Blue Jackets Fall to Senators; Forsberg Outduels Merzlikins

By Jacob Nitzberg on January 23, 2022 at 8:28 pm
Jan 23, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Boone Jenner (38) tries to maintain control of the puck as he falls to the ice with Ottawa Senators center Adam Gaudette (17) in the second period at Nationwide Arena.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the NHL, where the unexpected occurs daily.

Tonight, former Blue Jacket Anton Forsberg outdueled Elvis Merzlikins as the Ottawa Senators marched into Nationwide Arena and defeated the Blue Jackets, 2-1.

Forsberg played poorly for the vast majority of his time in Columbus. In ten games (nine starts) over three seasons between 2014 and 2017, he went 1-8-0 with a .879 save percentage and 4.02 GAA. Tonight, he saved 35 of 36 shots, including multiple highlight-reel stops on Boone Jenner and Max Domi during a power play in the first period. Per Natural Stat Trick, the Blue Jackets generated 2.89 expected goals tonight. Forsberg held them to one.

The Blue Jackets went down early, as a shot from Senators defenseman Artem Zub made its way through traffic and past Merzlikins to give the Senators a 1-0 lead. Before the first period was over, the home team answered back via Sean Kuraly. He redirected a great feed from Jakub Voracek past Forsberg to tie things up. It was Kuraly's sixth goal of the season in his 39th game. His career-high in goals is eight, which he achieved in 71 games with the Bruins during the 2018-19 season.

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SENATORS 1 1 0 2

The second period only saw one goal, and it was for the visitors. Tim Stutzle, who was energetic and dynamic all night, raced through the neutral zone with speed and took advantage of the Blue Jackets' poor positioning. He beat Merzlikins with a backhand finish to give the Senators a 2-1 lead at 16:02 of the middle frame.

Next Up

The Blue Jackets (18-20-1, 37 points) will host the Calgary Flames (18-12-6, 42 points) on Wednesday night. Puck drop at Nationwide Arena is slated for 7:00 p.m. ET.