The Blue Jackets extended their point streak to three games with a 3-2 overtime loss in the United Center on Friday night.
Game in a Paragraph
The Blue Jackets had the energy all night and battled back from a first-period deficit to take a 2-1 advantage early in the third period. But Chicago tied it on the power play with 12 minutes to go, and the teams skated it out to overtime from there. Chicago needed 46 seconds to win it in OT as Jonathan Toews scored when a rebound bounced in off his shin pad.
Video: CBJ Recap: Dubois, Nutivaara score in 3-2 OT loss
Quote of the Game
Nick Foligno: "I thought (goaltender Elvis Merzlikins) played well in handling some pretty good firepower over there. I thought everyone did. I really liked a lot of minutes from a lot of guys. There's lots to like about our team right now."
- Pierre-Luc Dubois scored for the third time in four games, becoming second fastest in CBJ history to 50 career goals (Rick Nash needed 133, Dubois 171).
- Markus Nutivaara scored his second goal in the last three games.
- Elvis Merzlikins made his second career start and made 30 saves.
Columbus had the jump early and peppered Chicago goalie Robin Lehner through the opening minutes, with excellent chances or clean looks for Emil Bemstrom, Riley Nash, Alexander Wennberg and Gustav Nyquist. But Lehner was equal to the task, as was Merzlikins, who denied Brandon Saad on a doorstep tip on the game's first shift.
Chicago eventually did grab the 1-0 lead, though, 15:35 into the game as an excellent breakout pass from Alex DeBrincat finding Drake Caggiula entering the zone. Caggiula had time and fired from the left dot over Merzlikins' glove, off the crossbar and in.
The Blue Jackets, thanks in part to excellent efforts from Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner and Seth Jones, killed a 5-on-3 during the last 1:06 of the first to keep it a 1-0 game.
Wennberg had another good chance early in the second as his pass came back to him and he fired quickly, but Lehner made the stop.
Finally, the dam burst at the 5:33 mark of the period. It was a fantastic individual effort by Dubois, who poked the puck by Connor Murphy, fought off the Chicago defenseman, then won the race to the puck with Lehner before firing into the open cage.
Columbus took a 2-1 lead just 2:55 into the third as Nutivaara tallied. He had room as he skated into the offensive zone, so he fired a shot that Lehner stopped, but the CBJ defenseman followed the puck and chipped the rebound over the Blackhawks goalie.
Foligno thought he'd scored on a shorthanded breakaway but his goal was waved off because the whistle had blown, and Chicago then knotted the score at 8:08 of the frame with a power-play goal. With Seth Jones in the box for tripping, Patrick Kane fed a perfect feed across the zone to Alex DeBrincat in the left circle, and the young American made no mistake as he fired the one-timer by Merzlikins.
The teams went to overtime from there, and Chicago won it on a lucky goal. Merzlikins denied a shot by Kane, but it bounced into the leg of Toews and into the net for the winner.
1. Elvis' rebound: Merzlikins' debut was a "nightmare," to use the term the goaltender did after the game. The Latvian in his first NHL season gave up seven goals in a loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 5 and then didn't play until facing the Blackhawks, but this was quite a bounceback effort. Merzlikins was much more in command and got a much better defensive effort from the team in front of him, and it was unfortunate he picked up the loss on such a tough bounce in the end. But both he and teammates were happy things were better this time around. "He should be very proud of himself. He played a very good game, gave us a chance to win," Dubois said. Meanwhile, Merzlikins said he now considers this his NHL debut. "It was better," he said. "It wasn't seven goals, it was just three, so that's positive. I have to keep working hard and when I get my next chance, try to win."
2. A solid game: If the Blue Jackets keep playing like that, the team will win a lot of games. The Blue Jackets never let Chicago's offense get going and had plenty of scoring chances, and Lehner had to make a number of excellent saves and some lucky ones, too, to keep the Blue Jackets from pulling away. The downside, of course, is not picking up the full complement of two points. "It was of course important (to get one point)," Nutivaara said, "but it feels so weird and bad to lose a game that you controlled and think you played a good game."
3. More than scoring chances: It feels like the Blue Jackets will look at the sheet of scoring chances and it will be quite full, but the downside of that is the Blue Jackets put just two in the net. Columbus is now at 2.29 goals per game, third worst in the NHL. But players often say that the real worry is when scoring chances dry up, so there is good news the Blue Jackets are creating. Finishing, then, is the next step. "It's positive that we're getting scoring chances," Dubois said. "We're doing something right. We have a lot of good players in here. We're not getting too scared. We're confident, we just have to keep going."
Columbus finished 0-4 on the power play and had 39 shots on goal. ... Emil Bemstrom led Columbus with six shots on goal, while Kane had nine for Chicago. ... Dubois scored in Chicago for the second season in a row. … Nyquist assisted on Dubois' goal, giving him an assist in three straight games. ... Bjorkstrand was originally credited with an assist on Nutivaara's goal, which would have been his 100th career point, but upon further review the helper was removed. ... The Blue Jackets fell to 29-17 all-time in 3-on-3 overtime. ... The two teams have split the season series four years in a row.
Forward Markus Hannikainen and defensemen Scott Harrington and Dean Kukan were the healthy scratches, while Josh Anderson (injured reserve, upper-body injury) traveled with the team but did not play.
Columbus returns home on Saturday night for a game vs. the New York Islanders. The Blue Jackets will celebrate First Responders Night at Nationwide Arena as well.