Canes Fall To Blue Jackets Twice, Both 3-2 

Cary, NC — The better team won, plain and simple.

Canes Downed In OT, 3-2 To Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime in the first of 4 consecutive games the teams will face each other.

Jackets coach, John Tortorella, who probably will never win the players’ coach of the year but has won both a Stanley Cup and the Hack Adam’s Coach of the Year award, had to be pleased with every aspect of their game. Granted the Canes did shut down all powerplays for the Jackets, Columbus still had plenty of opportunities, forcing Alex Nedeljkovic to make several acrobatic saves.

Jackets’ Jones Opens Scoring

Maybe it was a sign of what was to come with Jordan Staal losing the initial drop of the puck. Losing that faceoff may have put a burr under Jordan’s saddle as he was pretty feisty—eventually placing the first hit of the game on Zach Werenski.

The Jackets are just fine with a physical game as well as have a couple of players that make a living trying to get under opponents’ skin. Former Canes forward Chad LaRose was very good at that but his technique was more chirping with most having to be edited if he was ever mic’d up. Max Domi, on the other hand, goes beyond the chirping, which I’m sure goes on. But, the cheap shots of slaps to the legs, arms and cross-checks to the back have got to stop.

Give the Canes credit for not retaliating as usually the person retaliating draws the penalty but the on-ice officials have to get that under control. Domi got the first penalty of the game for cross-checking Martin Necas at 1:24 of the first but that warning from the refs that that junk wouldn’t be tolerated didn’t have any real teeth to it.

The Jackets had the Canes on their heels, chasing the play for most of the first period with the Canes clearly off their game. To a player and certainly the coaches, no one could be happy with their effort and something, everything, had to change.

Seth Jones had the first score of the game at the 14:11 mark. After the Canes lost the puck on an entry into the Jackets zone, Jones picked up the loose puck and carried it just over the Canes’ blue line. He dropped a pass to Oliver Bjorkstrand while proceeding down low to the right of Ned.

Patrik Laine and Jordo were in front of the net with Ned kicking out a shot by Bjorkstrand that went right. Jones was on the goal line but having a right-handed shot, was able to thread the puck short side for a pretty goal. The Jackets dominated the period on the ice and scoresheet getting the 1-0 lead and doubling the Canes on shots at 14-7.

Aho Nets 2 for Canes Lead

We can all imagine Rod Brind’Amour addressed what every player knew—the first period was unacceptable and the Canes needed to get back to taking charge. The message was received and the execution didn’t take long.

While Jordo lost the period’s initial faceoff, the Canes got control of the puck and had the puck in the Jackets’ end. Dougie Hamilton took another shot from the right point with the shot blocked by Jones. With the puck trickling into the corner, the Canes were on a line change.

Warren Foegele was digging for the puck so he couldn’t make the line change with Nino Niederreiter jumping over the boards to join in the scrum. Foegs goosed the puck loose with Nino snaring it, and looking north, he saw linemate Sebastian Aho hop over the boards, speeding down the left part of the slot. The pass was fed to Fishy between two defenders that Fishy slammed to the far side to tie the game with just 51 seconds gone.

Canes Improve but Jackets Answer Back, Tie It 2-2

The Canes’ play improved dramatically from what it was in the first. Forechecking was back, passes, more than one pass at a time were the norm and shots were getting through. The ice was finally tilting for the Canes.

At 11:09, Martin Necas started in his own zone with the puck. He built up 30 mph speed then just as he was splitting between former Canes Riley Nash and Stefan Matthau, Matthau tripped Necas putting the #1 powerplay in the NHL on the man advantage.

The first unit was on the ice and had their best-looking setup of the night. Crisp passing forced the Jackets defense to constantly reset. Andrei Svechnikov passed up to Hamilton at the top of the umbrella. Dougie faked back to Svech, quickly passing over to Necas on the right side. Necas wasted no time finding Fishy open in the mid slot with a solid pass that Fishy one-timed to Jonas Korpisalo’s right to put the Canes up by 1.

At 15:46, Brett Pesce apologized but it didn’t matter and the tripping penalty was called. Being a key penalty killer and late in the period when tiredness affects everyone, especially players on the PK, the Canes did an excellent job killing off the penalty.

With just seconds to go in the penalty after a clear by the Canes only to the neutral zone, the Jackets brought the puck in along the far boards, with Domi sliding the puck cross-ice out of the reach for any defender where Kevin Stenlund slapped it home. That one Ned would probably want another shot at to tie the game, but more so, to stop the ice from starting to now tilt for the Jackets.

Canes Lose OT Magic

The third period was the least exciting of the game. Credit the tight checking by both teams, but it appeared to be a game of not trying to make a mistake rather than play aggressively where mistakes will happen. The period only had 10 shots combined between both teams with a game low of just 4 on net for the Canes.

Even the refs looked bored putting their whistles in their pockets and not calling any penalties.

Earlier in the game, Brock McGinn got blindsided in open ice with a shot right to his head that wasn’t called but I wouldn’t be surprised if that hit will result in either a fine or suspension. Both teams kept the opponents off their games for the most part and play was very sloppy at times. You could sense the game would be going into at least overtime and hopefully a shootout.

I was wishing for the shootout as the Canes just weren’t playing with confidence and their shootout record is impressive.

Into the overtime, the Canes started playing their game. Jordo won the critical first faceoff, putting the Canes on the attack. Eventually, the Canes got off as many shots in the abbreviated overtime as they did for the entire third period. After a shot by Svech, the Jackets picked up the rebound with Bjorkstrand passing up to Jones at his own blue line.

Hamilton was the lone defender, played the middle blocking a pass with Jones holding the puck long enough then just as he got to the circle sent a hard wrister to the far right upper corner to win the game. The next 3 games should all be interesting as not only does each team know what to expect, those little cheap shots will be tolerated less by both players and officials.

Second Game, Same 3-2 Score, This Time Shootout Loss

The Canes players and staff were tired of being questioned about the poor start in the previous game which was probably one of their worst periods of the year and vowed that wouldn’t happen in this game. They were right.

Coach Rod Brind’Amour started his third line of Jordan Martinook, Brock McGinn and Warren Foegele, which may have been a reward for their play in the last game or because this line is all about energy, tight forechecking and setting the pace for the game.

Reimer In Net

Marty won the initial faceoff with the defense quickly sending the puck into the Jackets’ end. All too often that play results in the first icing call but between the finesse dump-in and speed of Ginner ragging the puck for a turnover, it was game on.

The Jackets obliged and responded with good defense, eventually clearing the puck with both teams on notice this was going to be a fast game. The only change in the Canes’ lineup was James Reimer was in goal while Elvis Merzlikins was between the pipes for John Tortorella.

Reims was first tested by a hard shot by Max Domi. Domi is a very talented player with a lethal shot and some skilled hands and his play in this game was greatly different than in the previous game. Not saying he wasn’t trying to get under the Canes’ skin, but the cheap shots were far fewer.

After the last game, Torts vowed to have his team take more shots. The Canes defense is stingy in that they rarely have a team get more shots off. The same happened this game, the Jackets did 3 more shots on net but their total shots, on net or blocked, were the same at 45 whereas the Canes got 37 on net with another 20 blocked. All that is good for the stats, it’s still what goes in that really matters.

The hitting went up a notch in this game with Cedric Paquette having the least time on the ice for the Canes but had the most hits with 5 and still getting a shot on net. The Canes’ defense had another solid game on both sides of the puck. Everyone was making the lanes clear for Reims and, as a group, got 14 shots on net with at least that just getting thrown into traffic.

Jake Gardiner is off the injured list and with Jake Bean playing so well, it’s going to be hard to get back on the ice. Gardiner did clear waivers last week and with the trade deadline not far off, maybe a name in the mix. GM Don Waddell, with this game, hit the 1,000 game mark as a GM and has been a magician with nifty moves the past two seasons and may have some trickery up his sleeve before the deadline.

Svechnikov Bats Home A Goal

Martinook won the first faceoff of the second period against former Canes Riley Nash but with a turnover in the neutral zone, Nash scooted in taking the first shot of the period that Reims easily handled. The Canes picked up the rebound, carried the puck in the Jackets’ end with new lines hopping over the boards.

Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei all got shots off with battles happening down low, hoping for a greasy goal in the dirty area. Eric Robinson, like Paquette, is a hitting machine. One shift midway in the period, he laid out his pots on Sebastian Aho, then Hamilton, then a massive hit on Paquette.

Late in the period, Jordan Staal won a faceoff in the Jackets’ end against Nash, drawing the puck back to Skjei. Skjei quickly passed to Andrei Svechnikov who brought the puck to the high slot, passing over to Pesce. Pesce passed to Jordo down low quickly passing over to Jesper Fast on the left side of the crease.

Quickie got a shot off that Merzlikins blocked, Jordo put the puck back in the blue area of the crease that Quickie hit up to Pesce, coming in from the left point. Pesch slammed a shot at the net that Merzlikins saved with his right pad, the puck hit off Svech’s right leg and with the puck in the air, Svech batted it home for a hard-fought, well-deserved goal.

Foegele’s Hard Work Pays off, Hamilton (Thought He Had The) Game Winner

Jordan Staal took the initial faceoff in the third which was an indication Brind’Amour may shorten his bench. Jordo won the draw but the Canes had a turnover in the neutral zone, allowing the Jackets entry in the Canes end. Zach Werenski had a shot blocked by Quickie with the puck going to the far corner.

Jaccob Slavin pasted Oliver Bjorkstrand along the boards with the puck rimming around to the near corner. Bjorkstrand skated along the backboards to retrieve the puck, tossing it to the crease. Hamilton had great positioning, tying up his man but the puck hit his left leg, bouncing in the net with just 39 seconds gone in the third. Tough goal to give up but every coach will say they preach to keep the puck in play and throwing to the crease is never a bad play.

The checking on both teams ratcheted up a notch as the shot selection was not necessarily the best available. It was more to take what you can when you can in the hopes the puck is available for a greasy goal. At the 15:47 mark, the Canes got the go-ahead goal.

Martinook won a faceoff in the Jackets’ end in the near circle with Foegs taking a quick shot. Merzlikins kicked the puck to the near boards with Foegs quick reflexes getting the rebound. Foegs passed up Slavo on the left point who took a shot that was blocked with the rebound again going to the near boards. This time Ginner snared the rebound, passed back to Foegs who took a quick shot that Merzlikins kicked left. Hamilton jumped on the loose puck slamming it back to the net.

Merzlikins made the pad save with the puck staying low. Martinook took a swipe at the puck that hit a defender but Foegs charging on the left side of the crease tapped it in to put the Canes up by 1. With the clock ticking down to 2 minutes remaining Torts pulled his goalie for the extra skater. The Canes cleared the puck once but the Jackets methodically brought the puck into the Canes’ end with 6 skaters.

The Canes, and also the Jackets, were 2 for 2 on the penalty kill, and the Jackets were set up like a powerplay with the extra skater. With 29 seconds left, Patrik Laine had the puck along the far side inside the circle then made a risky cross-ice pass to Seth Jones on the right point. Jones wasted no time in sending a hard wrister to the glove side of Reimer that tied the game sending it again into overtime. This was Jones’s 3rd goal in the past 2 games against the Canes.

The Canes had 2 golden opportunities in overtime. First was on a fast break with Fishy taking the puck down the left side with Martin Necas on the right. after Werenski went down flat on the ice, Fishy made a sweet pass over to Nessy who slapped it in for what looked like a game-winner but Merzlikins made a phenomenal glove save. Shortly after that Pesch was carrying the puck behind the Jackets goal when Jones clipped him in the head.

With the Canes on a rare overtime powerplay, Hamilton slammed home a game-winner. Or so everyone thought until the play went under review only to see Svech was offside in the entry negating the goal. Hamilton was not to be denied as he scored the initial goal in the shootout. Laine tied the shootout with Bjorkstrand getting the game-winner after all Canes forwards were not able to get the puck on net.


Tough loss but sets up the next two game against the Jackets in Columbus with the goal of the visiting team always winning,

Story by Bob Fennel. Photos courtesy of the Canes public Facebook page and Blue Jackets public Facebook page. See more Canes coverage on CaryCitizen.

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