Game 34 Recap: Fizzle
Despite the Blue Jackets getting over their goal scoring issues against the Edmonton Oilers, a controversial waved off goal and some major defensive mistakes would lead to a late game collapse.
"I thought you might be worried... about the security... of your shit."
With the Jackets losing Nick Foligno to injury, head coach Todd Richards made the decision to use 7 D and bring callup Sean Collins into the lineup, which sounds reasonable when facing the Oilers, but the first red flag might have been the decision to scratch John Moore, one of the few defensemen with the foot speed to match against Hall, Eberle, et al, and use Adrian Aucoin alongside the returning James Wisniewski.
Despite that, the Jackets started well, with Cam Atkinson converting a gorgeous setup from Matt Calvert in the opening seconds (yes, really, SECONDS) of the game to put the Jackets up early, and Cam returning the favor midway through the period to set up Calvert to extend the lead to 2-0.
A few minutes later, James Wisniewski would attempt to send a pass across the ice inside the Jackets' zone, but Sam Gagner would intercept the puck right at the boards, picking it up and setting up Magnus Paarjavi to cut the lead in half.
Things got a bit hectic when Artem Anisimov was called for a trip on Ales Hemsky (despite not actually touching Hemsky, since the Edmonton forward had lost his footing and was in the process of trying to avoid Anisimov when he fell over without actually making contact with anyone), but the PK remained solid, preserving the lead into intermission.
Starting the second period, Cam Atkinson nearly extended the lead once again with a shot that nearly went in off Khabibulin's shoulder, but the Oilers would take the puck back up the ice and tie the game thanks to Jordan Eberle driving straight through the defense.
It appeared that Matt Calvert would give the Jackets back the lead when he managed to send the puck into the net DESPITE being knocked over by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but despite the goal showing no signs of a kicking motion, the goal would be waived off by the war room. (I'm not bitter, but how is that a "distinct kicking motion" when the player has no control over his legs, compared to this apparently perfectly legal goal by Evgeni Malkin against Winnipeg tonight? No, wait, actually, I am bitter. Gotta love "Rule 614.")
Despite the frustrations after the no-goal, the 13-42-11 line came back with a vengeance, with Nikita Nikitin setting up Anisimov with a great stretch pass and starting a solid swarm attack before a snipe from the faceoff dot.
Unfortunately, the ArtyParty would be quite short - Shawn Horcoff would tie the game in the final minute of regulation when Ryan Jones blasted by Vinny Prospal, then sent a pass to Nail Yakupov for a shot opportunity, and Fedor Tyutin failed to cover Horcoff as the third man in, leaving him wide open to bury the rebound.
In spite of THAT, the Jackets would come out firing to start the third period, and Cam Atkinson would bury his second of the night before most of the Edmonton Fans were back in their seats. That goal also signaled the end of the night for Khabibulin, who was replaced by Devan Dubnyk.
Unfortunately, they were all back and loaded with a fresh beer in time to see Corey Potter tie the game again on a shot from the blue line that Bob wasn't able to stop - and perhaps Bob should have been traded out for Mason at that point, too, but Richards made the decision to stick with the one who brung him.
For most of the third period, the Jackets looked to crack Dubnyk, and in the final minutes it looked like Cam Atkinson would complete his hat trick, but joy turned to wails when the puck went off the post and triggered an end to end rush that saw Ales Hemsky blow through every Blue Jacket on the ice for his 376th goal against Columbus in the last three years, and Edmonton's first lead of the night.
The Jackets tried to find an equalizer, but unfortunately it simply wouldn't happen, and Sam Gagner would golf home an empty netter with under a minute left to put the lid onto the coffin.
Final Score: Jackets 4 - Oilers 6
- Cam Atkinson / Matt Calvert / Artem Anisimov - I could look at them individually, but the truth is that these were our best players tonight by a country mile. Nobody else even came close.
- Jared Boll - Honorable mention for a pretty impressive donnybrook with Mike Brown, but on the other hand I wonder if there was ANY point to indulging his request for a tilt when the game was tied and still quite up in the air?
Bottom Of The Barrel:
- Defense - As I mentioned, I don't get the decision to sit John Moore when the Jackets are facing one of the speediest teams in the league, and I think it contributed a lot to the way Columbus got torched tonight.
- Power Play - Twice Columbus had the opportunity to score with the man advantage and take control of the game, and not a single shot hit the net.
- James Wisniewski - Sorry, Wiz. Glad to have you back, and some rust is understandable, but when you cough it up directly into a goal? Not acceptable.
I want to look on the bright side - after all, it can't hurt the Jackets' draft position, and remarkably St. Louis and Nashville both lost, so Columbus is, in theory, still only three points back of the 8th seed, but this was a frustrating game. Even discounting the waived off goal, the Jackets had a lead in this game three different times, and they let Edmonton come back and respond. They couldn't play with the lead, and they couldn't take advantage of the fact that Khabibulin was leaking like a $1 colander. The only line that put pressure on, consistently, was the Cam/AA/Calvert line, and the rest of the team barely got the puck to the net. No matter how well or how badly Sergei Bobrovsky plays, Columbus doesn't have the talent to get away with being a one line team.
It's time for everyone to put their weight behind the team, or for JD and Jarmo to start shipping out the ones who can't.
Tomorrow night, the Jackets have a chance to salvage a couple points from the Flames. Three points from the road trip isn't great, but it's better than one.
The team found some offense tonight. If they can balance that with the defense they showed on Tuesday, it's at least a fighting chance.