The Columbus Blue Jackets had trade rumors swirling and were losers of five straight games before a road matchup against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.
The Jackets weren’t the only team feeling a little desperate, as the Avs had lost three straight games (all at home) before the puck drop and were losing ground in the standings as as well.
Although Ryan Murray and Brandon Dubinsky were out due to injury, the team did have Center Boone Jenner return to the lineup.
Columbus was hoping to get scoring from some secondary players other than the top-tier guys (Cam Atkinson, Artemi Panarin and Pierre-Luc Dubois). It felt like it was gonna be good night early on for the road squad, as Oliver Bjorkstrand scored on a wraparound 53 seconds into the game. Alexander Wennberg, who hasn’t been producing enough lately, was credited with the primary assist on the goal.
The rest of the opening period didn’t go too well for Columbus, as there were some back-and-forth goals between the two clubs. Pierre-Luc Dubois did end up scoring his 20th goal of the season and the score tied 2-2 heading into the intermission.
In the second period, things got shaky for Columbus after Samuel Girard scored at the 14:06 mark to give Colorado their first lead of the night. With just under a minute left in the 2nd, it was Seth Jones who turned the puck over and it almost led to a 4-2 deficit. Instead, Jones remained composed and showed off some great stickwork to keep the puck out of the net.
Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky also deserves a lot of credit on the evening, not allowing the Avs to extend their lead and keep the CBJ within striking distance.
With 19 seconds left in the 2nd period, it was Cam Atkinson who sprung loose and tied it up at 3-3 heading into the final 20 minutes. Artemi Panarin made a great pass in front of his own net to allow Cam to score on a backhand-to-forehand move.
The final ten minutes of action was all in favor of Columbus.
At the 10:29 mark, Josh Anderson positioned himself in front of the net and got the puck past Philipp Grubauer to put the Jackets up 4-3. It appeared Anderson may have been offside on the play and Colorado challenged the play.
Here’s what Head Coach John Tortorella had to say regarding the offside ruling:
I’m not sure what the call is quite honestly…It’s a tough one to overturn.
The Jackets added insult to injury, not only being rewarded a power play due to the failed challenge, but scoring on it, thanks to a brilliant shot from Wennberg. The goal was Wennberg’s second of the season.
Colorado pulled their goalie and PLD put the nail in the coffin with 1:28 left, scoring an empty netter to put the CBJ up 6-3.
Torts had this to say about the performance in the 3rd period from his team:
Hopefully we can build off that 3rd period. We have something good to build off in that third period.
Secondary scoring was huge for Columbus in the win, with Bjorkstrand, Jenner and Anderson getting on the board. That wasn’t the only big storyline from the performance, however. Despite the lack of production in the standings lately, the Jackets have proven to have one of the best penalty-killing units in the National Hockey League. The Avalanche were 0-4 on the power play last night and Columbus has found themselves ranked fifth in the NHL, with a PK percentage of 83.7.
Tortorella talked about why the penalty kill was so effective in the 6-3 victory:
[We’ve] Been really aggressive. Had some good sticks tonight, some good anticipation as far as trying to break up plays.
The trade talks won’t be going away and it’s likely this team will make a move in the near future. With all that being said, the CBJ finally put two points in the bank. Their next game will be out west on Thursday night against the Arizona Coyotes with the puck drop scheduled for shortly after 9:00 PM ET. Whether or not the roster remains the same until then, we’ll just have to wait and see…