The Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils met on Sunday afternoon in a Metropolitan Division matchup full of potential franchise firsts for the CBJ. In what ended up being an odd game, the Jackets came out victorious defeating the Devils by a score of 4-1.
Sunday’s afternoon game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils got off to a bit of a slow start, but what would follow was anything but boring.
After taking an awkward hit in Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders, Alexander Wennberg sat out Sunday’s game. Taking his place was Lukas Sedlak, who missed the previous month with an oblique injury.
With the Devils on the power play at the 6:32 mark of the first period, Lukas Sedlak stole a puck and broke free on a breakaway. Sedlak was hooked and never got a shot off, so the referee awarded him a penalty shot. Sedlak promptly buried the puck past Devils goaltender Cory Schneider to give the Jackets a 1-0 lead.
A few minutes later, with the Devils again on the man advantage, Boone Jenner had a tremendous individual effort to extend the CBJ lead to two. Jenner entered the offensive zone attempting to kill off valuable seconds of the Devils power play. Often times in two or three-on-one situations, Jenner was able to maintain control of the puck as he eventually made his way behind the net. The puck ended up getting kicked around the boards to Jack Johnson, who joined the shorthanded attack. Johnson sent a slap shot in on Schneider that got deflected wide. The rebound off the boards went right to Boone Jenner, who sent a bad-angle shot off Schneider and into the back of the net.
John Tortorella commented after the game on Boone Jenner’s game of late.
He’s playing his best hockey at the right time.
The Devils immediately scored a power play goal off the ensuing faceoff, as winger Adam Henrique took control, drove in on Sergei Bobrovsky, and sent the puck across the line. The Jackets challenged the call, as the play appeared to be offside, but the call on the ice stood. Bobrovsky was also bumped on the play, but the goal stood nonetheless.
With 9:30 remaining in the first period, there had been a penalty shot goal, shorthanded goal, and a power play goal. The rest of the period calmed down as the Devils and Jackets went to the first intermission with the CBJ up 2-1.
The second period wasn’t quite as odd as the first, but was still interesting. Just over six minutes in, Josh Anderson found himself all alone on a breakaway. Anderson was hauled down before getting to the net, and the Jackets were awarded yet another penalty shot. As Josh Anderson was a little shaken up on the play, Brandon Dubinsky took the penalty shot and beat Schneider high-stick side to give the visitors a 3-1 lead.
The rest of the second period remained scoreless, as did the majority of the third.
With 1:57 remaining in the third period, Boone Jenner buried one from the CBJ blue line into the empty Devils net for his second goal of the afternoon to secure the 4-1 Jackets victory.
The win gave the Jackets 100 points on the season, put them into a tie for first place with the Washington Capitals, and clinched a playoff berth for the third time in franchise history.
When asked about the feeling in the room after clinching a playoff spot, the longest tenured Blue Jacket, Matt Calvert, said:
It’s great but, you know, we don’t take our foot off the gas pedal…We’re still chasing top spot in the league and that’s something we’re going to focus on the rest of the regular season.
After the game, Brandon Dubinsky was asked about the team’s goals the final 11 games of the regular season. Dubinsky said:
Win all of them.
The Jackets will get a few days to celebrate this victory. Their next game comes Wednesday at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs.