Game 6(X) Recap: Southern Fried Shutout
The Blue Jackets sent a young lineup down to Nashville - perhaps a last opportunity for guys on the bubble to make an impression - and they did not disappoint.
On paper, this game looked like another rough outing for the Blue Jackets, who were coming off a hard fought loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday.
The Nashville Predators had a veteran heavy lineup, lead by goaltender Pekka Rinne, while Columbus sent a squad that had some veteran presence, but was mostly geared to give the remaining "bubble" guys in camp a chance to prove themselves.
But as is often said, they don't play these games on paper.
The first period was a rough one for the Union Blue. Unable to generate much offensive pressure, they were fortunate to have Curtis McElhinney on his game early, particularly since they spent almost a third of the period on the PK.
Special teams was actually the early story in this one - when Columbus finally got their own power play late in the first period, Nick Foligno would deliver a perfect setup pass to Artem Anisimov, who sniped his first goal of the preseason on the Jackets' third shot of the game.
Despite being outshot 12-3 in the first period, the Jackets took the lone goal into the second period, and never looked back.
Nashville had an opportunity to equalize early on when Alexander Wennberg was called for interference, but instead the Columbus PK counterattacked perfectly, with Nick Foligno and James Wisniewski breaking out on a shorthanded rush, and another beautiful pass setting up a thunderous blast from the Wiz to give them team a 2-0 lead.
After the shorthanded goal, the Jackets became more aggressive, turning up the physical play and finally getting pucks to the net, though Rinne would keep these out. Outshooting the Predators 13-8 for the period, Columbus still trailed 20-16 overall, but it was clear the ice had tilted against the home team heading into the final frame.
Columbus nearly extended the lead to 3-0 early when Jerry D'Amigo drew a penalty in the opening minutes of the third period. Scott Hartnell was denied his first goal as a Jacket after Rinne made a point blank save after a series of bang-bang passes ended with Hartnell attempting a redirect at the top of the crease.
Despite coming up short on the power play, though, the Jackets would still find that third goal...and it had Jared Boll's name written all over it.
Going to the net, Boll was in the right place at the right time to redirect a shot from Fedor Tyutin, slamming it past Rinne for the 3-0 lead.
From there on out, the Jackets went into lockdown, and though Nashville had a few more chances, the combination of McElhinney's solid goaltending and a strong performance from the defense was more than enough to carry the day.
Final Score: Jackets 3 - Predators 0
- Curtis McElhinney - What a great performance. 36 up, 36 down. With the injuries and issues this team is facing to start the season, good goaltending is going to be essential, and it looks like Bob and C-Mac are both stepping up to the plate.
- Nick Foligno - Racking up over 17 minutes tonight, second only to Anisimov among forwards, Foligno was hitting, hustling, and setting things up all over the ice. The two goals he factored in on both came down to his passes putting the puck exactly where it needed to be.
- The Kids - Going into Nashville, even in the preseason, isn't an easy task for anyone. Guys like Chaput, Wennberg, Erixon, Rychel, and Dano stepped up to the challenge tonight. Great work./
Skipping the BotB tonight, because going off radio calls isn't terribly conducive, and for god's sake, they won 3-0. There's a point where you're just nitpicking.
After a day with several pieces of bad news, it's nice to end it on a positive note. The Jackets are expected to make additional roster cuts tomorrow, and will be back in action Wednesday night at home against Carolina.