The Kids Are Alright: Sillinger, Chinakhov Combine On Game-Winner Against Avalanche

By Jacob Nitzberg on November 6, 2021 at 10:24 pm
Nov 6, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Yegor Chinakhov (59) celebrates after a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the third period at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Sillinger's only 18. Yegor Chinakhov's only 20.

Someone forgot to tell them that, though. 

Their maturity and skill as players are big reasons that the Blue Jackets are out to a 7-3-0 start after a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. Sillinger has tallied 4-2-6 in ten games, while Chinakhov has 0-2-2 in six. Both of Chinakhov's assists came tonight.

Neither Sillinger nor Chinakhov were expected to make the Blue Jackets roster, but it appears the Blue Jackets front office made the right decision. Last year, Sillinger was playing junior hockey, and Chinakhov was playing in the KHL. Making the jump from either of those straight to the NHL is difficult, but the two have performed quite well so far.

With just over a minute remaining on Saturday night, the Blue Jackets and Avalanche were knotted at two goals apiece. Chinakhov saw a lane, fired a wrister on net, and Sillinger was in the perfect position to deflect the puck past Avalanche netminder Darcy Kuemper. Oliver Bjorkstrand added an empty-netter to seal the game for the Blue Jackets. 

"Me and Bayreuther were talking, and he said (I should) rim the puck down low, so I shot it down low, and then (Chinakhov) made a great play going up," said Sillinger after the big win. "I knew he was shooting it, so I tried to get to the net, it hit my stick, and I tipped it in."

"It was a great game," said Sillinger. "Anytime you're down in the third and you end up winning the game, that shows our resiliency and that we're a third-period team (that can) outskate teams for 60 minutes."

Chinakhov was bumped up to Sillinger and Voracek's line tonight in Patrik Laine's usual spot. Laine will miss 4-6 weeks with an oblique strain suffered on Wednesday against the Avalanche. In his first opportunity with the Blue Jackets' de-facto top line, Chinakhov acquitted himself admirably. 

"Every guy had to step up tonight (without Laine)," said Sillinger. "I think we did that."

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