The Blue Jackets got off to a surprisingly good start with a goal by (checks notes) ... Mathieu Olivier? Really?
OLIVIER GETS THE GAME GOIN' pic.twitter.com/bhxeuT6sMj— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 20, 2023
But seriously, this was a great goal. Eric Robinson won a race to the puck along the boards in the defensive zone, which sprung Olivier on a breakaway. His shot was a genuinely beautiful snipe. He fought Sam Carrick that period, putting him an assist away from a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
The pleasant surprises kept coming, as Jack Roslovic scored his first goal since December 11. It was credit as uassisted, but Emil Bemstrom deserves credit for his hit that freed the puck, which Roslovic recovered.
Late in the period, Nick Blankenburg had one of the more entertaining shifts in recent memory for Columbus. First, he lowered the boom on Isac Lundestrom, sending him into the Columbus bench.
saved a seat for ya pic.twitter.com/HIodbSTTPi— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 20, 2023
Then, he scored a goal to put the Jackets up 3-0. Patrik Laine got an assist for his 100th point as a Blue Jacket.
Anaheim made a goalie change, benching Anthony Stolarz and putting in John Gibson. Stolarz is the backup, but actually had a better GAA on the season than Gibson. Neither has been great. Gibson was sharp tonight, however, stopping 18 shots over the back two periods. But credit to the Anaheim defense because they only allowed 18 shots on goal in 40 minutes after giving up 15 in the first 20. That change was the shot in the arm they needed.
I was going to describe the Anaheim goals but my computer acted up and I had to reboot, so suffice it to say that a combination of sloppy turnovers and chickens-with-heads-cut-off defensive positioning let the Ducks back into the game.
The first goal was just 22 seconds into the second period, and started with a Boone Jenner turnover in the neutral zone. Adam Henrique scored a close range goal, then later in the period Cam Fowler did the same.
The tying goal was as frustrating as it was predictable, with Simon “Blanc” Benoit’s long range laser. Blankenburg couldn’t move Lundestrom this time, who parked in front of Elvis and blocked his view.
With the game tied headed into the third, would the Blue Jackets respond? Friends, I wish I could say they rallied and went back to playing as they did in the first period. But if you’ve been watching this team this season, you know they crumpled like a littered fast food bag.
You couldn’t place the blame on Elvis for the second period, but the go-ahead goal was one he would like back. It’s not clear if the trajectory of the puck changed, or if his glove just missed.
Zegras scores the Ducks' fourth unanswered goal pic.twitter.com/VC76uBlVbO— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) January 20, 2023
That game after the Jackets had controlled possession early in the period. Then there were a series of power plays (two for Anaheim, one for Columbus) and the Jackets never got it going again until the final few minutes, when they were already down two.
The final goal was so painful to watch. Elvis made a great sprawling save, but lost track of where the puck was. His teammates were all either behind or to the side of the goal, with none near the crease. So Max Jones could walk in unmolested and tap in the rebound.
Jonesy Expands The Lead✅— Anaheim Sports (@AnaheimSports1) January 20, 2023
Max Jones (3) Goal
Jayson Megna (3) Assist
Isac Lundestrom (7) Assist
Elvis Merzlikins Against
Anaheim Ducks 5 - Columbus Blue Jackets 3 3rd
Credit: Ballys#ANAvsCBJ #LetsGoDucks #FlyTogether pic.twitter.com/mFLm39o55K
Charmin Ultra thinks this team is too soft.
Olivier after the game: “We just stopped playing.”
They sure did! Via Natural Stat Trick:
5v5 High Danger Shot Attempts: 6-3 CBJ in the first period, 10-2 ANA in the final 40
5v5 expected goals by period:
1st CBJ 1.03-0.55
2nd CBJ 0.84-0.81
3rd ANA 1.31-0.23
In all situations, Gibson saved 1.66 goals above expected. Elvis allowed 1.45 goals below expected. There are a couple he would want back but if you look at this shot chart you can see why this game shouldn’t be blamed on the goalie. Anaheim got to the crease; Columbus didn’t.
For those who care about this sort of thing, the loss created a three point cushion between the Ducks and Jackets. The Blackhawks beat the Flyers, which puts Columbus two points behind them for sole possession of last place in the league. We still have two games in hand on the Blackhawks, so it’s a bigger gap by points percentage (.349 vs. .311)
Hopefully a bag skate tomorrow.
Then, another bad California team comes to Nationwide on Saturday night in the form of the San Jose Sharks.