Three Things: Rest Or Rust?, Getting Closer To Full Strength, A Rare Win Against Predators

By Will Chase on December 30, 2021 at 10:28 pm
Patrik Laine skates with the puck around defenseman Alexandre Carrier at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets are back!

After having five games postponed due to COVID protocols, the Blue Jackets returned to the ice at Nationwide Arena on Thursday for their first game action in exactly two weeks.

Their opponent, the Nashville Predators, played on Wednesday, losing 5-3 at the Washington Capitals.

It was going to be interesting to see how both teams played in this one since everyone, more or less, is rested and things are neutralized as teams return to play following the extended holiday pause.

Elvis Merzlikins (31 saves on 34 shots) was in the net for his seventh consecutive start opposing David Rittich (26 of 29) for the Predators as the Blue Jackets took this one 4-3 in the shootout.

Getting Back To Strength

The Blue Jackets were mostly back to full strength with the exception of a few guys still in COVID protocol. 

While Boone Jenner (one goal, one assist) returned off protocol and scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season to tie the game at one in the first period, the Blue Jackets were without Oliver Bjorkstrand who was placed in the protocol on Dec. 27.

Adam Boqvist (activated off IR Thursday) and Vladislav Gavrikov assisted on Jenner's goal. In addition to a two-point night, Jenner had four shots in 22:20 of ice time.

Eric Robinson is still in protocol, and Daniil Tarasov was the backup goalie behind Merzlikins as Joonas Korpisalo works his way back. Korpisalo is out of protocol and practiced ahead of the game on Thursday morning. 

Rest or Rust? 

Columbus only had six first period shots on goal as they showed some obvious rust, and understandably so. 

A winning formula is Laine and Jake Voracek reunited again. Jenner was part of the trio, as the three connect for the quick second period goal at 24 seconds.


The Blue Jackets have had their issues against the Predators. It looked like it might have been the same story on Thursday, yet again.

It certainly appeared that way when the ice tilted towards the Predators' favor late in the second period. On top 2-1, the Blue Jackets narrowly missed taking a 3-1 lead, but couldn't convert on a 2-on-1 break. 

A moment later, Nick Cousins tied the game at 15:31. Only 35 seconds later, the Predators took the 3-2 lead on a power play goal by Ryan Johansen (Matt Duchene, Mikael Granlund assist).

New Year's Day

The Blue Jackets will battle the Carolina Hurricanes at Nationwide Arena on Saturday, New Year's Day, at 1:00 pm ET. The Blue Jackets lost to the Hurricanes 5-1 in Columbus on Oct. 23. The Hurricanes defeated the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday 4-0 at PNC Arena.