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Game 55 Recap: CBJ overcome Tarasov injury scare as Werenski, Kuraly beat Ducks

Feb 21, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ivan Provorov (9) moves in for a shot on goal against Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (36) and left wing Alex Killorn (17) during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After a no-good, very bad game against the Kings, the Jackets moved down to the magical suburbs of Los Angeles to play the Anaheim Ducks. Here’s how that went.

First Period

To put it bluntly, one team dominated this period. One team went to the locker room up 3-0. The two teams doing this were not the same. Hockey is weird like that.

After the Ducks got the first three shots on goal, Zach Werenski would start the scoring off on a lucky bounce. Johnny Gaudreau led Columbus up the ice on a 3-on-2, shot the puck off John Gibson’s mask and Z’s foot and in. Sure!

BLUE JACKETS GOAL – Zach Werenski from Johnny Gaudreau and Jack Roslovic – 3:32 1st Period

Anaheim, however, remained unfazed, earning three of the next four shots on goal, dominating the Blue Jackets’ zone, and making sure Daniil Tarasov stayed sharp. And then the Jackets scored again, with Johnny Hockey undressing Gibson on a 2-on-1.

BLUE JACKETS GOAL – Johnny Gaudreau from Jake Bean – 9:32 1st Period

Anaheim, however, remained unfazed, earning four of the next six shots on goal, dominating the Blue Jackets’ zone, and making sure Daniil Tarasov stayed sharp. And the only reason they didn’t go 4-for-4 is because Cam Fowler took a cross-checking penalty against Kent Johnson, resulting in a barely-above-mediocre CBJ powerplay. You can guess what happened next.

BLUE JACKETS GOAL – Zach Werenski (2) from Boone Jenner and Jack Roslovic – 18:30 1st Period

Hockey is so weird, man.

Second Period

So the good news is, the Jackets played much better that period, and dominated the 16 minutes of play. It started with Gibson learning the First Law of Dangle: “If you’re a goaltender, tend the goal.” Mathieu Olivier also fought a guy.

BLUE JACKETS GOAL – Sean Kuraly from Alexandre Texier – 2:49 2nd Period

And then, Columbus poured on the gas, with some of the most dominant stretches of the season, and great shifts up and down the lineup. Troy Terry had one great individual effort, but aside from that, it was all Jackets. They got 12 of the first 17 shots in the period, despite having to kill a Cole Sillinger holding penalty. For once, it looked like they deserved to win a game.

DUCKS GOAL – Troy Terry from Urho Vaakanainen and Frank Vatrano – 9:07 2nd Period

And then everything went to hell. That’s the bad news.

It started with a truly unfortunate play, with Adam Boqvist jabbing Daniil Tarasov, with the former’s stick going through the latter’s mask, nailing him in or near the eye. Before the ref could blow the play dead for the injured goalie, the puck was in the net. Tarasov went to the locker room, Elvis Merzlikins came in cold, and two odd-man rushes later we had a tied game.

DUCKS GOAL – Mason McTavish from Troy Terry and Pavel Mintyukov – 16:05 2nd Period
DUCKS GOAL – Mason McTavish (2) from Troy Terry and Pavel Mintyukov (again) – 18:49 2nd Period
DUCKS 4-ON-4 GOAL – Alex Killorn from Leo Carlsson and Pavel Mintyukov – 19:36 2nd Period

Columbus nearly had another lucky-bounce goal on an abbreviated power play, but the puck stayed out of the net.

Third Period

After being attended to during the second intermission, Tarasov re-entered the game to start the third. With things back to normal, Columbus again ramped up the pressure, getting six of the first nine shots on goal to start the third. And two of them went in! First, Yegor Chinakhov recovered from a crash into the boards to regain the lead, with the help of some nifty passing from Johnny and Jenner, before Sean Kuraly earned his second of the night off a huge rebound in the right slot.

BLUE JACKETS GOAL – Yegor Chinakhov from Johnny Gaudreau and Boone Jenner – 6:50 3rd Period
BLUE JACKETS GOAL – Sean Kuraly (2) from Cole Sillinger and Alexandre Texier – 7:39 3rd Period

After that, the Jackets were content to play defense and run out the clock, as Anaheim got the next 11 shots on goal. This was aided by a pair of late penalties, as Erik Gudbranson went off with 4:41 left for delay of game, before Jack Roslovic was nabbed for tripping with 2:22 remaining. However, the Jackets penalty kill stood tall, going 100% on four chances against tonight, a nice turn from batting .500 over the last 24 attempts heading into the night. Jenner would ice the game with under a minute to go, winning the race to the puck before sliding it into the empty net.

BLUE JACKETS SHORT-HANDED EMPTY-NET GOAL – Boone Jenner from Damon Severson – 19:27 3rd Period

Jackets win, 7-4. All-in-all, that’s one of the more complete performances on the season for this team. Sure, they were taking advantage of shaky goaltending, and they let a 4-0 lead slip, but that was under extenuating circumstances. *Puts on Brian Hedger hat.* Tarasov was injured on the play for the 4-2 goal, and then Elvis got beat on a odd-man rush and a great passing play under three and a half minutes after coming into the game cold. Obviously you don’t want that to happen, but this is different than the other collapses this team has had. It’s also different in that they came out and dominated play immediately afterwards, before bunkering down and making sure the lead held firm.

Back at it Friday night to host the Sabres, as NWA turns into Margaritaville.