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Game #64 Recap: Sleepy start dooms Blue Jackets

Feb 24, 2024; San Jose, California, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Kiefer Sherwood (44) controls the puck during the third period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

This afternoon featured a game between two teams heading in opposite directions: the Nashville Predators are comfortably in a wild card spot in the West and are on a 9-0-1 run, while the Columbus Blue Jackets were less than 24 hours from trading away Jack Roslovic and Andrew Peeke. Trey Fix-Wolansky was called up from Cleveland, but Justin Danforth was a late scratch with illness, leaving the Jackets with just 17 skaters.

First Period

Mathieu Olivier took a penalty on the first shift, and while the Jackets only allowed one shot on goal during the power play, Nashville gained the early momentum and controlled the period from there.

The first goal was scored by New Albany native Kiefer Sherwood, who made a nice steal in his own end then beat Zach Werenski down the ice. Daniil Tarasov was in position but somehow the puck got through.

The Predators had 17 shots on goal before the Jackets got their first one, and that didn’t come until 15:12 into the period. Even then, that shot was one from just inside center ice that happened to land in front of the goal.

Fortunately, that was enough to wake the Jackets up. They got a quality chance off of the ensuing faceoff, then had the next 8 shots on goal to end the period. At the intermission, the total shot attempts were just 23-18 in Nashville’s favor. Not as bad as it could have been given how the period started.

Second Period

The momentum carried through to the start of the second, and once again it was the Sillinger line that provided the answer. Ivan Provorov fired a long shot on goal and Alexandre Texier was perfectly positioned for the rebound. That’s his 10th goal of the year (one away from his career best) and extended a five game point streak.

Nashville had two more power plays and Columbus had one, but neither team got many chances, and in fact gave up short-handed chances the other way.

At one point the Blue Jackets appeared to have the go-ahead goal from Boone Jenner, but it was immediately waved off due to his stick being higher than the crossbar. Replay confirmed this was correct.

Third Period

Early in the third, the Predators got their game-winning goal and it was very similar to their first: a breakaway off of a defensive zone turnover, with a snipe from the right circle. In this case, Luke Evangelista snuck behind Jake Bean and received a long pass. Adam Boqvist couldn’t get over in time to defend and Evangelista found a spot in the high corner over Tarasov’s glove.

In the final 1:52 with Tarasov pulled, the Jackets got some good looks but that was the most push they showed in the final period.

Final Thoughts

The Jackets had 3.98 expected goals, but several of those prime chances saw the puck go just high or wide, or off of the post (at least 4 hit iron). That being said, it felt like Nashville controlled the whole game besides the last five minutes of the first period and last two minutes of the third.

Credit to Tarasov for setting a career high with 47 saves. He kept this team in the game on a day when he got little help. I’m sure he’d like those goals back, however. He had a clean look at both.

The top line was the best from a possession standpoint, with Yegor Chinakhov fitting in nicely with Boone Jenner and Johnny Gaudreau.

The underlying numbers don’t look great for Trey Fix-Wolansky but in the second period there were some nice shifts with Dmitri Voronkov and Kirill Marchenko. If they get a few more games and practices to build chemistry, I think they can click. He has the speed and puck skill to make an impact. I’m excited for him to get an extended look at the NHL level. He has earned it with his play in the AHL.

Up Next

The Blue Jackets play on Tuesday night in Montreal.