The Winnipeg Jets came to town after winning three in a row to face the last place Columbus Blue Jackets. It was one of the stranger games in recent memory. The Jackets tried their best to lose, but the Jets would not allow it. There were 12 minor penalties in the game and the 5v5 action only added up to 39:50. In the end, it was Joonas Korpisalo, Patrik Laine, and Kent Johnson that led the Jackets past the Jets.
The game was heavily tilted towards the Jets in the early minutes. Korpisalo was forced to make several good saves and the post helped out with another. The fourth line got pinned deep several times while the other lines were not able to get any offensive zone time. The Jackets looked sluggish and the Jets were playing with a jump in their step.
The Jackets were able to clamp down defensively as the period went on, but they still couldn’t manage to make anything happen offensively. With two minutes left in the period, Foudy went to the box for a tripping penalty. Gudbranson would then go to the box 90 seconds in to give the Jets a 5-on-3. The Jackets killed off the Foudy penalty, but the Jets managed to score only a second later. Connor had too much time and was able to pick his spot through the legs of Beyreuther.
WPG PP Goal 1-0: Connor (Wheeler, Dubois) 19:57
To say the first period was lopsided would be a bit of an understatement. The Jackets had only 2 unblocked shot attempts to the Jets’ 13. The best line, and the only line that had a positive impact, was the Sillinger line. The rest of the Columbus forwards got destroyed. There were 11 Blue Jackets that combined for 0 unblocked shot attempts.
The Jackets came out with slightly more energy to start the second. They were rewarded with a power play when Dubois went off for a hooking penalty. There was some good movement and a couple of decent chances, but the Jets were able to kill off the penalty.
Close to the halfway point, Johnson stayed strong on the puck trying to exit the zone and was able to draw a penalty against Dubois. It was a great play by the rookie. To put the icing on the cake, Laine was able to convert on the power play when the Jets gave him too much time and save on the left dot.
CBJ PP Goal 1-1: Laine (Boqvist, Gaudreau) 10:00
best believe he's still ✨bejeweled✨ pic.twitter.com/HnBWLOz5f7— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 17, 2023
Peeke went to the box for holding a few minutes later. It was penalty that should have been avoided. Then, for the second time in the game, Gudbranson sent the Jackets to a 5-on-3 when his stick connected with Wheeler’s face. Fortunately, the Jackets were able to kill off the power play.
Following a Gudbranson breakaway (yes, you read that correctly), Gaudreau drew another Jets penalty. Korpi was forced to make a save on a Dubois breakaway when Laine whiffed on a puck. Jenner nearly scored on the power play, but the game remained even.
The Jets pushed hard at the end of the period, but the Jackets actually managed to not give up a last second goal. Barely.
Kuraly went to the box early on a questionable hooking call. For the third time of the night, the Jackets went to a 5-on-3 when Bayreuther sailed the puck into the crowd from his own zone. Then Connor went to the box for hooking to nullify the 5-on-3. It looked like another questionable call as the officials were doing their best to make the game about them.
Somehow, the game managed to get back to 5v5.
But wait, there’s more! Pionk went to the box for tripping Olivier to make sure the 5v5 would not continue. The Jackets were not able to score on the power play, but KJ was able to get a surprise no-look shot on Rittich only a few seconds after the penalty expired to give his team the lead. It would end up being his second game winning goal in three games.
CBJ Goal 2-1: Johnson (Roslovic, Bemstrom) 9:40
KJ cellies are the best cellies pic.twitter.com/Vl1S8joWY4— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 17, 2023
Blankenburg got a delay of game penalty to send the Jets back to the power play. Korpi stood on his head to keep the puck out of the net and the penalty was killed off.
Jenner sent home the empty netter to seal the win.
CBJ EN Goal 3-1: Jenner (Laine, Korpisalo) 19:57
Korpisalo stood on his head and was deservedly the first star of the game. Enjoy the Finn while still given the chance because I would be shocked if someone didn’t pick him up at the deadline with how he has been playing.
Credit to the Jackets for winning the game, but it felt like the Jets lost the game more than anything. They had seven power play opportunities and only scored on one. They scored 0 goals at even strength despite 19 scoring chances and 22 shots. You have to wonder if they thought they were strolling into Nationwide for an easy win.
The win puts the Jackets ahead of the Blackhawks and out of the coveted 32nd spot.
The Jackets are heading to Dallas to take on the Stars on Saturday. The puck drops at 6:00PM ET.