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The Monsters Report: Eyes on First

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Injuries? No problem.

Call-ups? No problem.

It hasn’t been an easy start to the season for the Blue Jackets, and with injuries starting to come with more frequency, that means the Lake Erie Monsters are directly affected. They started the season with a relatively healthy group, but the Monsters are down two defensemen, a group of forwards have been called up to the NHL and yet they still keep rolling along.

Perhaps most impressive about the Monsters’ start is how remarkably consistent they’ve been. Their 12 wins are second-most in the Western Conference and, after Saturday’s action, they were tied for first place in the Central Division along with Rockford and Milwaukee (which has the upper hand due to 13 wins).

The Monsters are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games and they’ve been getting the job done by any means necessary. Two wins this week over Manitoba continued their roll at home, winning 4-2 and 4-1 on Wednesday and Friday, respectively. In those games, they (again) got solid goaltending and their special teams work has also been strong.

Friday’s game was a memorable one for Blue Jackets prospect Nick Moutrey, who tallied his first professional goal and added another on Saturday night against Grand Rapids (a 3-2 road loss).

Lake Erie fell behind 90 seconds into that game, but an offensive burst in the second period coupled with Korpisalo’s play in net helped the home team to two points in front of 10,551 at Quicken Loans Arena.

From the Monsters: In the middle frame, the Monsters unleashed three unanswered goals, first from Michael Chaput at 0:54, assisted by Sonny Milano and Jaime Sifers. Then, Nick Moutrey supplied his first AHL tally, a power-play score assisted by Michael Paliotta and Alex Broadhurst at 15:32, before Ryan Craig buried his fifth of the season, set up by Josh Anderson and Dillon Heatherington, at 18:28, staking the Monsters to a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission. A Milano deflection at 9:36, assisted by Paliotta and Daniel Zaar, capped the scoring at 4-1 Monsters.

A few other things to catch up on:

- Joonas Korpisalo has been part of the Monsters’ two-headed goaltending, uh, monster, along with Anton Forsberg – but he’s making a strong case for more time between the pipes. Korpisalo (5-2-2) leads the entire AHL in save percentage at .941, has two shutouts and has been terrific in his nine appearances.

- The Monsters begin a three-in-three weekend on Thursday at The Q when they take on the Iowa Wild in a two-game series before heading to Grand Rapids on Saturday. Iowa and Lake Erie have already met six times (!) this season and they’ll get even more familiar with each other this weekend.

- The Monsters are 5-0-1 against Iowa in those six games, the lone defeat a 1-0 shootout loss back on Oct. 17.

- TJ Tynan (13 points in 19 games) is the Monsters’ current leading scorer, and he’s been asked to carry a lot of the offensive responsibility with the likes of Kerby Rychel, Markus Hannikainen and previously Josh Anderson called up to Columbus.

- One note on Hannikainen: he suffered an upper body injury during Saturday’s game in St. Louis and did not return. Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella did not have an immediate update on his status following the game.

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