The turkey might taste a little dry tomorrow for the Columbus Blue Jackets, who looked to extend their winning streak to three games on Wednesday as they rolled into the Prudential Center only to fall short 2-1 (SO) against the New Jersey Devils.
After a scoreless first period, Devils forward Dainius Zubrus opened the scoring four minutes into the second frame after jumping on the Curtis Sanford rebound created from Adam Larsson’s point shot. Sanford, in his third consecutive start, was solid through two periods allowing only one goal on 17 shots.
Staying true to Head Coach Scott Arniel’s “working harder without the puck” mentality, the Blue Jackets were full steam ahead in the third period outshooting the Devils 17-3. Just over five minutes into the third period, Vinny Prospal pressured Devils Captain Zack Parise leaving the defensive zone forcing a turn over. Prospal then finds Marc Methot for a point shot that is redirected by Jared “Broken Nose Ain’t Stopping Me” Boll for his first of the season. After a short review, they deemed it a good goal with no kicking motion knotting the game at one’s.
Almost immediately after the Blue Jackets goal, the team was almost rewarded again as Jeff Carter went searching for his fourth in three games only to be denied by the crossbar on a wrist shot that I think Devils goalie Martin Brodeur is still looking for.
The Devils woke up slightly in the OT frame doubling up the Blue Jackets in shots 4-2, but neither team really produced any quality scoring chances forcing the game to a shoot out.
Ilya Kovalchuk was the first shooter for the Devils beating Sanford glove side after a nice fake that dropped Sanford to the ice. Blue Jackets Captain Rick Nash was first shooter and to no surprise of myself, and apparently Brodeur, tried to fire a quick wrist shot only to be denied by a quick glove hand.
On a personal note: I would like to see Nash try something new in shootout’s, granted it looks great when it goes in. But I find him to be quite predictable for the most part. But I am zero for zero lifetime in NHL shootouts so what do I really know?
Parise was second to shoot for the Devils making a no mistake upstairs after a sweet little forehand to backhand fake that left Sanford out-to-lunch. Blue Jackets forward Mark Letestu, who is 33% (2/6) career in shootouts, was unable to beat Brodeur, who stopped 35-36 to edge the Blue Jackets for the win.
The Blue Jackets continue to grow as a unit and are playing solid hockey which has earned them six of eight points in the last four games. Most noticeable difference for me is the quality of shots being taken by the Blue Jackets, they continue to fire everything they can at goalies but are in closer proximities and are making sure to get bodies to the net. The defense struggle with hitting the net on point shots but wingers down low helped maintain puck possession.
Mention should be made to the penalty killing units of the Devils who shut down the Blue Jackets on seven power plays improving their league leading efficiency up to 96.9%.
The Blue Jackets are home for the holiday weekend with a game Friday against the Buffalo Sabres and Sunday against the St. Louis Blues. A Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American followers from yours truly up here in Canada.