Well, uh, that happened. A game that held such promise unraveled quickly for the Blues tonight in Columbus. Yes, some players were able to pad some stats and the team kept fighting until the final horn but that was brutal.
You could probably look back and tell how this game was going to go after Nick Foligno got a great look on an early 2 on 1 in the first minute. The back checking wasn’t there and all Foligno did was get a stick on the puck to redirect it on goal. Looking back, that’s all Columbus did to score half their goals tonight, just throw the puck toward the net and hope it hit something.
The Jackets would get on the board just two and half minutes in as Scott Hartnell would outwork two Blues behind the net and feed Sam Gagner. Gagner would get the puck on his backhand and, with the help of Jay Bouwmeester’s stick blade, roof the puck over Jake Allen for the 1-0 lead.
This would be a theme on the night for Columbus and it would prove to be the Blues undoing, but we aren’t there quite yet.
The Blues penalty kill is one of the tops in the league but the power play has struggling recently, as evident by the lack of goal scoring over the last few weeks. Tonight, though, it was the power play that got the Blue started.
With Lukas Sedlak in the box for holding the stick, not his own jackasses, Kevin Shattenkirk would tie the game on a mini rush entering the zone.
The Blues got a bit lucky that Ryan Murray was unable to get the puck all the way down the ice and having Shatty and Vladimir Tarasenko heading an odd man rush on the power play is the stuff of goalie nightmares. Even with the skill of the pass and the shot, Sergei Bobrovsky still got a toe on the puck and a save there could have turned this game into an entirely different direction.
Why you ask? Well just 8 seconds.....
Dammit I couldn’t even describe what happened before Foligno got that goal just 8 seconds after the Blues tied it. 8 SECONDS?!?!?! And that was just the start of a very bad night for the captain. Not really sure what was going through Pietrangelo’s head on that pass but that’s a shot that Allen needs to stop. He has a great glove and to let that puck in is just laziness.
Allen would get pulled to the bench for Carter Hutton after that goal, not a true goalie change but a chance to shake up the team and say hey you guys need to fight for this guy. Unfortunately it wasn’t the only time Allen would be seeing the bench tonight.
Remember how I said Pietrangelo’s night wasn’t going to get any better? Well it wasn’t a giveaway this time, more of trying to do too much at the wrong time.
Alexander Wennberg was tied for the league lead in assists coming into this game and he should have taken the lead after that perfectly deflect-able shot he put on for Petro to tip in. That being said, that was Wennberg’s second goal of the season and helped him increase his team lead in points to 16. So if not for two errant sticks the Blues would have headed to the intermission tied at 1, instead they faced a 3-1 deficit and it wasn’t about to get better.
The second period opened well for St. Louis. The Blues were holding offensive zone time and getting some good looks on Bobrovsky but couldn’t put anything past him. On the other end of the ice it was this Gagner fella who outworked Kyle Brodziak in front of the net to end Jake Allen’s night.
Yes Allen should have stopped a few of these but when you’re not getting help on the back-end and players are playing with weak sticks this is going to happen. And how did Carter Hutton get welcomed back to the game you ask? Well just 38 seconds after entering the game.......
DAMMIT! Seriously did they just do that again. Another breakdown on the defensive side with no back-checking and Brandon Dubinsky is able to find his first goal of the season. At this point did anyone else feel like a Canadians fan from last Friday? At least we had gotten a goal in this game.
Just like the 10-0 game against Montreal the Blue Jackets were not finished with their goal scoring at 5-1. Up next was Markus Nutivaara who collected his first career NHL goal.
Than just two and a half minutes later WIlliam Karlsson picked up his second of the year.
In both cases the Blues could have prevented goals bu just being stronger on the puck then the Jackets. Hell Pietrangelo had his stick on the stick of Nutivaara’s stick and couldn’t prevent him from getting a shot off? On Karlsson’s goal the Jackets forward beat out three Blues players to free the puck along the boards. There was just no fight in the team at that point.
Columbus would give the Blues chances to get back in the game and to the Blues credit they started to take advantage of those chances. Robby Fabbri would net his second goal of the season after sitting out the game in Nashville on Thursday.
The Blues were whipping the puck around pretty good on this power play and the pass from Tarasenko was absolutely perfect. It’s just a shame they can’t do this 5 on 5. The goal was the second on the power play and they would get another chance to cut into the lead with another power play near the end of the second when Murray went off for tripping.
The Blues weren’t able to capitalize with time winding down in the period but they did carry some time over into the third and Vladi used that to his advantage and just 21 seconds into the third cut the lead to 7-3 with the third power play goal of the game.
That stutter step though, man does that make him dangerous. Now I am sure no one was thinking 2000 comeback against the Leafs or anything but maybe we could make this interesting. But Columbus wasn’t having any of that as they used their top ranked power play to slow the Blues momentum.
As Columbus drew the four Blues defenders closer to the net by working the puck behind the net, 19 year-old Zach Werenski slide in from the point and just ripped a shot past Hutton off a pass from Cam Atkinson.
The Blues wouldn’t quit though and as quick as Werenski scored that goal to go up 8-3 he would end up in the penalty box giving the Blues yet another power play. Once again the Blues were able to gain the zone easily and made some crisp passes to spread out the Jacket defense leaving Fabbri alone on the far side for the net where he slammed in his second goal of the night and the fourth Blues goal on the power play.
With 14 minutes still left and only a four goal deficit maybe the Blues could mount an epic comeback? In the immortal words of Consuela
Things would get chippy as the game wound down with the teams receiving three sets of matching minors over a 5 minute span including a wannabe fight between Peterri Lindbohm and Matt Calvert that the linesman said no to before it even started.
The 8-4 final is going to look ugly on the scoreboard and despite the 4-5 power play unit the rest of the game was just not up to snuff for the Blues. Is it because they know Hitchcock is a lame duck retiree? This doesn’t seem like years past where you could see the team had quit on the coach, there is an effort there but there is no teamwork. Yes the power play looked good against the team they are tied with for best penalty kill but when you can’t score 5 on 5 its going to hurt you.
So the question becomes, does Hitch step down now and cede control to Yeo or does Armstrong make a trade? All I know is Nail Yakupov was benched for the third period. Seriously?
The Blues will need to figure something out because they have a three game homestand coming up that could turn ugly if they fail to score some goals and win some games. Buffalo is a an under the radar team, we all know what San Jose brings and we just lost the Predators who we will see next Saturday. This next week could be a make or break one for this team. But until then lets all drown our memories of this game with some good strong adult beverages.
#3 - Robby Fabbri: 2 goals off of a benching and an overall strong game
#2 - Sam Gagner: 2 goals and set the tone early for how the Jackets were going to play
#1 - Cam Atkinson: Started off slow but rattled off 4 straight assists to salt the game away