Game #45 Recap: Blue Jackets and Rangers honor Rick Nash with 12 goal game

Columbus prevails, but it’s not easy

It was a special night at Nationwide Arena, as both the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers honored the career of the recently retired Rick Nash. Nash played 9 years with the Jackets and almost 6 years with the Rangers. He scored 437 goals in his career, and the teams responded by scoring 12 tonight in a 7-5 Blue Jackets victory.

Side note on the pregame celebration: I got more emotional than I expected watching the highlight video the CBJ staff put together. Nash is two weeks younger than me and it really hit me to see how much he had changed since he was drafted, and to see him with his family.

But one thing bothered me: any time some dignitary does a ceremonial puck drop, they usually wear a Columbus sweater. Nash just wore his suit. I can cut him a little slack; he played with more of these Rangers than these Jackets so it would be awkward to wear a different jersey in front of his friends. But if he can’t be bothered to wear a Columbus jersey now, why should anyone be quick to retire that jersey now? Maybe I’ll feel differently several years down the line, but that aspect just reminded me how Nash wanted out of this organization and how part of him sees himself as a Ranger as much as a Blue Jacket.

As for the game: both teams were on the second leg of a back-to-back, and both turned to their backup goalies in Alexandar Georgiev and Sergei Bobrovsky.

The Rangers opened the scoring at the 4:34 mark. Jesper Fast was able to win a battle along the wall over Markus Nutivaara, and got the puck to a streaking Filip Chytil. Chytil then passed across the crease to Ryan Strome for the goal.

Only 34 seconds elapsed before the Jackets responded. It was an offensive zone faceoff, and Pierre-Luc Dubois got a piece of it. Cam Atkinson the battled for possession and passed  to Artemi Panarin, who buried the one-timer:

After this came a Columbus power play, and the recorded 5 shots on goal. No scoring, but that’s progress.

The good guys took the lead thanks to a great play by Anthony Duclair. Thanks to another great outlet pass by Markus Nutivaara, Duke got the puck and was off to the races. He had a Ranger in his hip pocket, but muscled his way towards the net and popped it top shelf over the glove of Georgiev.

Duclair has been playing hard lately and it has been paying off.

Before the end of the period, there was a 4-on-4 and Chris Kreider poked his stick at a loose puck and got a tying goal. Kreider has scored a lot against Columbus and I hate him.

The Rangers went to intermission tied, but it was a dominant period for Columbus. At even strength, the Jackets were up 18-10 in CF and 15-8 in FF, with a 6-2 lead in high danger shot attempts.

The Jackets got a lot of power play time early in the second, but after that good PP in the first, these were a return to form. Just 1 shot in 3:52 of a man advantage. Barf.

The good news is the PK was still good. Josh Anderson and Boone Jenner went to the box on back-to-back penalties, and despite those two adept killers being unavailable, the PK killed off the 5-on-3 and the rest of the penalty as well. Big props to Seth Jones, David Savard, and Nick Foligno for the bulk of that 5-on-3 kill.

After the kill, the Jackets got another goal right off a faceoff. Again, Dubois won it. This time Jones recovered the puck and tapped it over to Zach Werenski. Z fired from the blue line and Atkinson deflected the puck in front of the goal.

As we reached the waning minutes of the middle frame, the fourth line came through to extend the Jackets’ lead. This time it was Riley Nash winning the board battle, and he passed it over to Oliver BJORKSTRAND. Bjorky set up behind the net and passed into the slot, where Lukas Sedlak was waiting for it.

Unfortunately, the Rangers responded with a faceoff goal of their own. This one came from Mats Zuccarello:

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: We got that two goal lead back after all with two seconds remaining. A Josh Anderson attempt got deflected, but it led to a Ryan Murray shot which Nick Foligno tipped in:

It was another dominant period at even strength, with a 20-14 advantage in CF, 14-11 in FF, and 4-0 lead in high danger shot attempts.

Five minutes into the third, the Jackets padded their lead with a goal from...David Savard? Yeah, it was that kind of game. Breadman won a puck battle and made a nice pass from behind the goal. The Rangers had completely lost track of Savard and he was wide open. His shot was pretty nice:

For awhile, it seemed as though the Jackets could comfortably skate out this three goal lead. But New York had other ideas. With five minutes left, Scott Harrington tried to clear the puck up the wall, but there were only Rangers there. Kevin Shattenkirk’s shot was saved by Bob, but Zuccarello was set up behind the goal and got his second of the night by shooting the rebound off of Bob’s back into the goal. Did he call bank?

The Rangers weren’t done. Less than two minutes later, Bob made a couple saves in short succession, but the defense shifted too much to one side of the ice, leaving Jimmy Vesey unmarked. A pass from Brendan Smith got deflected by Brett Howden and Vesey scored on the wide open goal to bring the Rangers within one goal with 3:12 left.

Fortunately the Captain came through with the insurance goal. He went hard on the forecheck to chase the puck behind the goal, and battled several Rangers for the puck. Then he wrapped around the goal and sent the puck to the far side of Georgiev:

With this win, the Blue Jackets moved past Pittsburgh for second place in the Metro.

That is three straight wins, and four out of the last five. It’s difficult to play three games in four nights, and the Jackets just managed to win all three, including two overtime wins.

Sergei Bobrovsky got the win in his first start following his undisclosed infraction following the loss in Tampa. Most of the goals were not his fault, but allowing five goals on 27 shots just isn’t good enough. That’s the eighth time in 33 appearances that he as allowed four or more goals.

Tonight, John Tortorella coached his 284th game behind the Columbus bench. That ties him with Ken Hitchcock for the franchise lead. Kind of hard to believe he’s been around that long, yeah? Seems like just yesterday he was hired.

The Blue Jackets look to extend their win streak on Tuesday at home against the Devils.

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