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Game #60 Recap: Jackets dominate Blackhawks on the road

Mar 2, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Cole Sillinger (4) celebrates after scoring against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

We have seen this Blue Jackets team struggle against bad teams at times this season. The Blackhawks came into this game having won only one of their last ten games. You would like to see the Jackets come out and dominate this kind of game. Fortunately, they did. Here’s what happened.

1st Period

It didn’t take long for the Jackets to take the lead. Less than a minute in, Seth Jones coughed up a turnover to Texier in the high slot. The Frenchman had help but opted to take it upon himself to beat Soderblom.

CBJ Goal 1-0: Texier (unassisted) 0:33

Werenski nearly scored after a nice shift by the Sillinger line. Nylander skated the puck from behind the net and found Werenski on the back door. Soderblom got over quickly, and Werenski hit the outside of the net.

Jenner made it 2-0 when he deflected a Werenski point shot. It was Jenner’s fifth tip goal of the season.

CBJ Goal 2-0: Jenner (Werenski, Roslovic) 14:05

The Jackets were playing well up until they gave up a late goal. Nylander had the puck in the corner and coughed up the puck when he got bodied by Bedard. It looked like there may have been a bit of a trip involved. Bedard quickly passed it to Kurashev, who gave Elvis no shot at making the save.

CHI Goal 2-1: Kurashev (Bedard, Donato) 17:32

Seconds later, Gudbranson got called for holding Dickinson while defending a breakaway. It was a bogus call, to be honest – Gudbranson played it well. Fortunately, a horrible Blackhawk power play was easily killed off.

The Jackets looked like the better team in the first period. The Sillinger and Kuraly lines picked up where they left off in the last game and played well. The Troika line looked much better but was the least used line in the first 20 minutes.

2nd Period

Olivier has been playing very well recently and finally got rewarded early in the second. Werenski skated the puck out from the wall and shoveled the puck toward the net. Olivier swept the puck past Soderblom with a strong backhand.

CBJ Goal 3-1: Olivier (Werenski) 3:09

Severson went to the box for tripping after he and the Russian line got pinned in their own zone. The Blackhawks were able to generate a few decent looks before Jones got a tripping penalty that nullified the rest of the power play.

The shortened power play the Jackets received wasn’t very impressive. They struggled to hold onto the puck long enough to get a cycle going.

Sillinger bagged his third goal in three games to make it 4-1. Bedard blocked a shot and went down in a heap to make it 5-on-4. Nylander skated the puck behind the net and made a nice feed to Sillinger, who snapped a quick shot past Soderblom. The near-instant chemistry between Sillinger and Nylander has been fun to watch.

CBJ Goal 4-1: Sillinger (Nylander, Boqvist) 11:49

The Blackhawks went back to the power play after Provorov hooked Donato. Once again, the Jackets were able to kill off the penalty – this time with some help from Elvis.

It was all Blue Jackets at 5v5 in the second period. They won the shot attempt battle 25-12 and doubled Chicago’s shots on net 12-6.

3rd Period

Chicago cut the lead on some sloppy Columbus defensive play. Bean got burned by a loose puck in the neutral zone and allowed Kurashev a semi-breakaway. Kurashev missed the shot, but the puck bounced off the wall and back toward the net. No one checked for trailing Blackhawks, and Donato was allowed to tuck the puck home. Bad defense all around.

CHI Goal 4-2: Donato (Kurashev, Vlasic) 6:18

Jones, having a bad night, went back to the penalty box when he tripped Gaudreau. Fortunately for him, the Jackets weren’t able to produce much with the man advantage.

Gaudreau iced the game with an empty netter with two and a half minutes left.

CBJ EN Goal 5-2: Gaudreau (Roslovic) 17:35

Team Leaders

Points: Roslovic, Werenski (2)
5v5 CF%: Gaudreau (79.17)
5v5 xGF%: Nylander (67.60)
Shot attempts: Sillinger (6)
Shots: Sillinger (3)

Final Thoughts

Aside from one major defensive breakdown, the Jackets dominated this game. That’s exactly what you want to see from this team right now.

Elvis saved 1.22 goals above expected and recorded a .926 save percentage. He’s been solid in more games than not in recent memory. Given how inconsistent Tarasov has been, I’m not sure how you could justify trading Merzlikins right now.

Alex Nylander has bounced around the NHL in his short career and hasn’t lived up to his eighth overall draft position. That said, he’s looked like an NHL player so far in his short stint in Columbus. He has 1-2-3 in 4 games and led the team in 5v5 xGF% in this game. He’s already developed an obvious chemistry with Sillinger.

Speaking of Sillinger, we’ve seen glimpses this season of what he can be. He’s been arguably the best Columbus forward in the last three games. Here’s to hoping he can eventually figure out how to play like this more consistently.

Stick taps to Kuraly for playing his 200th game as a Blue Jacket. Time flies.

Up Next

The Vegas Golden Knights visit Nationwide Arena Monday night at 7:00 PM ET.