Recap: TORTS SMASH in Loss to Montreal Canadiens

Torts was furious postgame. He had every right to be.

The Columbus Blue Jackets visited the Montreal Canadiens last night for the second game of their brief road trip. The Jackets were looking to win their third straight game following their bye week, a feat almost unheard of in the NHL this season as teams had, by and large, struggled after long layoffs.

William Karlsson missed the game, as he was sent back to Columbus with an illness. As a result of Karlsson’s illness (and a lack of a direct flight from Cleveland to Montreal), the Blue Jackets dressed  defenseman against the Canadiens. Scott Harrington drew in at forward for the aforementioned ill William Karlsson, meaning Torts was going to have to juggle the lines all night long. Sergei Bobrovsky got the start in goal for Columbus, and off we went.

19 seconds in, Zach Werenski let a shot go from the point that hit the crossbar, an early statement that the rookie came to play. Werenski entered the game 2 points from tying the rookie record for most points in a single season (Rick Nash had 39 in 2002-03).  The Blue Jackets’ defensemen looked active early, as Seth Jones had a great one timer go just wide, but Carey Price never saw it. Columbus took the first penalty of the game (an iffy call, to say the least) as Markus Hannikainen went off for ... something? They called it for hooking, but Jeff Petry was holding Hanikainen’s stick to draw it.

Bobrovsky was the best player on the penalty kill, making several acrobatic saves to keep the score knotted at zero.  Just as the Jackets killed the penalty, Markus Hannikainen took ANOTHER penalty (his second in 6 minutes) for holding the stick. It was an awful play from Hannikainen. Early on the power play, the whistle blew long before the Habs knocked it into the net (who, despite the whistle, continued to jam at Bobrovsky anyway) but it was rightly waived off. Brandon Saad, on a shorthanded rush, beat Carey Price but his effort hit the crossbar. The Blue Jackets killed the second penalty, allowing zero shots.

The middle part of the period featured a lot of end to end action. With 14 minutes gone in the period, the Canadiens had 7 shots on goal (6 on the first power play) compared to 4 for the Jackets. Zach Werenski hit another goalpost (the third of the period) with 5:42 to go. Jeez.

With 4:58 to go, Alexi Emelin went off for holding Boone Jenner. Despite not scoring, the first unit showed excellent puck movement (including showing some new alignment, with Sam Gagner and Nick Foligno flipping spots). The Canadiens, however, managed to kill the penalty. Bobrovsky made a huge save on an odd man rush late in the period, and it remained 0-0 after 20 minutes. Shots favored Montreal 9-7.

In some Canadiens news, David Desharnais, who was a late scratch for Montreal, was traded at the second intermission for Brandon Davidson, a defenseman from the Edmonton Oilers. So, cool. The trade deadline is so weird.

Bobrovsky opened the second period strong, making several big saves to keep the Blue Jackets tied at zero. The Blue Jackets were struggling to open the second period as Montreal pushed hard to open the period. The Jackets appeared to be a step slow as the Canadiens were getting whatever they wanted offensively. Columbus, meanwhile, had no shots on goal in the first five minutes. Oliver Bjorkstrand finally registered a good shift for the Jackets 8 minutes in, but the team still hadn’t registered a shot on goal. Boone Jenner hit the post with 9:20 gone in the period, the 4th (!) of the game.

Bobrovsky made an OUTSTANDING save on a 2-0 rush to keep Columbus in this, denying Artturi Lehkonen on a messed up line change. Torts was displeased, to say the least. It was an OUTSTANDING play by Bobrovsky to deny what probably should have been a goal by the Canadiens.

Words cannot describe the domination by the Canadiens in this period - Carey price was probably getting bored at the other end. Bobrovsky made two outstanding saves at the 13 minute mark before Werenski and Scott Hartnell forced several great saves from Price. The Jackets just looked so slow tonight. (It’s almost like playing a forward down because this team carries a stupid amount of defensemen is a hinderance).

The Jackets held the Canadiens scoreless (and I mean held). Boone Jenner took a slashing penalty as the period ended, giving the Canadiens a power play to open the third period. Shots favored the Habs 20-14.

An aside - we HAVE to figure this roster out and the lack of a spare forward. Dalton Prout clearly can’t hang with this team. Harrington played 0:51 seconds in the first two periods, Markus Hannikainen played 5:10.  The next fewest minutes? Josh Anderson, with 7:47. No wonder this team looked exhausted, they were effectively playing with 3 lines. This is criminal roster mismanagement by Jarmo, and SOMEONE needs to ask why the team continues to carry guys that they cannot trust to play games. It looks likely to cost this team tonight, and could cost them even further in the future. This is inexcusable.

As noted above, the Canadiens opened the period with a power play with Boone Jenner in the box for slashing. The Blue Jackets exerted themselves on the kill, allowing no shots on goal and seeing the penalty out. On the ensuing rush, Jenner had an excellent chance, but he fired it wide of Price.

Zach Werenski had a monster night. He generated several scoring chances, hit the crossbar twice, and put several shots on goal on Carey Price. He remains a stud. He’s going to be so good in the future.

At the 4:00 mark, Ryan Murray, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Sergei Bobrovsky combined to deny a Max Pacioretty chance. Excellent work there from the rookie winger. Minutes later, David Savard made an excellent defensive play to deny a breakaway from Alexander Radulov. What an excellent play from Savard, who has had a few good games in a row now.

Montreal’s conditioning seemed to take over through the middle part of the period. Save for Brandon Saad and Oliver Bjorkstrand, the team looked gassed (especially Werenski and Jones, who had approximately a 5 minute shift). Zach Werenski took a shot off the hip area, or the back of his leg, and he was extremely slow to get up. He did, however, stay on the ice because Alexander Radulov took an interference penalty with 7:09 to go. Despite a couple chances, the Canadiens killed the penalty.

BOBROVSKY - A PAD SAVE AND A BEAUTY. Bobrovsky flat out ROBBED Max Pacioretty with his left pad at the 16:02 mark of the period. There was a dogpile on Bob’s left leg, but he appeared to be okay. Nervy moments for the Jackets’ netminder.

60 minutes produced zero goals. This one would go to bonus hockey to decide the winner.

Alexander Wennberg sent a backhand effort just wide early in overtime. As Bobrovsky denied Pacioretty, the puck slipped loose but somehow - SOMEHOW - it stayed out. Or, at least, it stayed out when the official blew the whistle. It was waved off before it crossed the goal line. The call went to Toronto for review, and it was ruled no goal by the officials. The whistle had blown before the puck crossed the goal line.

With 2:03 to go in the overtime period, Seth Jones went off for holding Alex Galchenyuk on a, frankly, bullshit call. That was a total make up call for the goal call that Montreal felt hosed on. Radulov, on the ensuing penalty kill, flipped Brandon Dubinsky into the air with a trip, but of course there was no call.

Alex Galchenyuk, after drawing the penalty, won it with a minute to go.

FINAL: Montreal Canadiens 1 Columbus Blue Jackets 0

After the game, Torts ventured out on his ice to voice his displeasure over the call. They were flat out hosed in overtime by officials that kowtowed to the pressure of the crowd all night long. Frankly, Torts had every right to complain. That was a terrible call that doesn’t get called in 25/30 arenas in the league.

Whatever. 5/6 points on the season against those whining guys in Quebec (including a +10 goal differential, so eat it Canadiens), and the Jackets sit solidly in third place in the Metro MORNING UPDATE: THE JACKETS ARE IN SECOND IN THE METRO, AHEAD OF PITTSBURGH BASED ON ROW with 2 games in hand on the New York Rangers.

The Jackets stole a point on the road playing with just 3 lines for the night and with 2 regular centers out of the lineup. Hannikainen ended with 5:10 TOI, Harrington with 0:51, which is absolutely inexcusable and MUST be addressed going forward, we cannot afford to play down two players.There were 4 posts hit, but several defensive collapses and odd man rushes the other way that were stonewalled by a STERLING Sergei Bobrovsky, who could not have been better. It wasn’t great, but it could have been way worse.

On to Thursday, and the Minnesota Mumps ... er, Minnesota Wild.

Go Jackets.

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