It’s been a rough go of late for the Columbus Blue Jackets, not just on the ice, but in personnel too. As the NHL trade deadline looms, Columbus Traded away center Riley Nash and long-time defenseman David Savard for draft picks. And in the same breath, the team also lost forward Boone Jenner and defenseman Zach Werenskie to season-ending injuries.
Coming off a miserable performance on Thursday versus Tampa Bay, Columbus looked for a fast start against the Chicago Blackhawks. And a fast start they got.
After several close shots on net by the Jackets, It was Michael Del Zotto who took a nifty pass in front of the next from Alexandre Texier, spun around, and placed it over the right shoulder of Kevin Lankinin.
The fast start continued when WIDE OPEN Cam Atkinson took back post pass from Jack Roslovic and pressed through Lankinin’s legs to double the advantage for the home team.
Chicago pulled a goal back on a power play goal by Alex DeBrincat. Columbus has already weathered a 5 on 3 situation, but could not kill for the last few seconds.
With 2:58 left in the period Carl Soderberg evens out the game at 2 a piece, capitalizing on sustained pressure by the Blackhawks in the Columbus defensive zone.
Chicago seemed to score a goal on a scramble in front Columbus’s net that was challenged. However, after review, the goal stood and the Blackhawks assumed the lead.
As the period went on, Columbus seemed to lose a lot of that steam it had at the start of the game. Passing became inconsistent, clearances were sloppy, and the puck was being picked off their sticks.
Chicago’s pressure finally payed off when Dylan Strome put his uncontested wrist shot past Merzlikins to double the lead.
Columbus finished the period with a flurry of shots on goal, but was unable to convert into anything goals.
The Blue Jackets came into the period with much better intensity, yet still not to the start of the frist period level. While Columbus managed to get more shots on goal, they were all directed into the body of goaltender Lankinen.
with 49 seconds left in the game, Patrik Laine snapped a pass from Max Domi into the Chicago net. Laine had a pretty listless game up to this point.
In the end, it did not matter as the home team could not muster an equalizer.
The only consistent thing about the Jackets this year has been their inconstancy, not just from game to game, but even from period to period. That will never help you make the playoffs.
Chicago exploited the Columbus defense all nigh long, especially in the second period in which they had multiple three on two and even three on one breakaways. That is in large part to a superios transition game display by the Blackhawks.
Speaking of transitional play, Columbus basically has none.
Just when you think this team is fading and out of contention, they beat a good team or show some brilliant flashes of dominance, but it has become very clear that those are nothing more than flashes in the pan.
Columbus takes on Chicago again at Nationwide arena on Monday at 7pm.