Game #62: Oh Captain, My Captain
Fligs carries the flag for Columbus
Heading into their third game in four nights, the Columbus Blue Jackets looked to carry on with the momentum the team had developed since the All Star Break (and the coffee mug’s appearance). Joonas Korpisalo made his 13th appearance in 14 games as he took back control of the net from Curtis McElhinney. Justin Falk cleared waivers, David Clarkson resumed skating, and the team hoped to continue on its solid run of play recently.
Special stick taps to Brandon Dubinsky, who was scheduled to play in his 600th career NHL game against the Devils.
FIRST PERIOD- TAKING CONTROL
The first period, suffice it to say, was controlled by the Blue Jackets. New Jersey came out looking to play their heavy defensive style, and the Blue Jackets attacked early. After an early feeling out period, the captain finally got on the scoreboard and put the Blue Jackets in front early.
Nick Foligno was waiting on the doorstep, and was able to redirect a feed from Matt Calvert home at 5:20 for his 7th of the season. Just 3 minutes later, the captain found the net again. From Matt Calvert’s hustle which led to a spinning backhand, Foligno was able to bank a shot in off of Cory Schnieder for his second of the night and a 2-0 lead.
After the second goal, an agitated Jordin Tootoo fought Gregory Campbell. There would be end to end action through the end of the period, until, with minute left, the Jackets would score again. Brandon Saad (kneel) tied his career high with his 23rd goal of the season, again off of a nice play by Matt Calvert.
Matt Calvert had an excellent period. He became only the second NHL player this season to tally 3 primary assists in a single period, following Evgeni Kuznetsov who ironically did it against the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this year.
SECOND PERIOD- KORPISALO STANDS TALL, FOLIGNO TAKES OVER
The headline really says it all. Despite getting horrifically outshot, Columbus’ netminder Joonas Korpisalo stood on his head to keep the Blue Jackets in the game. The Devils replaced Schnieder with Keith Kinkaid and absolutely refused to test him at all.
The Devils had managed to pull one back early as Reid Boucher redirected a goalmouth feed home. The Devils also saw a goal called back for "intent to blow" as Korpisalo made a save on a John Moore shot.
Nick Foligno had himself a night. He was handsomely rewarded with his hat trick goal at the 13:32 mark of the second period. The fans didn’t even realize it initially but eventually the hats flew toward the ice at Nationwide. Minutes later, he would find his 4th point of the night, his first career 4 point game. After Joseph Blandesi went off for hooking, Nick Foligno found Brandon Dubinsky with a backhand feed from the crease, and Dubinsky wasted no time burying the shot in his 600th NHL game.
THIRD PERIOD- FINISHING THE DRILL
Not much action in the third period, all things considered. Some end to end action, but neither team really threatened the opponent goal.
Of note in the third period, Jack Johnson would not return with an upper body injury. With the activation of Clarkson and sending Falk to Lake Erie, Columbus was now carrying six healthy defensemen.
David Savard did level Jordin Tootoo at the midway point of the period, which is always a welcome thing. He’s been a pest since his days in Nashville.
Rene Bourque scored a sixth for the club at the 18:59 mark to cap a stellar night.
FINAL: Columbus Blue Jackets 6 New Jersey Devils 1
Nick Foligno had an excellent night. He’s struggled, pressed, fought the puck all season, and tonight scored what he called "the ugliest hat trick ever." They all count though, and I am happy to see the captain lead the way. I’ve been overly critical of the captain this season, and he delivered like it was last season tonight.
Joonas Korpisalo made some outstanding saves to keep the score at 3-1 when the Devils pressed hard.
Please get well, Jack Johnson.
Matt Calvert led the Blue Jackets in chances generated tonight, becoming the first Blue Jacket to record 3 primary assists in one period since Alexander Svitov in 2007.
The Blue Jackets next take on the Florida Panthers at home at Nationwide Arena. Faceoff is Saturday, February 27th at 3:00 PM EST. Win one for me on my birthday!