Three Things: Power Play Shines Early, Korpisalo Shines Late, And Bjorkstrand Shines Throughout

By Ed Francis on January 8, 2022 at 10:13 pm
Joonas Korpisalo struggled early, but made up for it outstanding play in the second and third periods.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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By no means was it a "must" win game, but Saturday's second half of a home-and-home between the Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils certainly felt like one that the home team needed.

They got it.

Oliver Bjorkstrand scored two goals, Jakub Voracek had two assists, and Joonas Korpisalo bounced back after a tough start as Columbus defeated New Jersey 4-3 in front of a sellout crowd at Nationwide Arena.

Here are three things from the first Columbus victory of 2022.


PP1

The Blue Jackets had one power play goal in December. There was a two week break in that, yes, but they did still have 16 attempts in the final month of 2021. Combined with an 0-for-10 start to January, and the Blue Jackets had just one power play goal over their last 26 attempts — including 0-for-21 entering Saturday's contest.

But this game was different, and not just because they snapped the streak. It; was the first time in over two months that the Blue Jackets top power play unit — the same one that had success in the first month of the season — was together again. 

Bjorkstrand with the goal, Voracek and Patrik Laine with the helpers, and Boone Jenner and Zach Werenski on the ice to celebrate the tally. As it should be, but as it hasn't been in far too long. 


Credit When It's Due: Korpi Came Up Big

Joonas Korpisalo is not having a good season, and after allowing two bad goals on just six shots in the opening period, he looked to be well on his way to another poor outing.

But Korpisalo settled down and allowed just one goal on the Devils' 24 total shots on goal in the final two frames. Some saves were better than others, but no save was better than this absolute robbery of Nico Hischier, who really should have called authorities and filed a report.

That save, in the final seconds of the second period, kept the game knotted at 3-3 and without it, the game could have had a very different ending. Despite allowing three goals on 30 shots, Korpisalo earned the third star of the night — and that save is the reason why.

That Felt Good

Have the Blue Jackets figured it out and on their way to another 12-6 stretch as they had to start the season? Probably not. But a win always feels good — especially at home — and that's what they got Saturday. Jakub Voracek celebrated Thursday’s 1000th game with friends and family, Zach Werenski returned to the lineup, the Saturday night sellout crowd was into it. Things just felt right.

And then there’s this: The Chicago Blackhawks come to town Tuesday, and when Seth Jones makes his return to Nationwide Arena, his former teammates will have a little bit of momentum on their side. 

That environment is exactly what the Blue Jackets — and the 5th Line — needed.

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