It was a fun Wednesday night in Nationwide Arena with the Columbus Blue Jackets defeating the Montreal Canadiens by a final score of 5-1. There haven’t been too many games this season in which you could confidently say the Jackets were the better team and deserved to win by a large margin. It was a quiet night for highly-touted rookie Kent Johnson, although the skill was evident. However, it was his fellow Michigan rookie, Nick Blankenburg, who had the more impressive debut. Blankenburg blocked five shots, collected his first NHL point, and logged almost 17 minutes of ice time in his professional debut. Oh, he was also the game’s Third Star and conducted a post-game interview with Jody Shelley on the bench. Not bad for a guy most of us had never heard of until a week ago.
It was a fun game to watch and here’s how it went down.
The Blue Jackets had jump in their game early, with Cole Sillinger creating a chance just over a minute in, but did not finish on a one-timer from between the circles. Montreal goaltender Samuel Montembeault appeared to be down and out of position, but appeared to somehow get a piece of it.
Early on, everyone had their eyes out for Kent Johnson’s first shift and it came almost two minutes into the game. He kept it simple and short and it was over quickly. My initial thought was that for a small guy, it was a bit surprising to see Kent Johnson throw his weight around in his first NHL shift. Overall Johnson didn’t see much time with the puck in the period, but when he did you could see the skill there with his crisp, confident passes.
The Blue Jackets penalty kill was tested early after a too many men penalty. As Nick Blankenburg stepped on the ice he blasted Jake Evans entering the zone, but he appeared to jump over the boards a bit early resulting in six players on the ice.
The Jackets struck first almost halfway through the period. After possessing the puck in the Montreal zone and passing up multiple shooting opportunities prior, Jack Roslovic decided to finally pull the trigger and receiving a nice feed across zone from Patrik Laine. Roslovics shot hit Samuel Montembeault in his chest/shoulder area, but he couldn’t handle it cleanly and the puck popped up over his shoulder and trickled over the line.
Rosie is on a roll! pic.twitter.com/9WF5uDRoWN— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 14, 2022
1-0 CBJ (Roslovic from Laine and Gavrikov)
During the first t.v. timeout the organization honored former Blue Jackets Josh Anderson and David Savard, who received a very warm welcome back from the crowd.
With about six minutes remaining, the Blue Jackets received their first opportunity on the power play courtesy of an interference penalty drawn by Justin Danforth.
The Jackets had multiple high-quality chances with their first unit including a post from Jake Voracek who had the goaltender beat. The Jackets’ second unit wasn’t able to generate much and the penalty was killed.
Columbus looked to be the better team in the opening period, and generated a few more chances as the opening frame wound down but were unable to add to their lead. The Blue Jackets took a 14-9 shot advantage and a 1-0 lead into the locker room after twenty.
Again, the Jackets came out strong on the opening shift of the period controlling the puck off the opening draw. Zach Werenski was absolutely robbed by Montembeault with a flashy glove save. The Blue Jackets maintained most of the possession for the first few minutes, again with nothing to show for it.
After an uneventful stretch of play, the Blue Jackets headed back to the power play when Jake Voracek drew a hooking penalty on Alexander Romanov. The Blue Jackets first unit spent most of the time on the ice, unable to generate much. Emil Bemstrom had a golden chance in front but missed high trying to go top shelf just after time expired.
With seven minutes remaining, it was Montreal’s turn on the mad advantage. Josh Anderson chipped a puck in deep and was turning on the jets, causing Andrew Peeke to hold him up, drawing an interference penalty. Nick Blankenburg got some time on the penalty kill with Peeke in the box and looked solid. Montreal once again couldn’t get anything going on the power play, nearly giving up a shorthanded goal as time expired, allowing a two-on-one after a missed shot. Yet again, Montembeault bailed out his team with another strong save, sliding across the crease to take away a goal from Adam Boqvist.
However, it wasn’t long before the Blue Jackets added to their lead. Jack Roslovic put himself on hatty watch in his second straight game when he directed another Patrik Laine pass into the net. It appeared to go in either off his glove or the handle of his stick, but as they say, “it’s not how, but how many.” It was Roslovic’s 17th goal of the year, and his 5th goal in 5 periods.
AS WE WERE SAYING... 29➡️96 pic.twitter.com/kThOqzwhXX— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 14, 2022
2-0 CBJ (Roslovic from Laine and Nyquist)
The Blue Jackets kept the pressure on, drawing another penalty when Emil Bemstrom was slashed. Columbus ended an 0 for 20 skid on the power play when Patrik Laine snapped a shot from a tough angle into an empty net. He also snapped his own 10-game scoring skid with his 26th of the season. It was Laine’s third point of the game putting him back over the point-per-game line with his 56th point in his 55th game of the season.
Laine knows how to get the 5th Line HYPED! pic.twitter.com/bD78dZveM4— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 14, 2022
3-0 CBJ (Laine from Nyquist and Voracek)
On the next shift Montreal drew a penalty of their own, giving them a chance to cut into the lead before the end of the period. It didn’t take much time at all before they did just that. Nick Suzuki walked in from the point and wired a wrister towards the net that Ryan Poehling got a piece of, deflecting the puck past Merzlikins to get the Habs on the board.
3-1 CBJ (Poehling from Suzuki and Hoffman)
Once again, the Blue Jackets were the better team in the period, but the late goal seemed to give Montreal some life.
Early in the third, the Jackets looked to potentially give the Canadiens even more life, granting them another chance on the power play. Kent Johnson committed his first professional penalty and sat for two minutes for a trip.
Montreal was unable to take advantage and chip away at the lead, but Kent offered apologies to his teammates nonetheless as he came out of the box and to the bench.
The Blue Jackets were playing a strong third period, not allowing much to the Canadiens. Just over six and a half minutes into the third, the Blue Jackets reclaimed their three goal lead. Emil Bemstrom fired a shot toward the net from the point and Cole Sillinger had a beautiful deflection from far out that changed direction and caught Montembeault sliding toward the wrong post. Nick Blankenburg collected his first NHL point on the play, having passed the puck to Bemstrom prior to the shot.
SLO-MO look at that Silly goal pic.twitter.com/TjpXhFfwpR— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 14, 2022
4-1 CBJ (Sillinger from Bemstrom and Blankenburg)
Montreal nearly cut the lead in half with two and a half minutes remaining, but Elvis was bailed out by the post when his glove couldn’t handle a point slapper from Alexander Romanov.
The Jackets would put to bed any idea of a late comeback when Emil Bemstrom carried the puck into the zone, pulled up and sniped a goal top shelf over the glove of Montembeault. Putting Bemstrom in a position to succeed might just pay off after all.
BEMMER putting the icing on the cake pic.twitter.com/kvt4qau6jl— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 14, 2022
Final Score 5-1 CBJ (Bemstrom from Voracek and Sillinger)
The Blue Jackets salted away the little time remaining and closed out the win in a game they were able to assert their will.
The Blue Jackets head out west for their California trip beginning Saturday night at 10:30pm in L.A. when the Jackets take on the Los Angeles Kings.