The Blue Jackets ended a four-game losing streak Sunday evening against the Vancouver Canucks.
It was a depressing week to be a Blue Jackets fan. They matched or outplayed their opponents in three of their four losses but finally managed a win in a game where they were outplayed.
Each team went with their backup goaltenders for this game. Curtis McElhinney made his first start of the season for the Jackets and Eddie Lack started his second game for the Canucks. Vancouver gave McElhinney a work out in the first taking 13 shots. McElhinney stood his ground and stopped every shot through one period. At the other end of the ice the Blue Jackets managed two shots on net in the first but their first shot was a goal. Marian Gaborik deflected a shot from Artem Anisimov for his third goal of the season.
In the second period Henrik Sedin tied the game on a powerplay goal. McElhinney made the initial save but couldn’t freeze the puck before it trickled in behind him. The Blue Jackets did start to turn things around in the second outshooting the Canucks 14-9. These shots were mainly generated by five powerplay chances, including a 5-on-3 that the Blue Jackets could not convert on. They would end up going 0-5 on the powerplay in the game.
R.J. Umberger scored his first goal of the season in the third period. Canucks’ left winger Chris Higgins was forced to play defense when Ryan Johansen made a pass to Umberger who was breaking into the slot. Umberger snuck behind Higgins and went five-hole on Lack. After that goal the Blue Jackets gained momentum but couldn’t score again. The Canucks pulled their goalie late in the game and McElhinney had to make a very timely save on a point blank shot from Chris Higgins. Ryan Johansen would score an empty-net goal to seal the victory. Final score was 3-1.
The Blue Jackets were outshot in this game 38-29 mostly due to their inability to get any shots in the first period. However, as John Tortorella said after the game, “Don’t let the shots fool you, I don’t think we played enough in the areas to score goals. When we did, (McElhinney) made the saves.”
Curtis McElhinney kept the Blue Jackets in this game and was awarded the honor of first star making 37 saves on 38 shots. It was his first win in the NHL since December 31, 2011 when he played with the Anaheim Ducks.
Notes on the week:
Head coach Todd Richards turned 47 yesterday and with the win against Vancouver he is 3-0-0 on his birthday as a head coach.
The Blue Jackets had a penalty killing unit that killed off 90% of the penalties before the losing skid which was good enough for second overall. They now have a 76% PK rate and stand 26th overall. The powerplay is running at 20% and they are 12th overall despite going 0-8 in their last two games.
Rookie Boone Jenner scored his first goal in the NHL on Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens. It was a powerplay goal. He scored another one on the powerplay later in the game to tie it only to see the Blue Jackets lose with less than two minutes remaining in the game when Tomas Plekanec caught Sergei Bobrovsky off guard when he shot through a screen from the blue line.
Another rookie, defenseman Ryan Murray has pleased Todd Richards. Richards has said the Murray is the most consistent defenseman for the club this season. [Paraphrased]
The Blue Jackets play seven of their next eight games at home. They began a four game home stand last night. They’re coming off of a three game road trip. The win last night was their first at home this season.
Cam Atkinson leads the team in shots with 34 which are good for 25th overall in the league. He scored the only goal for Columbus when they lost to the Detroit Red Wings last Tuesday and it was a thing of beauty.