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Game 8 Recap: Back on Track

Curtis McElhinney made his first start of the season, and he was terrific. The Jackets were a mess defensively in the first period, and they were very lucky to go into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead after bring out-shot 13-2.

The goal was scored by Marian Gaborik, his third of the season. It was a deflection after a shot by Artem Anisimov, who is looking better and better on the top line. I’m very much in favor of this duo sticking together going forward.

1-0 Columbus: Gaborik- Anisimov, Wisniewski

The second period started much like the first, with more chaos in the defensive zone. Things did clean up as the period wore on. At one point there was a brief scary incident with the fourth line on the ice. Derek MacKenzie fired a slapper as he entered the zone, but the puck nailed Jared Boll in the ankle. Boll initially went to the ice, sliding into the end boards, but he managed to get to his feet. You knew he was pissed off because seconds later, he gathered the puck, and put all he had into a slap shot from a terrible angle on Vancouver starter Eddie Lack. He’d be ok.

For most of the middle part of the second period, teams alternated penalties while up a man. First, Nick Foligno was sent to the box on a weak hooking call. While in the box, the Canucks were called for too many men on the ice, and then Ryan Murray was called for hooking. The Canucks would score to tie the game with seconds left on the Murray penalty. There was a scrum in front of McElhinney, and the puck was under his body. The pile was pushed back into the net, with the puck sliding out from McElhinney’s gear and over the goal line. Why the ref didn’t blow the whistle when he lost sight of the puck, we’ll never know.

1-1: H. Sedin- Garrison, Kesler

Later in the period, the Jackets were given a golden opportunity to take the lead, when the Canucks committed delay of game penalties just seconds apart, with Mike Santorelli and Alexander Edler both shooting the puck over the glass. While on the man advantage, the Jackets were far too cute with the puck, and failed to score. We all see James Wisniewski struggling this season five-on-five, but to see him struggle on the powerplay- where he’s most comfortable- is most troubling.

With 8.6 seconds left in the period, Kevin Bieksa was sent to the box for tripping. The Jackets looked disjointed and uninterested to start the third, even though they were up a man. They couldn’t get out of their own way.

Led by Ryan Johansen, the home team started to tilt the ice in their favor. He was great all night, but with 8:46 left he showcased his fantastic playmaking ability, feeding R.J. Umberger with a perfect pass through traffic. Umby made no mistake in potting his first of the year.

2-1 Jackets: Umberger- Johansen, Prout

The intensity from both teams really ramped up after that goal, and the Canucks pulled Lack. Chris Higgins had a golden chance to tie the game late, but McElhinney came up with a huge pad save to maintain the lead. With the Vancouver net empty, Johansen was sent in alone to ice the game, a fitting reward for a player who had a great game.

3-1 Jackets: Johansen- Umberger

Final Score: 3-1 Jackets

Standard Bearers:

  • Ryan Johansen was all over the ice, making plays and scoring the back-breaking empty netter.
  • Curtis McElhinney was terrific.
  • Cam Atkinson, though he didn’t factor into the scoring, really brought it again tonight.

Bottom of the Barrel:

The Jackets were lucky to get the win tonight, given how sloppy they played in the first period.
The powerplay was completely out of sync tonight.

The Jackets are back at it on Tuesday against the Devils.