On a random Wednesday night in January, it all came together for the Blue Jackets. In a game in Edmonton, Alberta, against the top two players on the planet (and the rest of the Oilers), the Jackets weathered an early attack and battled hard, earning a tough 2 points on the road.
It wasn’t perfect, but really, when you’re playing against players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, it never will be. You can’t completely suppress these two. Really, you can only hope to contain them, and the young Jackets were able to do just that.
The Oilers came out flying, dominating the play early and hemming the Jackets into their own end. Scoring chances for the Oilers were plentiful, but Joonas Korpisalo stood tall and did not concede a goal. After the early barrage, the Jackets were able to find their legs and spend some time at the other end. They took the lead soon after: Boone Jenner deflected in an Adam Boqvist shot, and it was a 1-0 game 12:25 in.
The score would remain 1-0 for the visitors until the 10:17 mark of the second period, when Derek Ryan would take advantage of a lucky neutral zone bounce, skating around the defense with speed and sniping one past Korpisalo to tie the game. Zach Hyman would give the Oilers at 2-1 lead six minutes later, with a power-play goal off of a nice shot-pass from McDavid. Even with a decent period of road hockey – and some dazzling goaltending – they found themselves behind in this one.
But the Blue Jackets came out determined in the third period, and would not go away. We have seen luck go the other way plenty of times this season. Either the team plays well defensively but gives up the backbreaking goal. Or they play well offensively, but get out-paced in transition and get out-scored.
That wasn’t the case on this night. Kirill Marchenko would find the tying goal, his 11th of the season, after beating Tyson Barrie off the boards and to the net, digging for his own rebound and beating Stuart Skinner. Marchenko and Kent Johnson were working on this shift:
The Oilers made another push late, but the Blue Jackets were able to hold on and get this one to the extra frame. Certainly, the Oilers have a huge advantage when we’re talking about 3-on-3 hockey – but it was the Jackets who found a way to get it done, again on the back of young Kent Johnson, who gets the OT game winner:
While this win is only the fourth win on the road for the Jackets this season, it’s encouraging to see them playing so well away from home. This was the second game in a row where they competed hard against a superior opponent, and they leave Alberta with 3 of a possible 4 points.
The win is more impressive when you look at how the Oilers had been playing of late. They had won 6 in a row, outscoring the opposition 31-13 in the process. McDavid and Draisaitl each had 11 points during that win streak, but were held to a combined one assist last night by the Jackets. Korpisalo was fantastic, and gave the Jackets a chance to win.
Another big part of their success last night was staying out of the penalty box – they gave the Oilers just one power-play chance, which is very good: the Oilers’ power-play is clicking at over 31% on the season, and they did score on that lone chance last night.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all glory and good news last night, as Gustav Nyquist was forced out of the game in the first period after a hard collision with Jesse Puljujarvi. He was seen around the locker room and in good spirits post-game, so hopefully that’s a disaster averted. Perhaps the worst thing that could happen to this team right now would be an injury to a valuable trade chip with the deadline approaching.
Hopefully they can get Nyquist back before tomorrow night’s game in Vancouver; his leadership and skill will be missed if he’s out. The Jackets will take on the Canucks at 10:00PM, looking to extend their point streak to four games for the first time this season.