg zone clear, Jake Voracek gathered the puck and carried it up to neutral ice. He flipped a soft pass to center ice which was intercepted by Dominic Toninato and a quick lob pass sent Kyle Connor in on a breakaway. He beat Elvis with a slick backhand for his 41st of the year and the team’s 9th shorthanded goal on the season.
2-0 Jets (Connor from Toninato)
The Blue Jackets sent out the second unit to try their luck, and thankfully they had some. After gaining the zone, the Jackets passed around the perimeter to try and create a shot. Adam Boqvist kept the play alive by skillfully handling a pass that was headed out of the zone, just keeping it on the blue line and sending the puck to Gus Nyquist. Nyquist gave the puck right back to Boqvist, and he wasted little time wiring a wrist shot off the post and in, cutting the deficit to one.
2-1 (Boqvist from Nyquist and Roslovic)
The Blue Jackets played strong defense for the remainder of the period, holding Winnipeg to just a single shot. The Jackets ended the period still down by a goal, but controlled the play for much of the frame, outshooting the Jets 14-4.
Similar to Winnipeg in the first, this time it was the Jackets’ who opened the period with a strong scoring chance. Justin Danforth had quick shot off a strong forecheck after the opening faceoff. Danforth was flying around all night creating opportunities.
The teams traded a few scoring chances but it was the Jackets who struck next, thanks to an ugly turnover from the Winnipeg defenseman who whiffed on a clearing attempt. Emil Bemstrom applied the pressure and was right there to pick up the loose puck and find Brendan Gaunce with a backhand pass. Gaunce took the pass and fired a shot all in one motion that found its way under Eric Comrie’s glove and into the net.
2-2 (Gaunce from Bemstrom)
Shortly after the Gaunce goal, the Jackets penalty kill was tasked with keeping the momentum on their side when Patrik Laine was called for a trip. The Jets controlled the puck inside the Jackets’ end for nearly the full two minutes and did everything but score. Vladislav Gavrikov and Andrew Peeke were stuck out there for the entire penalty kill.
The Jets had a much better period after their lackluster opening frame. They were the ones controlling much of the play in the second even though the Jackets were the only team to find the back of the net to that point.
The Blue Jackets would play with fire to end the period, putting the Jets power play back on the ice in the final two minutes. Once again, the Blue Jackets penalty killers were stuck in their own end for extended shifts unable to clear the zone. This time the Jets cashed in when Josh Morrissey one-timed a shot that Elvis got his glove on but couldn’t handle. There have been far too many soft goals allowed by the Jackets #1 goaltender this year.
3-2 Jets (Morrissey from Scheifele and Wheeler)
It was another deflating goal in the final minute of play, as well as another self-inflicted wound for this young squad. The Jackets would have to pull off another comeback win to add to their league leading numbers if they wanted to snag the two points.
There were no golden scoring chances to open the third. Quite the opposite actually as the period opened up with both teams playing a tight-checking structured style.
A pair of coincidental minor penalties on Justin Danforth and Josh Morrissey allowed for some 4-on-4 hockey. Chances were limited with the additional open ice, but the best chance came as the penalties were ending. Oliver BJORKSTRAND carried the puck into the Winnipeg zone, beating the defenseman, only to have the puck roll off his stick as he tried to bring the puck back on his forehand and put a shot on net.
The Jackets were still down at the halfway point of the period with very few scoring chances in their favor. After the Jackets’ strong start in the first period, they managed just eight shots in the following thirty minutes.
Elvis had to make a huge save on an odd-man rush, sliding across the crease to rob Paul Stastny. Moments later it was Comrie’s turn to make a big save, Yegor Chinakhov created a turnover at his own blue line and took off on a breakaway. He fired a shot low and Comrie kicked out the pad to steer the puck harmlessly into the corner.
The Blue Jackets started to turn up the pressure in the dying minutes of the period but were still unable to put another one past Comrie. Merzlikins headed to the bench with just under two minutes remaining. Patrik Laine did get a chance to tie it up, letting it rip from his spot, but Comrie was up to the challenge. Brad Larsen used his timeout with 47 seconds remaining. Just after the faceoff it appeared the Jets scored on the empty net, but a slashing penalty on Josh Morrissey negated it. Not sure how to justify taking that goal off the board, but it’s nice to be on the receiving end of one of those calls. The Blue Jackets still had a little life left in them.
That was all they needed! The Jackets won the ensuing faceoff, and Zach Werenski threw the puck on net from the point creating a juicy rebound for Oliver BJORKSTRAND to bang home with 14 seconds remaining.
3-3 (BJORKSTRAND from Werenski and Voracek)
The Jackets had stolen a point and were headed to overtime.
Sean Kuraly was out for the faceoff as expected. He won the draw but decided to stay on ice as Voracek carried the puck into the zone. There was a scramble in front after Zach Werenski almost scored, and the Jackets were all caught deep. Nikolai Ehlers was tossed the puck behind the Jackets skaters and was all alone with Merzlikins. Ehlers calmly skated in and fired a shot through Elvis’ five hole, ending the overtime period just 21 seconds in. Jackets could have really used a big save there from Merzlikins, and with that goal he went 0 for 2 on breakaways. That ended up being the difference in the game. It’s a damn shame that Patrik Laine did not get a chance to see the ice in overtime.
Jets win 4-3 (Ehlers from Connor)
The Blue Jackets are back in action tomorrow in Minnesota to take on the Minnesota Wild at 8pm.