Despite a slow start playing with a young, inexperienced roster, the Jackets find a way to come within two goals of Ovechkin's Capitals.
COLUMBUS- The Blue Jackets played their last home game until the season opener next Thursday, when they welcome the Philadelphia Flyers to Nationwide Arena.
Before we can get into the details of the season opener (and I promise, we will!), tonight's game is worth a recap.
The lineup used in this game is quite different than the one used in Wednesday's matchup versus the Sabres.
The Blue Jackets looked rough in the first, with a ton of turnovers and very little offensive zone time. Washington CAPITALized (see what I did there?) just shy of the 10-minute mark with a goal from 23-year-old Riley Sutter.
Four minutes later, Washington struck again, this time with big-man Aliaksei Protas. The Caps went into the intermission carrying a 2-0 lead.
The Jackets woke up a bit in the second period, and Brandon Gaunce scored his first of the preseason at 1:25 in, amidst a net-front battle in which he got the last whack at the puck. There was a lot more puck possession for the Blue Jackets in the second period, but goalie Charlie Lindgren had an answer for 10 out of the 11 shots he faced in that frame.
Speaking of goalies, Spencer Martin made his (preseason) debut for the Jackets, and he was impressive, turning away 34 out of 37 shots. "Our guys think highly of him... If (Martin) continues like this, he's a real good option for us," said coach Pascal Vincent.
Vincent went on to inform us that there is still no word on when Tarasov's return from injury will be. Now back to the game...
The Jackets picked up where they left off to start the third period. Nick Blankenburg showed some serious grit when he blocked a shot on the inside of his left leg and finished the 45-second shift on the penalty kill. After that, things started to go downhill.
With under six minutes left, the Jackets were on the power play. Adam Boqvist tried to go D to D, but the defenseman he was looking for had gone off for a change. This sent Riley Sutter on a breakaway, and Sutter was able to jam in his own rebound for his second goal of the night.
Goalie Spencer Martin was pulled for an extra attacker about two minutes after that, and Hendrix Lapierre put the puck into the empty net to seal the deal for the Caps.
Despite things looking pretty bleak, Marcus Bjork scored a beautiful goal cut the lead down to two with just over a minute left. It didn't matter much; the Caps took home the 4-2 victory.
- The third line (Meyer-McKown-Foudy) was the best for the Jackets in this game. Even if they didn't show up on the stat sheet, they created a ton of offensive zone pressure.
- Malatesta looked much more physical tonight than he has in previous games.
- I've said it before, and I'll say it again... Voronkov is huge. As Jack Roslovic put it, there is also some real "talent under the hood".
- Blankenburg is a warrior.
- Assuming Daniil Tarasov is not healthy to start the year, I expect to see Martin in as a backup.
The Blue Jackets take on Washington again on Saturday, this time at Capital One Arena in D.C.
It is assumed that the roster will look like the one on Wednesday night, with mostly guys that will be on the team come opening night. Cuts will likely take place over the next few days.
After Saturday's matchup, attention will turn to the start of the regular season. The Jackets host the Flyers at Nationwide Arena on Thursday, October 12th, at 7 p.m.
Pregame festivities start at 3:30 p.m. on the main plaza outside the front doors of Nationwide.
-Ian Phillips (@ianphillips9) for Yamo Media