The Vancouver Canucks struck first tonight at Rogers Arena, but the Blue Jackets battled back and Scott Hartnell
’s power play goal in the third period leveled the score, 1-1, for the Jackets.
And, after 3-on-3 overtime expired (during which Columbus successfully killed off a Vancouver power play), Alexander Wennberg scored the game-deciding shootout goal on Canucks’ goaltender Ryan Miller and sealed a 2-1 victory for the Jackets.
“Chasing from behind and then tying up the game, that’s huge,” Wennberg said after the game. “And, after that, we want to win for sure. We want two points in this game and I mean (Joonas Korpisalo) had a great game and just finishing it off with a shootout… that’s big for us.”
The Jackets are now 3-1-1 in their last five match-ups, largely in part to Jackets rookie goaltender Korpisalo. The young netminder made 37 saves and was perfect in the shootout to earn his sixth win of the season tonight.
In addition to earning high praise from his teammates, Korpisalo has also continued to impress Jackets bench boss John Tortorella with his poise in between the pipes.
“He’s unflappable, just as far as his mental toughness,” Tortorella said. “It’s easy to say now, because he didn’t let one in, but it just looked like he wasn’t going to let one in. That’s the way it felt on the bench. Just a great experience for him, as far as what he’s doing for the club and for him, for himself as far as his confidence.”
The team’s overall confidence level out of the gates seemed high, but was broken up a bit after Linden Vey opened the scoring for the Canucks at 9:05 of the first period.
Vey was fed a nice cross-crease pass by Bo Horvat, beating Korpisalo on the power play and giving the home team a 1-0 lead. But that was the first and last goal the Canucks would score.
Although the Canucks held onto their lead through 40 minutes of regulation, the Jackets regained their confidence after Hartnell notched his equalizer in the third period.
Jared McCann was sent to the penalty box for hooking at 8:35 of the frame and, less than a minute later, Hartnell beat Miller at 9:06 of the third.
“I think the third period was good from us, and we had to find a way to score and the power play came up big there,” Wennberg said. “That’s a big goal for (Hartnell) and, for us, I think it’s strong coming back in this game and winning this at the end. This is a great thing to take with us to our next game.”
Wennberg set up a nice play that allowed Cam Atkinson to find Hartnell in between the hashmarks. The goal marked Hartnell’s 18th goal of the season, and his team-leading 8th power play goal of the season. Additionally, Hartnell extended his point-streak to four games.
A majority of the last few minutes of the game were spent in the Jackets’ zone, but the team was able to push the game into overtime and pick up the two much-needed points tonight.
“The biggest thing that I thought we took a step forward tonight was that we just stayed with it,” Tortorella said. “The last six or seven minutes, I felt we were a little tentative, but I thought we stayed aggressive. I don’t think we made huge mistakes that cost us in the Edmonton game.
“I thought we took a step in the right direction. Would I like to see us play a little bit more solid in the six or seven minutes of the end of the third period? Yeah. But I just thought we took a step forward in that situation tonight.”