Tonight marked the first meeting of the year between the Hurricanes and the league leading Columbus Blue Jackets. Not only that, but two of the ‘Canes next five games following this one would be against the Jackets.
This evening’s contest was the first time Carolina would have a chance to make an impression against the top team in the league, but early on they fell very short in that pursuit.
The Blue Jackets drew first blood as Cam Atkinson beat Cam Ward on a wraparound for his 20th of the year. The assists on the goal went to Jack Johnson and Boone Jenner.
The Hurricanes went to the game’s first power play, but they were unable to generate much in the way of a quality scoring chance.
The game’s second penalty was charged to Sebastian Aho, which opened the door for a match-up between the league’s top power play against the top penalty kill. The Hurricanes won the first battle, as the penalty was killed off without incident.
The shots on goal were three to two in favor of the Blue Jackets 14 minutes into the period when Brandon Dubinsky was whistled for high-sticking, but just 30 seconds into the Carolina power play, Jeff Skinner took a penalty and ended the man advantage situation early.
In the dying minutes of the first period, it appeared that the Blue Jackets may have found a second goal, on another wraparound situation from Atkinson, but the call on the ice was no goal, and that probably saved the Hurricanes from being down by two as the play was ruled to be inconclusive upon further review.
After one, the ‘Canes continued to trail by a goal. The shots for the period ended 6-4 in favor of Columbus.
The second period started off with the Blue Jackets continuing to control play, but that changed quickly as the Hurricanes moved the puck down the ice with more regularity. It wasn’t long after that that Jeff Skinner tied the game at one with his 15th goal of the season. The goal came with assists from Victor Rask and Derek Ryan.
The top line quickly struck again after yet another successful penalty kill as this time it was Ryan from Rask and Skinner. The goal was Ryan’s eighth on the season.
Columbus would answer though on a fluky, unassisted goal from winger Josh Anderson. Both goals from Columbus to this point were probably ones that Ward would like to have back.
Later on in the period, Jack Johnson was set to be called for a hooking penalty after taking down Elias Lindholm, but on the delayed call sequence, Brock McGinn finished off a centering feed from Matt Tennyson to put the Hurricanes ahead 3-2.
Right before the end of the period, as the Hurricanes were attempting to change lines, Skinner got caught out there a bit too long. On a rush, he and Pesce turned the puck over. This led to a 2-on-1 the other way for the Jackets. Brandon Saad capitalized, as he put one through Ward for the tie.
The second period ended in a 3-3 tie with the Hurricanes holding an 18-14 advantage in shots on goal.
The offensive onslaught continued into the early stages of the third period, as Elias Lindholm ripped a shot off Jordan Staal and past Forsberg to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 edge at 3:50 of the 3rd period.
The third period continued to the halfway point in the third with both teams pretty much trading chances. Columbus wasn’t doing a whole lot to establish a push, but Carolina wasn’t completely dominating by any means.
That changed a bit after the halfway mark as there was a prolonged stretch of minor defensive breakdowns in the Carolina end and the shots started to pile up for Columbus. Ward was equal to the task for a while, and then the ‘Canes began to right the ship as they set up shop in the Columbus end and forced Forsberg to make some saves to keep the score at 4-3.
Forsberg vacated the net with 1:50 to go in the third. This was followed by the Blue Jackets using their timeout with 59.4 to play. The defense stood tall and the Hurricanes were able to hang on, as Rask buried the empty netter off a feed from Skinner to give the Hurricanes a 5-3 lead they would not relinquish.
Rank the Performances
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