Elvis Merzlikins was as sharp as the new uniform combination, but the Columbus Blue Jackets fell to the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime Saturday night in Raleigh by a score of 2-1.
Dougie Hamilton scored the game winner in the final minute of overtime, when he beat Merzlikins on a breakaway that followed sloppy puck management by Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic. Hamilton picked up the first star of the game for his efforts.
Columbus got the scoring started early, when Max Domi scored just three minutes into the game to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead. The goal was Domi's 8th the season, with assists from Oliver Bjorkstrand and Eric Robinson.
Carolina would tie it late in the period, and the teams would play the final two periods of regulation without a goal as both goaltenders were hot throughout the night.
The Hurricanes were able to manage just five shots on goal during the second period, but had 30 heading into the overtime period. It was the 14th time in the last 15 games that Columbus gave up at least 30 shots in the game. Merzlikins stopped 29 of the 30 shots in regulation, and finished the night with 31 saves on 33 saves.
The game marked the final of eight meetings between the two teams this season. After the first three were decided in regulation, four of the last five games went to overtime.
Columbus ended the season 3-3-2 against the Hurricanes, whose win solidified their position atop the Central Division standings as the season enters its final week. Despite being last in the division, the Blue Jackets picked up exactly half of the 16 possible points against the Hurricanes, who own the best record in the entire NHL, on the season.
Four games left this season, all at Nationwide Arena. First up is a Monday night match with the Nashville Predators. Puck drop is set for 7:00 P.M.