Blue Jackets blanked in their own barn

Jackets lose to Wild in uninspiring fashion

The Columbus Blue Jackets three game point streak was snapped tonight in a boring, 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild in front of a packed house at Nationwide Arena. It was a night in which the Wild weren’t even necessarily that good, but were more than good enough to keep the Blue Jackets’ offense at bay. Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 73rd career shutout, stopping all 30 shots he faced. Of those 30 shots, only a handful were high-quality. Joonas Korpisalo had another strong start, but with no “run support” it was all for naught. It was however, another night that should impress the scouts watching him.

Minnesota scored a pair of goals early and just hunkered down from there and made life difficult for the Jackets, and they by and large didn’t have an answer for the stout defensive game the Wild played for the latter half of the game.

Here’s how it went down (Sorry there are no highlights at all for this one)...

First Period

As we’ve seen so often this year, Joonas Korpisalo has been forced to be the Jackets best player to keep them in games. It started early tonight when Patrik Laine committed an egregious turnover in the defensive zone, sending a weak pass directly to Mats Zuccarello in front of the net. Zuccarello fed Kaprizov for a one-timer, but it was expertly anticipated by Korpi who made a sliding cross-crease save.

However, it was only two minutes later that Minnesota did find the back of the net. Brandon Duhaime swept home a puck as it danced on the blue line after a Frederick Gaudreau shot.

1-0 MIN (Duhaime from Gaudreau)

The lead was nearly doubled soon after, but once again it was Korpisalo denying Kaprizov in close with another nice glove save.

The third time was the charm for Kaprizov as his next shift saw him on an odd-man rush with Zuccarello. Kaprizov sold pass most of the way, but opted to wire a low shot that beat Korpisalo five hole.

2-0 MIN (Kaprizov from Middleton and Hartman)

With just over five minutes remaining in the period, Tim Berni sat for a high-sticking penalty, giving Minnesota a great opportunity to put the game away early by going up three goals. Liam Foudy had the best chance during the two minutes as he was nearly the beneficiary of Marc-Andre Fleury misplaying the puck, but Fleury was able to just barely recover with a poke check.

The period wound down with no further harm. Aside from being down a pair of goals, it wasn’t the worst period from the Blue Jackets. They actually led in shots, 13-8 and even more impressive won 20 of 23 faceoffs, but the fact that they made nothing out of this was unsurprising.

Second Period

The middle frame saw the Blue Jackets and Wild playing a lot of minutes in the neutral zone without much of note happening. The Blue Jackets didn’t appear any closer to actually putting the puck in the net, but they were playing a tight defensive game at this point, keeping the Wild limited to just a single shot for the first large stretch of play.

Eight minutes into the period the Blue Jackets headed to the power play with a chance to wake up their offense. As we’ve grown accustomed to, nothing was generated with arguably the best chance generated by the opposing team. No momentum was even gained from the power play, with Minnesota the team to pick up the pace after killing the penalty.

After having doubled up Minnesota in shots, the Wild closed the gap in the latter half of the period. Joonas Korpisalo made a couple of highlight reel saves as the Jackets were playing scrambly in front of him. The Jackets were just hoping to survive the period without surrendering a goal, but they were having trouble generating much of anything at all let alone exit the defensive zone.

The only real silver lining in this one was that Joonas Korpisalo continued to increase his trade value with yet another strong performance.

Third Period

Ideally a team entering the final frame of a game comes into it with the mindset of just throwing everything on net. That was not the case tonight as the Blue Jackets were held without a shot in the third period for the first eight-and-a-half minutes. The period was already almost halfway over by the time they registered their first shot.

This team — especially the top lines — are much too easy for opposing teams to render irrelevant. It was yet another game in which Johnny Gaudreau was largely ineffective, and Patrik Laine was downright bad.

The Blue Jackets had a grand total of one shot through the first 15 minutes of the period. Minnesota just shut the team down by clogging up lanes, and playing high pressure defense that seemed to fluster the Jackets’ offense.

Johnny Gaudreau almost created a scrambly goal off of a turnover with five minutes remaining in the game, bringing the crowd to their feet for once. Boone Jenner followed up a Gaudreau shot, creating a ruckus in front of the net,  but the Wild packed the crease and kept the puck out.

Shoutout to the nearly 18,000 fans in attendance on a Thursday night to support a last place team, only to witness an anemic offense get shutout. They even managed to muster a “C-B-J” chant in the dying minutes, trying to will their team to a goal.

Korpisalo left the net with just under three minutes remaining, but the Blue Jackets were unable to muster much, but did manage to keep the Wild off the board as well until time expired.

2-0 Final

Finally, for some good news. The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Washington Capitals tonight 4-2, putting the Blue Jackets back at the bottom of the standings by themselves.

Up Next

The Blue Jackets welcome Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers to Nationwide on Saturday at 12:30. Jackets fans will be treated to an afternoon watching the greatest player in the world potentially show his dominance.

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