Tonight, the Columbus Blue Jackets battled fellow basement-dweller the Anaheim Ducks in a battle with major implications for Connor Bedard’s sweepstakes. Anaheim entered the night five points and two spots ahead of the Jackets in the race for last place, and a loss by the Blue Jackets in regulation would officially eliminate them from playoff contention.
Here’s what happened.
Anaheim opened the scoring early - Trevor Zegras beat Michael Hutchinson for his 22nd of the season at just 3:19 of the first. After a failed power play by Columbus, the Ducks won an offensive zone faceoff and Zegras found himself all alone at the back post. Easy tap-in for the Ducks star.
Ducks goal (0-1): Zegras from Strome and McGinn, 3:19
Strome finds Zegras WIDE open. Ducks up by one in the first. pic.twitter.com/83Fl0KnfqV— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 18, 2023
At 9:23 of the first, the Jackets found an equalizer. Nick Blankenburg redirected a shot in front of the net that the Ducks netminder got a piece of but not enough to deny it.
Blue Jackets goal (1-1): Blankenburg from Foudy, 10:57
Blanks has his fourth goal of the year with this opening period goal! pic.twitter.com/GzDRLIhy9l— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 18, 2023
The Jackets earned another power play chance after the goal, but the Ducks killed it off. With 5:23 remaining in the first, former Jacket Scott Harrington let a shot go through traffic and beat Hutchinson to make it 2-1 Ducks.
Ducks goal (1-2): Harrington from Terry and Benoit, 14:37
With 30.5 seconds to go in the first, Boone Jenner scored to tie the game. Johnny Gaudreau drew two defenders and beat the Ducks netminder high blocker side to equalize at two apiece.
Blue Jackets goal (2-2): Jenner from Gaudreau and Laine, 19:29
You know it's all about the BOONE #CBJ pic.twitter.com/nRPH5W5nsn— Bally Sports Columbus (@BallySportsCBUS) March 18, 2023
At the final whistle, Erik Gudbranson took an interference penalty, giving the Ducks a two minute power play to start the second period.
The Jackets killed the Ducks penalty to open the second period. With 16:16 remaining, Max Comtois used Andrew Peeke as a screen following a neutral zone turnover to beat Hutchinson for a 3-2 Ducks lead.
Ducks goal (2-3): Comtois from Grant and Benoit, 3:44
The Jackets earned a power play at 14:47 as Ryan Strome went off for hooking. With 3:25 remaining, Cole Sillinger FINALLY broke his goalless drought to make it 3-3.
Blue Jackets goal (3-3): Sillinger from Johnson and Bemstrom, 16:35
We're getting SILLY pic.twitter.com/mCq1C8uo6M— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 18, 2023
The second ended with the game tied at three apiece.
The Ducks regained the lead at 2:25 of the third as Troy Terry deflected the puck past Hutchinson as Mathieu Olivier was beaten.
Ducks goal (3-4): Terry from White and McTavish, 2:25
After the Jackets earned a power play chance, Patrik Laine capitalized on his own rebound to tie the game at four after it bounced off the pad of the goaltender.
Blue Jackets goal (4-4): Laine from Boqvist and Hutchinson, 6:43
Patty ties the game at 4 pic.twitter.com/nTajwqdv3y— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 18, 2023
The Ducks went to the power play with 8:45 to go as Boone Jenner went to the box. The Jackets killed the penalty but not before Cam Fowler rang a shot off the crossbar.
With 2:37 remaining, Max Jones gave the Ducks the 5-4 lead as the puck skipped over Kent Johnson’s stick and sent Jones on a break that he capitalized on to give the Ducks a one goal advantage late.
Ducks goal (4-5): Jones, unassisted, 17:23
With 48 seconds remaining, Scott Harrington’s empty net goal sealed this one.
Ducks goal (4-6): Harrington, unassisted, 19:12
Ryan Strome capped this one with a final empty netter.
Ducks goal (4-7): Strome, unassisted, 19:26
Columbus Blue Jackets 4 Anaheim Ducks 7
Congratulations to Cole Sillinger on breaking his goalless drought with his first since November. Hopefully this gives Sillinger some confidence heading into the stretch. 45 games between goals for Sillinger.
A massive win in the race for Connor Bedard for Columbus. Great job, Jackets.
Shoutout Scott Harrington for his biggest contributions to Blue Jackets success in his career.
The Columbus Blue Jackets travel to take on the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday, March 19. Faceoff is set for 4:00 PM EST.