Five Thoughts: Joonas Korpisalo, Zach Werenski Key to Shootout Win Over Carolina Hurricanes

By Dan Dukart on November 28, 2017 at 9:59 pm
Panarin 'nipes
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
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After a tough loss to end a six-game winning streak, the Columbus Blue Jackets bounced back with a 3-2 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

After a disastrous start in Montreal, the Jackets responded with a fast start against a division rival. The 'Canes answered on two separate occasions to send the game to overtime and eventually a shootout, but the Blue Jackets prevailed due to some timely goaltending, a dominant defensive pairing and a couple of lines that answered the bell.

Here are five thoughts about the back-and-forth win against the Hurricanes:

Werenski, Jones Dynamic

For the first time in their existence, the Columbus Blue Jackets have a legitimate top pairing. It's almost comical to remember back just a few years ago, when Seth Jones was a Nashville Predator and Zach Werenski was at the University of Michigan.

Fast forward and the pair has done more than just about anyone could have expected. Werenski paced all skaters in ice time, logging an insane 28:12, with Jones second at 28:09 (remember, this is coming in the second game in two days).

Playing that many minutes is already impressive, but that doesn't even consider the possession stats. Werenski led all Blue Jackets defenders with a 59.46% CF% (all stats 5v5 and per NaturalStatTrick). Jones was right behind at 58.97%. Simply put, when the two were on the ice, nearly 60% of all shots were directed at the bad guys' net. That's incredible.


Korpisalo stopped 29 of 31 shots and didn't make any mistakes. Both goals he gave up were on odd-man rushes that could have (should have) been prevented, and the blame shouldn't fall on the goaltender in either case.

He followed it up with a solid overtime and didn't allow a goal in the shootout, his first of the season. I feel for the kid. This was just his second start in the last month. It was his fifth start of the year, and four of them have come on the second night of a back-to-back. He played well enough to win, and that's all you can ask of a backup goaltender. 

Wennberg Impresses

It's no secret that the play of Wennberg has earned criticism this season. Heck, Tortorella himself challenged him before the game. But Wennberg looked solid in his first game back since missing six games due to injury, dishing a sweet pass to Werenski for the second goal. 

His ninth assist of the year was vintage Wennberg. The Hurricanes gave him too much time and space, and the Swede held up just inside the blue line, giving the second wave of attackers a chance to join the play, while Carolina's defense collapsed. He found Werenski late, and he made no mistake.

A healthy and producing Wennberg makes an already-dangerous team that much better. 

Found Some Lines

If you thought Josh Anderson and Cam Atkinson had an extra gear tonight, you're not alone. Two of tonight's lines, Panarin-Dubois-Anderson and Milano-Wennberg-Atkinson, were simply excellent.

Atkinson had two breakaways in regulation, but three was the charm. His shootout goal was a nice reward for a chance-filled night. Anderson was the most dangerous I can recall, and his confidence is at an all-time high. And why wouldn't it be? His nine goals leads the club. Who could have foreseen that in the summer?

The two lines provided both regulation goals, then added each of the two shootout goals. But the kicker is their possession statistics. Atkinson led all skaters with an absurd 70.83% CF%. Anderson wasn't far behind, posting a 65.22% CF%. In fact, these two lines provided the six highest CF% among forwards from either team, with Panarin's 57.69% CF% the lowest of the six.

Maybe we'll see those lines again on Friday.  

Tortorella Wins No. 100

John Tortorella made history on Tuesday evening, becoming the fastest coach in Blue Jackets history to reach the 100-win mark. Since his hiring in 2015, his record is 100-87-19, easily the best winning percentage in franchise history.

Todd Richards and Ken Hitchcock also won 100 games in Columbus, but it took each of them more than 200 games to accomplish the feat. Clearly, Tortorella has changed the culture in Columbus. 


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