Friday night the Columbus Blue Jackets found themselves in the Pacific Northwest facing off against the reeling Vancouver Canucks. After battling to a 2-1 overtime victory in Calgary Wednesday night, many thought the emotions would carry over into Vancouver. What actually happened is the Jackets again found themselves at the ugly end of a game in Canada. The Canucks dominated the offensive-barren CBJ 6-2. After 4 games on their Canadian swing the Jackets are now 2 and 2.
Columbus opened the scoring at the 2:47 mark of the first when Michael Chaput blocked a shot from the point and directed the puck to Matt Calvert. Calvert, in his first game since missing 19 with an abdominal injury, used his speed to gain the outside on Zack Kassian and cut in to the front of the goal. He deposited the puck past a sprawling Roberto Luongo on the Jackets’ first shot of the game to give Columbus a 1-0 lead. Chaput earned his first NHL point picking up an assist. At this point things were looking positive for the CBJ, as they got one of their hardest working players back and it was making fast difference.
Vancouver almost tied it just 30 seconds after Calvert’s goal when Tom Sestito attempted to beat goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky on a rebound. The puck got behind Bobrovsky, but he was able to spin around and snatch it with his glove before the entire puck crossed the goal-line. The play went to review, but it was to no avail.
The Canucks finally did hit pay dirt when Daniel Sedin wrangled the puck from behind the goal and walked out to Bobrovsky’s left. Sedin fired a shot from a poor angle but the puck managed to beat Bobrovsky with 15 seconds remaining in the first period. The last-minute woes of the Blue Jackets have now become a commonplace occurrence.
Columbus was able to kill off two penalties in the first. Boone Jenner was whistled for closing his hand on the puck and David Savard was called for boarding when he hit a Vancouver player from behind into the boards. The Jackets were not able to cash-in on one power play opportunity.
If the Blue Jackets could do one thing this season, its skip over the second period of all their games. The second is when the wheels fell off again. Kassian was able to beat Bobrovsky on a soft wrist shot from the top of the face-off circle, and the flood gates opened. Kassian’s goal was created by a rush that occurred just seconds after Cam Atkinson was able to get in alone down low on Luongo and hit the outside of the net. Atkinson had Luongo beat and reeling, but was not able to capitalize.
At 13:59 Henrik Sedin was able to put one in the goal when he put back a rebound and Bobrovsky accidentally kicked the puck with his heel while trying to find it. 16 seconds later Alexander Edler fired a bomb from the blue-line that deflected and flew past Bobrovsky off the post. The Canucks scored three goals in 2:10 and effectively put the game out of reach for the Jackets.
The CBJ had three power play opportunities in the second, and had some decent chances, but could not sustain any pressure. Vancouver had two opportunities on the man-advantage but Columbus was able to kill them off.
The demolition continued into the third period as Henrik Sedin was able to deflect his brother Daniel’s shot past Bobrovsky for Vancouver’s fifth unanswered goal. It appeared that Bobrovsky was in position to make the save but was still surprised by the movement of the puck. The puck hit Bobrovsky in the glove and then got a piece of his mask before landing behind him.
At the 12:49 mark of the third Sestito, a known agitator, took a run at RJ Umberger in the Vancouver corner. As a delayed penalty was about to be called, CBJ forward Nick Foligno came to the aid of his fallen teammate and challenged the larger Sestito to a fight. Sestito obliged and the two went at it. Foligno held his own despite being out-sized and having less fighting experience. Foligno was able to tag Sestio with a few good rights, and the two were taken off the ice for fighting. It was really the only spirited thing to take away from the evening for the downtrodden Blue Jackets.
The night continued to be rough for Columbus as a questionable penalty shot opportunity was awarded to Vancouver’s Janik Hansen with 3:27 left in the game. Bobrovsky was able to stand up to the challenge, but at that point it was a fading beacon in a sea of darkness.
Artem Anisimov added one more goal to the Jackets’ night after fighting in a rebound off a Nikita Nikitin shot, but it was too little too late. Vancouver answered with some extra salt and lemon juice in the wound with 29 seconds left in the game when Jeremy Welsh tipped in a shot past Bobrovsky, and with that the slaughter ended.
FINAL: CBJ-2 VAN-6
The Blue Jackets continued their Jekyll and Hyde approach to their Canadian road trip, dropping this one in embarrassing fashion after playing well in Calgary. What the game boiled down to was, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, sustain offensive pressure and get shots on goal. The offensive ineptitude continued Friday night, despite opening the scoring. Bobrovsky might have had a few shots he’d like to have back, but when you’re getting shelled on a nightly basis it takes its toll. The Jackets were out-shot 35-16, and that’s not even counting the 17 shots that were blocked before reaching the goal. Vancouver blocked 19 shots officially, but none were of any quality. Poor shot selection and crease presence again plagued Columbus for another night. The Jackets next head to back to the eastern time-zone for a battle in Toronto against the Maple Leafs Monday night at 7pm before heading home for back to back games.