The Blue Jackets dropped a 4-1 decision on the road vs. Edmonton at Rogers Place on Saturday night.
Game in a Paragraph
Columbus did everything but score for much of the game, as Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen was the story of the game for long stretches. The Blue Jackets finished with 47 shots on goal but Koskinen denied all but one with 59.0 seconds to go, allowing an early Oilers goal to stand up for much of the game before two late Edmonton tallies put the game out of reach.
Video: CBJ@EDM: Nyquist pots own rebound from the doorstep
Quote of the Game
Defenseman Zach Werenski: "If we play like that, I think we're going to win a lot more games than we're going to lose. It's just unfortunate tonight we came out on the wrong side of things."
- Gus Nyquist scored for the third game in a row to reach 15 goals on the season.
- Alexander Wennberg assisted on the tally to give him 200 career points.
- Werenski had an assist, finished with eight shots on goal and played 27:21, his third highest mark of the year.
Columbus had a huge territorial edge in the first period -- shot attempts were 31-8 in favor of the Blue Jackets -- but found itself on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline.
That's because just 3:08 into the game, the Oilers started the scoring on a transition tally by Alex Chiasson. He took a feed from Jujhar Khaira and fired from above the right circle, but the puck snuck by Joonas Korpisalo to give Edmonton the early 1-0 lead.
From there, though, it was almost all Columbus, which put 21 shots on goal during the frame, but Koskinen was equal to all of them. He made a couple of nice stops on Kevin Stenlund shots -- one after an Edmonton turnover, the other on the power play to start a nice sequence for the Oilers goalie in which he also denied Werenski and Nick Foligno. Koskinen also smothered a rebound of a shot by Boone Jenner and got lucky when Emil Bemstrom drilled the crossbar late in the frame.
Korpisalo also made an excellent save late in the frame to keep it a 1-0 game. Darnell Nurse got open back door and looked set to score on a cross-crease feed, but Korpisalo moved left to right to make the stop.
The second period wasn't quite as dominant for the Blue Jackets but the team still carried play for the most part. The best chances included a glove save on Koskinen as the Blue Jackets had a delayed penalty awaiting and a stop on Werenski backdoor off a feed from Stenlund.
Koskinen made another excellent stop on Wennberg early in the period after Dubois stole a clearing attempt and fed the Swedish forward in front. Going the other way, Korpisalo was equal to the task seven minutes into the period as Leon Draisaitl set up Tyler Ennis with speed but the CBJ goalie made a glove save.
With just over 10 minutes to go, it was Werenski's turn to be turned aside, as Wennberg found him open at the back post but he partially fanned on the shot and it went into Koskinen's pad. Then came perhaps the most frustrating miss of the night, as Koskinen was on his backside after making a save with just over nine minutes to go, but Bemstrom collected the puck and fired into the chest of Draisaitl with most of the net open.
Then with 4:31 to go, Caleb Jones -- the brother of Seth Jones -- struck the dagger. The defenseman's long shot from the right point hit a Blue Jackets stick in the circle and redirected past Korpisalo to make it a 2-0 game. Connor McDavid added a third with 3:35 to go, as the Blue Jackets lost the puck in the corner while trying to push forward and Zach Kassian fed the 2017 Hart Trophy winner at the side of the net for a tap-in home.
Columbus got its lone goal with 59.0 seconds to go as Nyquist came in alone on a breakaway with the teams skating 4-on-4. Koskinen stopped his original shot, but Nyquist chased down the rebound and fired it home to break up the shutout.
Edmonton then set the final score with 29.7 seconds left to go as Riley Sheahan tallied an empty-net goal.
1. The word of the day would be frustrating, as in it was frustrating to see Koskinen make 46 stops in a game the Blue Jackets dominated, if head coach John Tortorella allowed that word to be used around his team. Indeed, Columbus did a lot of good things, and Tortorella said after the game, "I don't think we could have played any better." A cynic would say the team could have scored goals, but it didn't seem to be for a lack of trying. Koskinen was excellent, while Columbus had a few chances that just went awry, from Bemstrom's two gilded chances to Werenski's look in front that he couldn't quite get all of in the third period. It's easy to say the team has to bear down more when the chances come, but sometimes they just don't go. "I think everyone tries to score when you get a chance out there," Nyquist said. "He made some good saves. We just have to be better when we get the chances."
2. Columbus had turned in some woeful performances against Edmonton in recent years, but this effort was nothing like some of the previous losses. That was evident in the defensive effort, as the Blue Jackets never really let the Oilers' explosive offense get going. Even with Ryan Murray ruled out early in the day, Draisaitl was kept off the scoresheet and McDavid was largely a nonfactor until his late goal as the CBJ scrambled to try to create offense. Edmonton was held to 24 shots on goal, just 13 in the first two periods. "I just thought we checked well as a team," Werenski said. "I thought defensively we were sharp, we had good sticks. All the little things that make us successful, we were doing tonight." It was the second straight game in which the defensive attention to detail was improved.
3. Well, we've been here before. A year ago, Columbus left Edmonton after a frustrating loss for Vancouver, then posted a dominant win to kick off seven wins in eight games to close the season and earn a playoff bid. This time, there's 13 games to go, and there is another major difference -- such names as Jones, Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Josh Anderson, Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene aren't at the CBJ's disposal as they were a season ago. The good news is Columbus has seemingly found its game at the right time, as the back-to-back efforts in Alberta featured strong territorial and defensive play, by and large. But the story of the final weeks of the season will be if the Blue Jackets, who retain a wild card spot, can find enough offense to make it work.
The team's 47 shots on goal tied for the second most in a game this season, matching a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Dec. 5. Columbus has lost the three games this season in which it has the most shots on goal. ... Columbus finished 0-for-3 on the power play while Edmonton's league-leading PP was 0-for-1. ... Korpisalo finished with 20 saves. ... Columbus has just three goals in the last four games vs. Edmonton and lost all four. ... The Blue Jackets are in the midst of a stretch of six straight games vs. Western Conference foes. … The Blue Jackets are a combined 11-4-2 on Western Canada trips since 2014-15.
Columbus made one change to the lineup, with Murray sitting out because of injury. He was replaced in the defensive corps by Markus Nutivaara. Healthy scratches in Edmonton included forward Ryan MacInnis, defenseman Gabriel Carlsson and goalie Matiss Kivlenieks, as Elvis Merzlikins returned from injury to back up Korpisalo.
The Blue Jackets conclude the Western Canada trip Sunday night with a game in Vancouver at 10 p.m. ET.