The Columbus Blue Jackets embarked on a three-game road trip starting with Thursday's latest test at the Carolina Hurricanes. Already having won the first two games of the season series at Nationwide Arena by a cumulative score of 12-5, the Hurricanes were going for three in a row at PNC Arena.
What a bloodbath this one would be.
Elvis Merzlikins made his first start since Dec. 30 stopping all 31 shots as the Blue Jackets showed up—and showed out—on national television with a 6-0 win over the Hurricanes, snapping their six-game point streak. Frederik Andersen started the game for Carolina before being pulled in the third period. He made 28 saves on 32 shots.
Band Back Together
With Alexandre Texier's addition into the lineup and off the COVID list, that meant for a brief moment that there were no Blue Jackets in COVID protocol. Then we learned Jake Voracek was added to the protocol.
Still, the team is as healthy as they've been in quite some time.
Texier had a breakaway chance in the first period and he tried to use his patented shootout move for the goal but Andersen wasn't having it. He did have one assist and two shots in 13:34.
Alexandre Texier tries his patented shootout fire poker move on a breakaway. Now that takes some stones.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) January 14, 2022
Freddie says no though. pic.twitter.com/rg3Ih6qkti
Texier is a man on a mission this year and definitely in this game. He draws a penalty on a near break and the Blue Jackets head back to the power play. #CBJ— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) January 14, 2022
It's also great seeing offensive contributions by Emil Bemstrom, who scored his first goal of the season, and Yegor Chinakhov. Chinakhov had two goals Thursday, with three in his last three games and now has four goals this season.
This team is young but they showed Thursday they can be dangerous.
Elvis Merzlikins’ Triumph
Merzlikins made two key stops in the first period on one play and you wouldn't have guessed he missed time with a lower-body ailment. He and the Blue Jackets played a spirited first period, and both got better as the game went on.
It was already a longshot to expect a win against one of the best teams in the entire league. Let alone with Merzlikins making his first start of the new year against one of the hottest teams.
Then a shutout on top of it?
Merzlikins picks up his second shutout (ninth career) in his 13th win of the season as the Blue Jackets pick up their best win of the season to improve back to .500 at 17-17-1.
Into The Eye
This nationally televised game was a high-energy 60-minute display. As good as the Hurricanes are, the Blue Jackets were able to keep right there with them from the start. And then blow them out.
Columbus 19 shots on goal is the most theyve had in the first period this season. #CBJ— CBJ Stats (@BlueJacketStats) January 14, 2022
Merzlikins stole the show with stop after stop. The Blue Jackets had five goals from players 23 years of age and under, and a sixth to cap it off by 24-year-old Jack Roslovic (sixth goal of the season) sealed this victory. Patrik Laine picked up his fifth goal of the season on a rocket slapshot.
With the energy in this building and how fired up both teams were there to end the first, this could be a fun final 40.— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) January 14, 2022
Stats from the first 20 with help from @NatStatTrick:
Shots on goal: 19-10 #CBJ
Shot attempts (5x5): 25-17 CBJ
xG (5x5): 2.49-0.68 CBJ
What a period.
Numbers after 40 minutes (with help from @NatStatTrick)— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) January 14, 2022
Shots on goal: 27-19 #CBJ
Shot attempts (5x5): 40-30 #CBJ
xG (5x5): 3.05-1.31 #CBJ
Solid effort so far. Elvis has made some doozies but Jackets doing a lot of good things.
Both teams were 0-for-1 on the power play. The Hurricanes have killed off 30 consecutive penalties as they close in on a franchise-record 36 straight kills.
In the third period, the Blue Jackets poured it on with three goals in 67 seconds (second-fastest three-goal span), and four for the period.
Anderson was pulled after the fourth goal—and Chinakhov's second of the game—as Jack LaFontaine made his NHL debut in relief (part of an NHL record). Cole Sillinger greeted the 24-year-old to the NHL 30 seconds later with his sixth goal of the season.
- The Blue Jackets had points from 12 different players.
- It’s the first time this season the Hurricanes have been shut out or allowed six goals in a game.
- Sean Kuraly led the team with four shots on goal. Brendan Smith led the game with five shots.
- Vladislav Gavrikov was +4.
The Blue Jackets are off to Sunrise to battle the Florida Panthers on Saturday at 6:00 pm EST from FLA Live Arena. The Panthers host the Dallas Stars on Friday.