The Blue Jackets were coming off a good performance, despite the outcome, against the Flames. Next up, Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. Believe it or not, the Oilers have been fighting for a wild card spot for most of the season. Going into this game, they held the first wild card spot with the Flames and Wild both nipping at their heels.
Offensively, the Jackets have been looking better recently, averaging 3.67 goals per game in their last three. Defensively, they continue to give up too many chances. They needed to play better defense and keep the recent offensive success going for a chance at two points in Edmonton.
Here’s what went down.
The first five minutes of the game were mostly spent in the Columbus zone and featured a scrambling defense. McDavid managed to get the puck to the net twice, but neither attempt resulted in a shot on net.
It wasn’t all Edmonton, however, as Laine and Gaudreau were both able to create good chances on the other end.
Korpi was forced to make several good saves in close and received praise from the broadcast team. It likely would not have been a scoreless game through most of the first period if not for the Columbus goalie.
The Jackets struck first when Jenner won a faceoff and then tipped a Boqvist shot past Skinner. A great play from start to finish from the captain.
CBJ Goal 1-0: Jenner (Boqvist, Laine) 12:25
Boone Jenner opens the scoring for Columbus with a great redirect tally off the face-off win!#CBJ pic.twitter.com/zxYwG69p6p— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) January 26, 2023
The first period ended up being a very back and forth contest. The Oilers won the high danger chance battle 7-2 and forced Korpi to make several tough saves, but overall possession was pretty even after the Jackets settled in.
The Blue Jackets got the first power play of the game when Mrchenko drew a hooking penalty less than two minutes into the second period. The Jackets had two very good chances, including a Blankenburg one-timer off a fabulous Gaudreau backhanded pass, but did not convert.
Johnny Gaudreau had the opportunity to make it a two goal lead after a beautiful Laine stretch pass found him for a breakaway. Skinner showed great resolve and cleanly gloved the Gaudreau attempt.
The Oilers finally broke through when Derek Ryan beat Korpi glove high off the rush. The Columbus defenseman were caught off guard and left the middle of the ice open for the Ryan shot.
EDM Goal 1-1: Ryan (unassisted) 10:17
Gaudreau took an uncharacteristically bad penalty when he crosschecked McDavid into the boards. Korpi made an unreal glove save on Draisaitl, and even received oohs and ahs from the home crowd, but unfortunately that didn’t keep the Oilers from scoring after the next puck drop. Hyman was able to power his way in front of the net and deflect a McDavid shot/pass past Korpi.
EDM PP Goal 2-1: Hyman (McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins) 16:16
JOONAS. KORPISALO. UNFREAKING. BELIEVABLE. pic.twitter.com/CCc8jRIHTA— CBJ Center (@CBJcenter) January 26, 2023
Laine led the team in xGF% through two periods. He looked engaged on both ends of the ice. At the bottom of the list was Mrchenko and Johnson, who were both having tough games.
The Jackets returned to the power play when Kulak went to the box for tripping. There was more good passing between Laine and Gaudreau, and Mrchenko got off a few shots, but the Oilers were able to retain the lead.
Mrchenko continued his assist-less goal scoring streak and evened up the game. He held off the defender along the wall and then skated to the front of the net where he poked home the second effort. It was the kind of play you absolutely love to see a rookie make. He now has 11 goals in his first 25 NHL games.
CBJ Goal 2-2: Mrchenko (unassisted) 11:26
11 tallies for Kiri11 pic.twitter.com/L5WNNVlz7R— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 26, 2023
The Oilers pushed hard in the last few minutes of the third, but the Jackets were able to take their second straight game to OT.
Brad Larsen leaned hard on rookie Kent Johnson during the overtime period and it paid off. KJ and Gaudreau passed the puck back and forth several times in the Oilers zone and Johnson skated into the slot and used a screen to get the puck past Skinner. Jackets win.
CBJ Goal 3-2: Johnson (Gaudreau, Gudbranson) 2:29
GAME. SET. MATCH.— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 26, 2023
KJ'S THE OT HERO!! pic.twitter.com/pZeYeXNIb7
Korpisalo was nothing short of fantastic. This game ends in regulation if not for him. I suspect you will be seeing his power play save on Draisaitl on several highlights this week. His phone is likely blowing up with people telling him that Henrik Lundqvist profusely praised him throughout the broadcast. He deserved the win and the team deserves credit for finding a way to give it to him.
Gaudreau and Laine seem to be developing more chemistry. They have been dangerous recently and this game was no different. Laine, in particular, had a very good overall game.
Mrchenko and Johnson struggled through two periods, but ultimately they were the reason the Jackets tied the game and then won in overtime. Larsen has received a lot of criticism from me this season, but he deserves credit for giving those two kids a chance despite their struggles early in the game.
The Blue Jackets head to Vancouver to take on the Canucks on Friday at 10:00PM ET.