After a tame first period, a wild affair played out between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche that saw the Blue Jackets hold on 5-4 in OT Wednesday night. The Avs went up 2-0 in the second, gave up four unanswered goals, and fought back with two 6-on-5 goals late in the third to even get it to overtime.
It was a tale of two games for the Avs, who were dominant early on, fell behind late, were resilient later on, but came out on the wrong end. Despite the negative result, the Avs were quite frankly lucky to get a point out of the game. With how things are playing out, that extra point just might come in handy later on in the season.
The Avs came out fast and early, with Nathan MacKinnon drawing an early penalty that couldn’t be converted, as was another early power play a few minutes later. While shorthanded with multiple injuries, the man advantage continues to be at odds with the Avs.
There was no real flow, as the Avs had the better chances through the period. Although they could never convert, the flashy defensemen of Bowen Byram and Sam Girard both got good chances from the left side that missed wide right on Joonas Korpisalo.
Despite the shot advantage, the Blue Jackets had one late 3-on-1 rush that was beautifully stopped by Jonas Johansson while falling down. It would help his team keep goose eggs on the board going into the intermission.
The action started right from the get-go for the second period. An early stop by Johansson led to a chance for Logan O’Connor down ice. He didn’t let it go for granted, as he sniped one over the blocker of Korpisalo to give the Avs a 1-0 lead just 32 seconds in.
The Blue Jackets were looking to respond and turned it up a notch after the LOC goal. They got plenty of odd-man rushes that were denied by Johansson, and a great stick from Erik Johnson to break up the play on a 2-on-1.
The Avs would get chances of their own though, as MacKinnon kept walking through the neutral zone and getting chances that couldn’t find the twine. The Avs would find the twine though when Nazem Kadri and Byram would connect on a 2-on-1 of their own to double the lead for the Avs 2-0.
The second assist on the goal went to Gabriel Landeskog, which was the 300th of his career and puts him 10th on the all time franchise list for assists.
The Avs would get a power play where Compher illegally scored after pushing the pad across the line and breaking his stick in the process. It left the Avs 0/3 on the night so far with the man advantage.
It would hurt them too, as Jake Bean would slip one past Johansson after a deflection of EJ to cut the lead in half heading into the break.
Things got off to exactly the wrong start for the Avs as a designed dump-in play by the Jackets led to Cole Sillinger, the youngest player in the league, to redirect one past Johansson to tie it at two.
(It won’t embed in our article, but the link is here: https://www.nhl.com/video/sillinger-deflects-puck-in/t-326177560/c-9398910)
The hits kept on coming, as Sillinger set himself up in front of Johansson again and directed it home to make it 3-2.
The Avs looked to get a response and get back into it after stumbling out of the room. MacKinnon made a chance all by himself for Landeskog in front that was stopped by a spread eagle Korpisalo.
After a questionable no call on a possible breakaway by Tyson Jost, the Jackets came right back down the ice where Boone Jenner got a dirty goal by Johansson to extend the lead to 4-2.
(It won’t embed again, so link here: https://www.nhl.com/video/t-326177560/c-9399458)
The Avs could not get anything set up offensively, getting only three shots on goal through the entire period in the first 16 minutes. The injury bug continued to bite the Avs, as Martin Kaut took a hit in the second period and was announced out of the rest of the game with an upper body injury in the third.
There was hope late on though. JT Compher would get the Avs back in it, with a deflection down low after a Byram shot up high. There was a chance, making it 4-3 with 3:26 left.
The Avs would take that chance and capitalize on it, tying it at four with under a minute left with a Byram slap shot from up high and send it to overtime, sending everyone delirious.
Columbus won the initial faceoff and it would come to their advantage. The Avs defense, specifically Kadri, lost track of Bean in the slot who shot it past Johansson’s glove to win it 5-4 in the extra frame.
The obvious sore spot for the Avs has to be the defensive collapse they suffered in the third period. Despite the 2-1 lead, the Avs gave up four unanswered goals dating back to the end of the second which hurt them. You could tell they were playing shorthanded with the amount of injuries facing the team right now, especially with your two best defensemen out. Avs fans can only hope this team gets healthy soon so performances like tonight don’t come along more often.
A great defensemen tonight though was Byram. He got his second and third goals of the season, including that incredible shot from way downtown to tie it at four in exhilarating fashion. He will score a lot, and is going to have a breakout year after being injured the majority of last season. Tonight was just a glimpse of what he’s capable of.
In terms of forwards, Landeskog and O’Connor had solid nights. Both have started off their season on a high note. LOC has solidified his spot in the lineup and adapting to whatever role is asked of him. He plays his heart out every night, no matter what’s asked of him that bottom six/second line role.
Johansson had an okay night in net. Strong early, he fell off in the defensive collapse and should’ve controlled the fourth goal of the night for the Jackets rather than have the bouncing puck throw everything off. It is another example of how much the Avs will rely on Darcy Kuemper and eventually Pavel Francouz when he returns from his own injury.
The second game of this home-and-home series goes to Columbus on Saturday night. The Avs will be upset after their performance tonight and probably play angry and get the best of Columbus in their building like they did tonight. Puck drop is at 5 p.m. MT.