The Blue Jackets sleepwalked their way to a 3-0 deficit tonight and never really seemed to care until it was too late. The New York Rangers absolutely dominated possession tonight, and if not for Elvis Merzlikins making some huge saves, would have been a blowout. It was yet another listless performance for the Jackets, and loss in their reverse retro jerseys.
The Blue Jackets did manage to get on the board and wake up midway through the third, but as usual it was too little too late. As they ran out of time to mount any type of real comeback. Same old story.
Here’s how it went down...
The first five minutes saw a total of just one shot from the Rangers, which is impressive considering the Jackets had a nearly two minute shift in their own end. It was otherwise a sleepy start to this one with neither team getting any flow to their game.
Columbus and New York traded power play chances between the five and ten minute mark of the game. The Blue Jackets top unit managed to spend some time in the zone, but were unable to generate much, and the second unit nearly surrendered a shorthanded goal in their brief 30 second opportunity. New York had about the same amount of success on their power play, but definitely looked more dangerous.
It took the Blue Jackets over ten minutes to generate their first shot on goal that came from a distant slap shot by Olivier.
Nick Blankenberg took a hooking penalty with about 8 minute remaining in the period, but it was negated just seconds after the ensuing faceoff thanks to a Rangers’ hooking penalty of their own.
4-on-4 hockey benfitted the Rangers, as they took the early lead during when Mika Zibanejad scored his 20th goal of the year on a nasty wrister off the rush that used Jackets’ defenseman, Tim Berni, as a screen.
1-0 NYR (Zibenejad from Fox and Kaako)
In the last minutes of the period, Kirill Marchenko took an offensive zone penalty putting the Rangers back on the power play. Columbus survived the first minute of the penalty kill thanks to Mika Zibanejad ringing a shot off the far post. The second unit came on and cashed in on a deflected point shot putting the Rangers up by two with less than a minute in the period.
2-0 NYR (Goodrown from Miller and Kaako)
Three penalties and only four shots on the Rangers backup goaltender is not a recipe for success. They were doubled up in offensive zone time, and appeared completely feckless with the puck on their sticks. It looked like it was going to be a long night.
The Rangers came out of the locker room and picked up right where they left off, dominating puck possession. At one point, Jeff Rimer observed that the Rangers were absolutely crushing the Jackets in shot attempts 37-7. After that I counted at least 5-7 more shot attempts before the Jackets even had one.
Sean Kuraly took the Jackets fourth penalty of the night for hooking Filip Chytil. Already down two, a third goal would ben an absolute dagger. Let’s face it, the second goal was a dagger for this mentally fragile team, but at least there is still a glimmer of hope remaining at that point.
At the midpoint of the second period, the Jackets had only managed to put a SINGLE SHOT on net. With half of the game gone by, the Jackets a grant total of five shots. I know there have been a bunch, but this effort and performance felt like a new low in the season.
The dagger I mentioned just a bit earlier came around 12 minutes into the period. Filip Chytil found Vitaly Kravstov crashing the net, beating Kent Johnson for position. Kravstov cashed in jamming the puck past Merzlikins in close.
3-0 NYR (Kravstov from Chytil and Goodrow)
New York was just controlling the game in every aspect, making the Blue Jackets struggle with even the most fundamental aspects of the game. Seriously... there were multiple players who appeared to have trouble skating tonight, hitting the ice untouched with nobody in the vicinity. It was truly tough to watch.
The Jackets drew a late penalty and would carry over the vast majority of time into the third. Jackets fans held their breath all intermission to see if the Jackets would come out for the third period and look like they gave a crap.
It took the Jackets less than thirty seconds to squander the power play opportunity. Adam Boqvist attemped to knock down a clearing attempt with his stick. His lazy, one-handed wave of the stick caught Kaapo Kakko up high, negating the power play.
Surprisingly, the mishap didn’t deter the Jackets. During the 4-on-4, Jack Roslovic and Gus Nyquist possessed the puck for some time in the offensive zone tiring out the defending Rangers. After the puck left the zone, Gus re-entered the zone while both teams attempted to change. Nyquist held the puck high in the zone, and found Andrew Peeke entering the zone with speed. Peeke walked in and wired a wrist shot far side, top shelf to bring the Jackets within two goals. It was a nice play by Nyquist and an even better shot by Peeke.
snipe by Peeker pic.twitter.com/U11x14fWBw— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 17, 2023
3-1 NYR (Peeke from Nyquist and Roslovic)
It was nice to see the Jackets not completely roll over and after the goal they actually appeared to be making somewhat of a push. Nyquist rang a shot off the post, just missing bringing the Jackets to within a goal.
After the Rangers weather the mini-push, things kind of went back to tough sledding for the Jackets. New York was successfully keeping the Jackets on the outside and out of the high-danger areas. They were exerting too mucuh effort just tracking down pucks to really threaten again.
New York was happy to salt the game away and there really wasn’t much the Jackets could do about it.
Merzlikins was pulled for the extra skater with three minutes remaining in the third and managed to create some pressure on Halak, but he managed to stand tall one of the few times he was actually tested.
The Jackets spent nearly the whole three minutes in the offensive zone with New York committing multiple icing penalties. They didn’t score a goal with the extra man, but did manage to keep the Rangers from scoring an empty net goal which I guess says something if you want to pull out the smallest silver lining.
Final 3-1 Rangers
The Jackets are back at it tomorrow in the country music capital to take on the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena where historically, they have had great success. /s/