Elvis Merzlikins Turns In Seventh Career Shutout To Propel Blue Jackets

By Jacob Nitzberg on April 27, 2021 at 11:10 pm
Apr 27, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (90) makes a save in net against Detroit Red Wings left winger Jakub Vrana (15) in the overtime period at Nationwide Arena.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

A 0-0 game may seem boring, at a glance, but tonight's contest between the Blue Jackets and Red Wings was anything but.

Despite no goals being scored in regulation or overtime, both teams generated a significant amount of chances, but Elvis Merzlikins and Thomas Greiss both put together 65-minute shutouts. However, it was Merzlikins that would prevail in the shootout, stopping both skaters that he faced as Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstrand scored their attempts to give the Blue Jackets their first win in ten games.

Merzlikins stopped all 41 shots he faced, plus the two shootout attempts from Jakub Vrana and Adam Erne. It was the Latvian netminder's second shutout of the season, and the seventh of his NHL career. 

"(Winning) feels really great," said Merzlikins. It's what we needed. I think everybody was really battling and fighting, so I'm really happy for the boys."

The Blue Jackets snapped a nine-game losing streak tonight, and you could tell how badly everyone in the organization needed it. Last Thursday, Merzlikins gave an emotional postgame, discussing how the losing streak was taking an emotional toll on him and the rest of the locker room. It was a different mood from the team tonight.

"I felt comfortable," said Merzlikins. "The first period I didn't have so many shots, got a little bit nervous against myself after that first shot (that went) five-hole that I didn't know whether it was in or out...but then I just kept playing and tried to have fun."

After the game, Merzlikins didn't have his typical celebration partner, Nick Foligno. So, he improvised. 

The jump hug isn't the same when there's just one party involved, but Merzlikins decided that it had to be done.

"I didn't know what to do," said Merzlikins with a smile. "I'm missing Fliggy as well, so yeah. I have to think about a new routine for the next season for some of the boys."

Bjorkstrand Stays Hot...Almost

The Danish winger came into tonight's game riding a five-game point streak (1-5-6), and thought he had extended it to six after scoring in the first period. Then, things got weird.

The goal was called good on the ice, but then a review was initiated to make sure that Detroit didn't score on the prior play. The review was wrapped up, and it was deemed a good goal. 

Not so fast. 

The referees got back on the horn, and this time, it was to see if Eric Robinson was offside on the zone entry. The replay confirmed he was, so the goal was wiped off the board, and there wasn't another one scored until the shootout.

Since Bjorkstrand's goal in the first period didn't count, he made up for it in the shootout, with the game-winner past Greiss.

"I think our line really wanted a goal there," said Bjorkstrand. "We couldn't find one, but I thought we played well as a line. I thought the team played well too. At the end of the day, it's just nice that we got this win. It's good for the locker room."

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