What an encore.
Going for two wins in a row, the Columbus Blue Jackets were back at Nationwide Arena on Thursday night to take on the Nashville Predators.
The Predators came in losers of three straight, falling to the Los Angeles Kings, 4-3, in a shootout on Tuesday. They started the season 2-0-0 after beating the San Jose Sharks as part of the 2022 NHL Global Series in Prague.
Head coach Brad Larsen iced the same lineup from Tuesday's victory over the Cancuks. Elvis Merzlikins made his third straight start, making 23 saves on 26 shots to backstop a 5-3 win. Kevin Lankinen was in the net for Nashville, stopping 37 of 41 shots.
No Time For Sleep
The Blue Jackets sleepily made their way through Tuesday's first period before coming alive and escaping with their first win of the season against the Vancouver Canucks.
So how was the energy on Thursday?
Just like on Tuesday, the Blue Jackets found themselves down a pair of goals early. In the first period, Tanner Jeannot (Colton Sissons, Yakov Trenin) scored at 3:16 and Ryan Johansen (Mattias Ekholm, Nino Niederreiter) scored at 10:45.
A potential third goal by Roman Josi was nullified after the Predators were caught off-sides via Larsen's successful second period challenge.
The early troubling trend continues against the league's top opponents and the Jackets need to figure out how to play a full 60 minutes from the start. Fortunately, they've been able to bail themselves out of the early hole.
It's probably not very surprising to say the power play is struggling. That's been the case since the middle of the 2016-17 season.
But with as much firepower and offensive potential as that unit has, it seems like a matter of time before the scoring erupts. For now, the Blue Jackets will be the last team in the entire league to register a goal with the man advantage. Whenever that elusive first goal happens.
Columbus was 0-for-3 on Thursday.
Jake Bean's (Kent Johnson, Yegor Chinakhov) second period goal came just as their second power play chance expired at 16:09.
Conversely, the Predators had three first period power play opportunities, although the penalty to Erik Gudbranson came at 19:51 of the first and spilled over unto the second period. Entering play, the Predators are 31st (4.8%) in the league on the power play, and had no answer on five chances.
Playing catchup once again, things ended up playing out as a carbon copy of Tuesday's contest.
Johnny Gaudreau scored the first of two third period goals. His first tally extended a four-game point streak (four goals, two assists) to get the Blue Jackets within one of the lead just 38 seconds into the third period. On the play, Nick Blankenburg made his impact felt with the lead pass to Gaudreau who buried the breakaway.
Justin Danforth tied the game with his second goal of the season at 12:07. Chinakhov earned his second assist of the game and team-leading fourth of the season. Andrew Peeke also earned his first assist.
Then Blankenburg (Jake Voracek, Jack Roslovic) came away with the game-winning goal at 18:37 to continue a huge past two games.
Gaudreau (Gus Nyquist) scored his second goal on the empty-net goal to seal the win at 19:14 of the third period.
The Blue Jackets take on the Pittsburgh Penguins from Nationwide Arena on Saturday at 7:00 pm ET. The Penguins beat the Kings 6-1 in Pittsburgh on Thursday.