The Blue Jackets kicked off their final twenty game stretch with a 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. The Blue Jackets were simply outclassed by a hungry, contending team and were never really a threat to win the game. They were pretty much doubled up in most offensive categories, including shots and offensive zone time. It was a combination of having played last night as well as playing a much better team that is riding a hot streak and it amounted to yet another lopsided game that will help the Jackets in their tank. Top liners, Johnny Gaudreau and Boone Jenner were both a -4 in this one and the analytics supported that figure. Just an ugly game all around for the most part. Get used to them in this final stretch.
#NHL GameScore Impact Card for Columbus Blue Jackets on 2023-03-04:#CBJ pic.twitter.com/QUhxTEj9yW— HockeyStatCards (@hockeystatcards) March 5, 2023
Here’s how it went down...
After a twenty minute delay for Derick Brassard’s 1000th game celebration, Ottawa came out and controlled the pace of play for the first five minutes of the game, and scoring on their fifth shot of the game when Travis Hamonic walked into a one-timer from the circle that beat Merzlikins over the glove.
1-0 OTT (Hamonic from Joseph and Sanderson)
The Jackets answered only 18 seconds later when Jack Roslovic picked up a turnover in the neutral zone and entered the zone with speed. He wired a shot off the rush that beat Senators’ goalie Cam Talbot clean.
Roslovic ties it up pic.twitter.com/DRrCgI8Gb0— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 5, 2023
1-1 (Roslovic unassisted)
Play calmed down for a while with both teams spending a lot of time in the neutral zone, but that changed about 12 minutes into the period.
Johnny Gaudreau controlled the puck in the offensive zone, and while waiting for a play to develop near the blue line, turned the puck over resulting in a 3-on-1 with him as the only defender.
It was easy work for the Ottawa forwards with Stutzle finishing a Brady Tkachuk pass for his 30th goal of the season. Gaudreau could do nothing but skate back to the bench, head hung in shame. It was that ugly.
2-1 OTT (Stutzle from Tkachuk and Chychrun)
Ottawk kept up the pressure in the remaining minutes, forcing Elvis to make some tough saves down the stretch to keep the Jackets within reach. It was obvious who the better team was as well as who played last night.
To potentially make things worse, Tim Berni took his third minor penalty in the last four periods in the last minute of play putting Ottawa on the power play. The Senators were held off the board in their abbreviated power play, but would carry over the majority of it to begin the second period. At the buzzer, Ottawa was dominating the Blue Jackets in shots 15-3.
The Blue Jackets managed to survive the remainder of the Berni penalty to open the period, including a massive stop to deny Jakob Chychrun as time expired.
Unfortunately seconds after the penalty expired the Jackets committed another one. They saved the penalty killers the effort on this one, giving up a rebound goal to Travis Hamonic.
3-1 (Hamonic from DeBrincat and Sanderson)
The wheels officially fell off only 48 seconds later when Jakob Chychrun absolutely wired a shot past Merzlikins for his first goal on his new team.
4-1 (Chychrun from Brannstrom and Gauthier)
That was it for Elvis. Brad Larsen had seen enough (from both goaltender and rest of the team), and called on Michael Hutchinson to take over duties in net. Can’t blame it on Elvis too much tonight when his team was a total no-show in front of him. At that point Ottawa had as many goals as the Blue Jackets had shots.
Around the halfway mark of the game, Adam Boqvist drew a tripping penalty, putting the Blue Jackets on the power play for the first time.
It looked like yet another dud of a man-advantage, until Kirill Marchenko, with his hustle, created a turnover as Ottawa looked to clear the puck and head up ice. He lifted the stick of Tim Stutzle, stole the puck and fed Patrik Laine, who ripped a shot over the glove of Cam Talbot. It was just the second assist of Marchenko’s career, but man was it a beauty.
What a BEAUTY!— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 5, 2023
Marchy Patty pic.twitter.com/idfejWD2A4
4-2 (Laine from Marchenko)
Newly acquired Michael Hutchinson made his first big save with just over five minutes remaining in the second period denying an Ottawa breakaway after the Blue Jackets defenseman blew a tire at the blue line.
Moments later, Boone Jenner and Jakob Chychrun traded slashing penalties resulting in some 4-on-4 hockey. For the extra open ice, there was nothing of note to happen when skill is supposed to shine. Just as the penalties expired Adam Boqvist was penalized for hooking while attempting to break up a Mathieu Joseph breakaway, although one could argue it was a legit defensive play. If the Jackets wanted any chance to steal this game, their penalty killers would have to come up big late in the frame.
The PK units were held tough and kept the Jackets in the game. The period ended with the Jackets still down a pair of goals. Although the bar was low, it was a marginally better period for the Blue Jackets even with the pair of early goals allowed. The shots in the period were 14-8, and 28-11 overall. Ottawa also was doubling up Columbus in offensive zone time with nearly 12 minutes compared to the Jackets’ 6 minutes. It would take a herculean effort if the Jackets were to pull out the win in the third.
The Blue Jackets came out in the third and generated some much needed offensive zone time to start. They weren’t able to put a puck past Talbot, but it was a good sign considering the circumstance.
The Blue Jackets were slowly attempting to close the gap in shots but not too many of them were of the high-quality variety and Ottawa seemed more than happy to give them the shots from distance and from the outside as time ticked away.
The Blue Jackets’ were given a chance to really make things interesting around the midway mark of the period. Jakob Cychrun took a return trip to the penalty box after hauling down Kirill Marchenko in the corner, and then roughed him up knocking off his helmet in the process.
Sadly, the opposite happened. Nick Blankenburg was walking the blue line with the puck and was clearly tripped by Mathieu Joseph, losing his skate blade in the process. Tim Stutzle picked up the puck and walked in all alone on Hutchinson and beat him five hole for the 5-2 lead.
5-2 OTT (Stutzle unassisted)
To add insult to injury, Blankenburg fell while skating to the bench, bouncing his head off ice. He left the bench briefly, but thankfully was not injured and returned shortly after.
At this point, both teams knew the game was over. The fans were buzzing with a “We want playoffs!” chant, and they deserve it. They have won five in a row, and with Pittsburgh’s loss tonight, they are that much closer to getting their wish.
FInal 5-2 OTT
The Jackets stay on the road and head to Pittsburgh to take on big brother, Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins are fighting for every point, attempting to maintain their place as the final wildcard team in the Eastern Conference. The puck drops at 7pm on Tuesday night.