This is the time of the year that builds character. The Columbus Blue Jackets have been eliminated from the playoffs and their last four games are against playoff teams. With young players on the team, it’s important to finish the season strong and leave yourself something to build on next year. First up, the Edmonton Oilers. For a team that’s struggled defensively all season, this was a good opportunity to build confidence for the off-season.
It was also kids takeover day at Nationwide Arena. Kids contributed to the broadcast, in-arena announcing, and arena festivities. Could the youngsters on the ice also contribute?
Kids Takeover Day reporter Charlie Miesen chats with Cole Sillinger about how the @BlueJacketsNHL can bounce back today against Connor McDavid and the Oilers.#CBJ | @DMaetzMedia pic.twitter.com/6GXWQZDDdy— Bally Sports Columbus (@BallySportsCBUS) April 24, 2022
The Blue Jackets started the game with their legs underneath them. They were able to pin the Oilers in their own zone early, but it was Edmonton that struck first. McDavid found Kane off the rush and the puck found the top corner of the net.
EDM Goal 1-0: Kane (McDavid) 3:08
The Jackets got their first power play immediately after the Edmonton goal when Brassard trucked Elvis and earned a goal interference penalty. No dice, though, for the home team. Of note, Blankenburg found himself quarterbacking the second unit. The youngster is quickly gaining the trust of the coaching staff.
A few minutes later, Robinson committed an ill-advised crosschecking penalty to give the Oilers their first power play. It was an easy call to make for the refs, which is not what you want when you play the Oilers. Luckily, the Jackets were able to easily kill off the penalty.
Elvis made a highlight reel save late in the period when McDavid slid the puck across to Yamamoto on a 2-on-0. The Jackets’ goalie slid across the crease to make the pad save.
Blankenburg continued to make his presence felt when he found Voracek with a nifty pass and earned an assist on the tying goal. Voracek was able to create a rebound that found Robinson, who was able to backhand the puck for his 10th goal of the year.
CBJ Goal 1-1: Robinson (Voracek, Blankenburg) 15:58
What a feed by Blanks pic.twitter.com/OZ4RS7SiJu— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 24, 2022
NHL officiating reared its ugly head as the period dwindled down. Meyer lined up a clean hit, which angered McDavid. McDavid crosschecked Kuraly and all hell broke loose. In the 10 player scrum, Kassian crosschecked Robinson in the back of the head and then sucker punched him with a hard left. Kassian and Robinson were both given two minutes minors along with McDavid. Once again, this league cares little about protecting its own players from head injuries. Throwing Robinson in the box for taking a crosscheck and a punch just to prevent a 5-on-3 is beyond ridiculous.
Merzlikins just wanted to be involved. pic.twitter.com/VGQeQWK1p7— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 24, 2022
The Oilers came out strong to start the period. The Jackets were stuck in their own zone and a holding penalty was eventually taken by Danforth. This time the Oilers would capitalize. It looked like an easy game of keep away and Draisaitl eventually scored on a one-timer.
EDM PP Goal 2-1: Draisaitl (McDavid, Barrie) 5:30
Johnson showed off some offensive skill on his next shift. First, a quick touch in front of the net was nearly his first goal. Then he made a spin move to keep possession and put himself into open space. A few seconds later he was able to make a nasty saucer pass from behind the net that nearly led to a goal. KJ is showing glimpses of skill and vision, but he mostly struggled all afternoon.
The Oilers continued to push hard and spent several minutes in the Blue Jackets’ zone. Chinakhov made a good individual effort in the neutral zone to draw a tripping penalty. The Jackets’ power play had several good chances including a Bjorkstrand shot that went off the crossbar. Bemstrom also found himself all alone in front of the net, but he rang the puck off the post.
It took less than two minutes for the Jackets to tie up the game. Sillinger went hard to the net and created a nice rebound for Bjorkstrand. The Dane was able to push the puck home.
CBJ Goal 2-2: Bjorkstrand (Sillinger, Nyquist) 1:36
Oliver Bjorkstrand tucks home the rebound on his backhand for his 25th of the year, tying it up at 2!#CBJ pic.twitter.com/iNSFMXA6VG— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) April 24, 2022
In typical Blue Jackets fashion, their opponent went to the power play immediately after a goal. Blankenburg was caught holding a stick. Fortunately, his teammates were able to bail him out by killing the penalty.
Blankenburg continued to get rewarded for his play. After an Oilers’ too many men penalty, he got moved up to the first power play unit. He immediately took advantage of the opportunity. After a game of pass and catch with Bjorkstrand, Blankenburg ripped a shot from the point that made it past Koskinen. That was his first in the NHL in only his sixth game.
CBJ PP Goal 3-2: Blankenburg (Bjorkstrand, Voracek)
THE FIRST OF MANY @nblanks98 | #CBJ pic.twitter.com/1m71njMUlW— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 24, 2022
As the Oilers started to play a more risky game of hockey, the Blue Jackets were able to create more rush chances. One of those paid off as Voracek found Roslovic on a 2-on-1. The Columbus kid remains on fire. Voracek got his 3rd assist on the day and moved to 54 on the year.
CBJ Goal 4-2: Roslovic (Voracek, Nyquist) 16:45
This Rosie celebration > pic.twitter.com/BeLet0MoWC— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 24, 2022
One more to ice it.
CBJ EN Goal 5-2: Sillinger (Bjorkstrand) 19:13
With only four games left in the season and having been eliminated from the playoffs, the Blue Jackets put together a full team effort to beat a good team. Elvis stood strong in the crease and saved 33 of 35, the defense did a good job of limiting chances (as much as you can against the Oilers), and the offense did enough to get the win.
The kids took over Nationwide Arena in more than one way this afternoon. In honor of the special day, let’s take a look at how the youngsters on the ice performed.
Cole Sillinger - 1 goal, 1 assist, 79.3% xGF 5v5
Nick Blankenburg - 1 game winning goal, 1 assist, 48.6% xGF 5v5
Kent Johnson - 2 scoring chances
Yegor Chinakhov - 2 shots, 2 scoring chances, 66% xGF 5v5
The Blue Jackets are heading to Tampa to take on the Lightning Tuesday at 7pm ET.