Game #53 Recap: Blue Jackets Pick Up Another Western Win Over Coyotes, 4-2

That’s two thus far, Shooter

The Columbus Blue Jackets picked up their second straight win by clamping down on a struggling Arizona Coyotes club on Thursday night at Gila River Arena, receiving scoring from some unlikely sources en route to a 4-2 win.

Lukas Sedlak and David Savard helped the visitors jump to a 2-0 lead in the first. Quick goals from Jordan Oesterle and Conor Garland tied the game in the second, but Josh Anderson (PP) and Boone Jenner put the CBJ in front for good and extended the Coyotes’ losing streak to five straight games.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves on 31 shots. The Blue Jackets scored once on two power plays and killed all three Arizona penalties while dominating in the faceoff circle, 64 to 36 percent. The Jackets enjoyed a healthy possession and flow advantage in the first while doing enough to get the win despite ceding ground the rest of the way

First Period

The Blue Jackets turned in a great road start, scoring just 3:02 into the game. Former CBJ Kevin Connauton lost control of the puck and three Coyotes failed to clear a rebound, allowing Lukas Sedlak to swoop in and jam it home:

Blue Jackets 1, Coyotes 0, 16:57 left in the first period

Riley Nash was initially credited with an assist, but it was changed to Markus Hannikainen a few minutes later. Poor guy.

Columbus received a power play less than 30 seconds after the goal on a Niklas Hjalmarsson hooking penalty, but couldn’t convert on two shots. Despite the missed opportunity, the visitors held a 9-1 shot lead five minutes into the contest.

The Coyotes evened out play a little bit as the period progressed, though they couldn’t keep the Blue Jackets off the board again. A late-period Jenner faceoff win found its way to David Savard, who pump faked and shot past a beautiful Jenner screen to extend the CBJ lead to 2-0 with 2:47 left to play before intermission.

Blue Jackets 2, Coyotes 0, 2:47 left in the first period

Columbus held a 17-9 shot edge in the first period, along with 6-1 scoring chances and 17-7 faceoff wins (thanks in part to Pierre-Luc Dubois going 6-for-7 in the dot).

Second Period

The CBJ backslid a little in the momentum department to start the second and allowed Arizona back in the game.

The Coyotes cut the lead in half a little over four minutes into the second. Scott Harrington ran into some trouble getting the puck out of the CBJ zone and turned the puck over to the Coyotes. Jordan Oesterle skated right through the faceoff dots with zero trouble and sniped a shot over Bob’s glove to make the score 2-1.

Blue Jackets 2, Coyotes 1, 15:40 left in the second period

Conor Garland tied the game less than two minutes later. Garland flew the Arizona zone and took a pass at center ice, speeding in alone and burying a shot past Bob for a 2-2 score. Ugh.

Blue Jackets 2, Coyotes 2, 13:57 left in the second period

Columbus caught a break when Clayton Fischer went off for hooking Alexander Wennberg, setting up an important power play. The PP has shown signs of life with the addition of special consultant Martin St. Louis, and Josh Anderson (upon further review) helped take advantage by deflecting a fluttering Seth Jones shot in for a 3-2 lead.

Blue Jackets 3, Coyotes 2, 9:36 left in the second period

Wennberg picked up his 21st assist of the season on that goal, by the way.

Anthony Duclair took a (not great) hooking penalty at 13:26 to give the Coyotes their first man advantage of the game. The situation carried the obvious risk of giving Arizona momentum right back, but the Blue Jackets were able to grind out a kill without incident.

Oliver Bjorkstrand narrowly missed a wraparound that had Darcy Kuemper beat late in the second. Arizona didn’t score either, though, and the score remained 3-2 after two periods.

Third Period

Boone Jenner put the Blue Jackets in an uncomfortable spot just 27 seconds into the period by taking a tripping penalty for a Coyotes PP. Luckily for the visitors, the CBJ withstood the Coyotes setting up shop for over a minute and killed the penalty without a shot on the board.

Arizona defenseman Kyle Capobianco suffered a nasty-looking right leg injury midway through the frame after a Nick Foligno hit into the boards. It’s a tough break for the already injury-plagued Coyotes, who had to play the final 12 minutes of regulation with five defensemen.

The Coyotes had their chances. A net-front scramble came to an end when Bob drove on the loose puck like a grenade shortly before a Josh Archibald shot clanged off the post.

Good teams find a way to make their opponents pay for missed chances, however, and Boone Jenner did just that with 6:08 to play. Kuemper played a loose puck away from the net that bounced around the faceoff dot in front of Jenner, whose quick shot beat Kuemper five-hole for a 4-2 Columbus lead.

Blue Jackets 4, Coyotes 2, 6:08 left in the third period

The Coyotes pulled Kuemper at 2:30, setting up a frantic finish that saw a big Bob toe stop standing up and a Hail Mary Josh Anderson empty net chance. The final drama came as Zach Werenski headed off for tripping Clayton Keller with :39.2 to go, prompting Arizona to take its timeout.

The PK—the best in the league since October 14, as noted by William Chase in the preview—lived up to its billing to ensure the Columbus win, 4-2.

Final Thoughts

  • Two wins on a Western road trip will cure some of what ails the Jackets. A sweep with a Vegas win on Saturday night would be even better.
  • The top line of Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson didn’t play for the final 10 minutes. It’s a good sign for the Blue Jackets that they didn’t need to. Start your wild Bread speculation.
  • Alex Wennberg has four points in his last four games. He’s back, baby.
  • Josh Anderson’s been hot too, scoring three goals in his last four.
  • The two goals Bob gave up weren’t fantastic, but he stopped the rest of ‘em. Not vintage Bob, though nobody’s turning down a .935 save percentage.
  • Special teams win games.
  • Good all-around performance tonight. No real standout player—though Boone Jenner was a wrecking ball and deserved a goal for his effort—and solid production from the bottom six. Encouraging signs heading into the final few weeks before the deadline.
  • Every other game on Thursday featuring a Metropolitan Division team went into overtime, because why not?/

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