Look I’m just not fussed. I’m not. I tried to be. But it was a lackluster effort on a Tuesday night at the end of December and it’s just . . . blah. The Capitals didn’t play tonight so we’re still at the top of the league, and after the Caps it’s 8 points down to the next highest team. In the Central Division it’s 7 points to the Blues and 9 points to the Kings.
WE’RE GONNA BE FINE. We were never gonna go 82-0 and honestly, after the week we’ve had I’m okay with this. At least it’s Columbus and not, like, the Ducks. Or the Capitals. Or anyone in the Central. So we phoned it in against the bottom of the league. IT’S OKAY.
That said, my GOD, that first period blew.
So the first thing that happens is Boone Jenner scores on the first shift 35 seconds into the game. I was actually in the kitchen putting water on to boil for some mac and cheese and I figured I’d be safe because, you know, the puck hadn’t even dropped yet. LITTLE DID I KNOW. Honestly it was the stupidest goal.
Atkinson carries the puck in, Dubinsky gets it on net, and then three Stars and their goalie just cannot for the life of them get it away from the front of the net. Like. Okay? What are these choices. And not only can they not clear it, but Kari gets way out of the net and over to one side and no one compensates for that? OKAY? Please, children. Don’t.
Six minutes later Colton Sceviour gets it back with a beauty of a garbage goal. (Those two things are not mutually exclusive.)
Because if you’re going to give one up why not get one back. Colton Sceviour’s really been trying his very hardest these last few games and I definitely appreciate it. If you weren’t watching, unfortunately the replay on the site is the Blue Jackets stream so you’re going to miss out on Razor calling Sceviour the big chunk of sourdough that mops up the gravy. (Don’t worry, it’ll be in the razorisms.)
Kevin Connauton scores his second against his former team.
That’s one you’d like Kari to have. He wasn’t screened, it wasn’t a breakaway. Just sloppy lateral movement and enough of a gap between him and the post that Connauton squeaked the puck through.
Jordie gets called for a penalty for puck over glass and yes, that’s the second stupidest penalty in hockey. But it did give us this close up:
Of his BLACK EYE so I’m not really that mad at it. I’m assuming he got it in the midst of the scrum in the second game against St. Louis? He didn’t have it before that.
Jamie had a really good chance on a breakaway but couldn’t elevate over McElhinney’s pad. And then, in the final minute and a half of the period, Matt Calvert strikes.
Hemsky and Klingberg both lose a battle against Bourque for the puck in the corner. He gets it out to William “No Relation to Erik” Karlsson who passes straight over to Calvert who had no problem getting the puck behind Kari. Klingberg makes half an effort to get in the lane but is unsuccessful in his attempt.
Jackets take a two goal lead into first intermission.
Niemi starts the second period (Kari’s Sv% of .786 and three extremely soft goals had a lot to do with that). Goligoski had some good moves on a breakaway by Saad to keep the Stars within two.
And then, Tyler Seguin.
Klingberg picks the puck up in the Stars zone, passes all the way across the neutral zone. Jamie Benn picks it up against the boards and then (as the CBJ announcers put it) gets the puck to his “main man” Tyler Seguin. (They also mispronounced Seguin, but that’s really neither here nor there.) (MAIN MAN.)
Jamie’s assist on that goal was his 50th point of the season, which would have brought him back into a tie for an Art Ross repeat, but the Hawks game against the Coyotes tonight looks like it was an actual, literal tire fire and Patrick Kane ended the night with 2 assists and a goal.
Hartnell goes off for slashing Klingberg and look, we’re within one and all we need is a big power play goal, right? Let’s do this.
We did not do this. We had one shot on goal and one scoring chance but two corsi events so hopefully these were two separate instances and not the same thing being counted in two columns.
We finished the power play by getting ourselves hopelessly pinned in our own zone, giving Brandon Saad plenty of time to capitalize on some lifeless Stars.
This one wasn’t giffed but it was basically chaos in front of the net. Niemi didn’t get his skate on the post and Saad shoveled the puck in behind him.
And they take a two goal lead into second intermission, as is tradition.
Heading into the third there was all this talk from Strader and Razor about how big the Stars have been in the third period this season. And it’s true, our goal differential in the third period is 18, best in the league. The Blue Jackets? -17, which is good for worst in the league. There’s still hope, Stars fans!
And it looked like everything was set for a comeback early in the third. Sharp scores about a minute in off a nifty pass from Spezza.
Just a true thing of beauty. So yay! We’re within one again!
Tyler Seguin takes a seat for holding Hartnell’s stick. Our penalty kill was actually produced two quality scoring chances for Jamie Benn, but he wasn’t able to get anything past McElhinney.
Roussel draws the same penalty on Brandon Saad, but though we get two quality chances on that one, we still get nothing.
Nichushkin loses a battle in the Blue Jackets’ zone for the puck and someone (I honestly couldn’t see who) takes a shot through the neutral zone because guess what, no Stars were down there. No Blue Jackets were either, actually, so Niemi COMES WAY THE FRICK OUT OF HIS NET to PLAY THE PUCK in some MISGUIDED ATTEMPT TO CLEAR IT OUT OF THE ZONE, turns it RIGHT OVER TO SCOTT HARTNELL who has NO PROBLEMS getting the puck into a LITERALLY GAPING WIDE EMPTY NET.
So thanks for that, Antti Niemi. You’re a peach.
No gifs of that either, but you’re welcome to watch the replay online.
Johnny Oduya and Rene Bourque get matching penalties for roughing and, to keep things interesting, Lindy Ruff decides to pull Niemi with 42 seconds left to go in the 4v4. It goes well for about twenty seconds, but then turns into a rush going the other way. Jamie Benn slides into goal and stacks his pads (what pads?) to keep the puck out of the net, and then Jason Spezza gets in there to help. Niemi comes back at the end of the 4v4, THANK GOODNESS. The last thing we honestly need is Jamie Benn sacrificing the body to keep COLUMBUS from winning a game. Save it for the playoffs.
Ruff pulls Niemi for reals this time with about two minutes left to go and Rene Bourque gets the empty netter. 6-3 loss to the last place team in the league. And! Only McElhinney’s second win of the season. I’m checking, because I like to make myself sad, and it’s his 14th game. Two wins in 14 games. You’re welcome for gift wrapping your second, bro.
27-8-3. Am I fussed? I am not fussed. Also, we lost Ales Hemsky in the third to a lower body injury so depending on the time he’s gonna need, expect a call up from Cedar Park.