Jackets Rally in OT, Win Streak Hits Four
Familiar faces visited Nationwide for a Metro Division showdown, and the Jackets welcomed back Brandon Dubinsky to the lineup. The CBJ looked to have a win locked down until a a video replay in the final minute awarded the Flyers the tying goal. In overtime, Kevin Connauton notched his first goal as
Newcomer Kevin Connauton scored his first goal as a Blue Jacket less than two minutes into overtime to give Columbus their fourth consecutive victory, the longest win streak of the season. Brandon Dubinsky made his debut and registered an assist in more than 19 minutes of ice time.
The Philadelphia Flyers came into Columbus off a road trip out West and, almost shockingly, Steve Mason made his first start in Columbus since being traded at the deadline in 2013. R.J. Umberger was also playing his first game at Nationwide since requesting a trade this past offseason - a tribute in the first period was met with a smattering of applause. Of course, former Blue Jacket Jakub Voracek joined them as well. (EDIT - Totally forgot Nick Schultz is on the Flyers squad as well)
For the Jackets, the team got a bit of a "pick-me-up" as vocal leader Brandon Dubinsky joined the ranks in making his season debut. He had missed the first 26 games recovering from abdominal and groin injuries which required surgery on October 8th. Kerby Rychel became the healthy scratch despite playing pretty well since getting called up and notching three assists in those four games. Kevin Connauton drew in opposite of James Wisniewski in place of Tim Erixon.
There were not a lot of chances early in the game as both teams struggled to register any shots. The Jackets did start to establish some possession and offensive pressure and at 11:37 drew the first power play after a Zac Rinaldo interference call. The power play unit immediately went to work and Boone Jenner got the puck below the faceoff circle to Mason's left. Jenner held the puck for a second and looked for a pass across the crease. He sent the puck towards the opposite faceoff circle, but a Philly defender (Coburn, I think) went to the ice to block such a pass. The puck bounced back right in front of Jenner while Mason was moving laterally to the far post where the puck would have gone. Instead, Jenner slammed home the puck into the open net for the early lead.
1-0 CBJ @ 12:34 - Boone Jenner (5) from Brandon Dubinsky and James Wisniewski PP
Boone now has goals in four consecutive games, all wins. Whether it's on the wing or in the middle, he is starting to find the back of the net at a nice pace. He has 5-5-10 in his 16 games played.
Philadelphia struggled to get much set up on the offensive end. The Jackets continued to pressure, but got a bit sloppy late in the period. They were able to kill of a two minute power play which came courtesy of a David Savard interference call. Corey Tropp went off at 17:05 for holding the stick, and it looked like perhaps he was trying too hard to sell a hooking call.
On the power play (as Dan noted in the preview, this needed to be avoided at all costs), Claude Giroux get around Wisniewski coming down the right side for a mini 2-on-1. Dalton Prout laid down to try to cut off the cross-ice pass but Giroux was still able to find Brayden Schenn who put the one-timer past Bobrovsky. It was Philadelphia's third shot on net to that point.
1-1 @ 17:53 - Brayden Schenn (8) from Claude Ciroux and Mark Streit PP
The teams went to the break tied at one, though the momentum seemed to have shift to Philadelphia's side. The Flyers had pushed back in the last five minutes or so and actually registered a few shots on net. On to the 2nd period it went.
The CBJ almost immediately went to the penalty kill to start the 2nd as Cam Atkinson was called for hooking. There were some good chances after the penalty was killed, including a 2-on-1 with Ryan Johansen and Jack Skille in which (stop me if you've heard this before) Joey looked for the pass that wasn't there and the chance ended with no shot on net. That almost exact same scenario also played out in the 3rd period.
Midway through the period Scott Laughton went to the box for holding and the CBJ power play was back on the ice. The top PP unit was on the ice for over a minute as a half as the Flyers simply could not clear and Mason could not cover up. The Jackets were pretty clearly trying to run their power play through Johansen along the half wall which resulted in a couple of close chances.
Johansen sent the puck behind the net and eventually it made it out top to Jack Johnson. He fired wide and then a bit of chaos ensued. Nick Foligno got his stick on the puck and it somehow made it to Scott Hartnell. Hartsy was in the slot with his back to the net. Meanwhile, a couple guys were crashing the net and a few had fallen to the ice. Looking at the replay, it was mainly Flyers defenders falling and seemingly blocking Mason from making a play. Hartnell took a whack at the puck and eventually backanded it past a flailing Mason. He and a couple other Flyers immediately began whining to the officials, looking for an interference call apparently.
2-1 CBJ @ 10:39 - Scott Hartnell (6) from Nick Foligno and Jack Johnson PP
Columbus had some momentum after the goal but could not find the insurance goal before the final frame. Dalton Prout went off with a sketchy tripping call but the penalty kill held serve. The Flyers had managed just 11 shots through two periods and this started to have the feel of a "classic" Jackets victory - jump on a lead and then tighten things up from the neutral zone back en route to the win.
The Jackets managed to stay out of the box in the final frame, but failed to put the hammer down on a couple of power play chances. The first power play chance of the period was not bad, but the second man advantage was pathetic. Simply put, it was Bobrovsky and not Mason who was under siege. Full on "turtle mode" had been engaged and the team appeared ready to just salt away the win.
The problem with this is that the opponent can step up and take some chances. Philly responded and started to push for the tying goal. It came with 55.3 seconds left in the game after a video review. The Flyers had called timeout, and upon resuming play most of the 14,196 in attendance rose to their feet. Off the faceoff, Voracek got the puck at the left point and fired a shot towards the net. The puck deflected off Schenn and it looked like Bob had saved it under his pads as he was sliding to his right. The official blew his whistle and raised his arms, but the puck had trickled just inches across the line.
You can read the NHL's explanation here. After the review, the Flyers were awarded the tying goal.
2-2 @ 19:04 - Brayden Schenn (9) from Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier
Some of the air was gone as the Jackets surrendered a point in the final minute. In the interviews after the game though, many of the guys said they weren't down and that the focus turned to simply getting that second point. There was a few back and forths, but then the Jackets got pinned in their own zone. They finally cleared and it appeared it was going to be a regular line change for both sides.
Instead, Johansen picked up the puck, gassed at the end of his shift, and skated into the Flyers zone. Defenseman Kevin Connauton jumped up into the play instead of heading off for a change. Johansen passed to his right and the 2-on-1 pass connected this time. Connauton wasted no time in ending this one. Thin Mints. Chili. Cannon. Boom.
3-2 FINAL CBJ @ 1:58 - Kevin Connauton (1) from Ryan Johansen
It wasn't pretty at the end of the 3rd period, but the Jackets continue the win streak. Todd Richards probably relied too much on his top five forwards again (the ice time is concerning to say the least - check it out). Brandon Dubinsky immediately jumped into the fire, logging time on both the power play and penalty kill. Matt Calvert looked tenacious as well and even Ryan Johansen played a more physical game.
-Welcome back Dubi
-Kevin Connauton with the GWG
-Boone Jenner goal streak continues
On the flip side, the Jackets struggled in the 3rd period again. This trend simply cannot continue. There were also some errant passes from the defensemen. Dalton Prout took a shot off his knee in the 1st period but did return. Unfortunately, he looked extremely hesitant with the puck and struggled to get out of his own zone.
I'll skip the Bottom of the Barrel mentions as the team hit a season-long four straight wins and managed to overcome a tough goal in the last minute of regulation to get the second point.
Next up: At Washington 12/11/14