Columbus Blue Jackets Split Weekend Home-and-Away Pair


The Columbus Blue Jackets split a pair of games over the weekend, topping the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Friday but getting shut out 3-0 by the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

The Jackets rode a seven-game losing streak into the Prudential Center to take on the Devils, yet took to the ice aggressively in pursuit of the win. Recently acquired defenseman Justin Falk opened the scoring at 6:41 of the first period, wristing one past Devils goaltender Cory Schneider. Ridiculously enough, the scoring on the goal bounced around among Jackets – even falling on Cam Atkinson for a moment despite the fact that he was on the bench during the play – before ultimately becoming Falk’s first goal of the season.

A healthy Brandon Dubinsky, having already assisted on the Falk goal, would tally one of his own early in the second period to give the good guys a two-goal lead. Two unanswered goals? Strange, but true. Until three minutes and thirty seconds later, that is, when Jordin Tootoo put a power-play shot past Sergei Bobrovsky, the result of a lame puck-over-the-glass penalty committed by Nick Foligno.

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Marko Dano put the Jackets ahead by two once again at 9:11 of the third, assisted by Alexander Wennberg and Falk. The new Jacket was having a better-than-decent night until Peter Harrold deeked past him in the latter minutes of the third period, bringing the Devils back to within one. Time would expire, however, before further damage to the score could be done.

Back at home on Saturday, the Jackets hit the ice with more of the same by falling behind the Avalanche 3-0 before 10 minutes had run off the clock. Granted, the Jackets hit Av’s goalie Semyon Varlamov with all they had, but the pesky netminder just couldn’t be beat. I hesitate to use the “sloppy play” excuse, but back-to-back penalties very early on handed the all-important first goal to Colorado’s Jarome Iginla and it was all downhill from there. Curtis McElhinney would finish out the first period in goal for the Jackets, but Bobs would take over at the start of the second.

Somewhat more intriguing than the game itself was the Saturday shuffling of players between the AHL’s Springfield Falcons. Gone from the parent club after four games was center Brian Gibbons, replaced by recently-acquired (for James Wisniewski) winger Rene Bourque. Despite some miscues early on, Bourque delivered a reasonably good performance with four shots, a hit and a blocked shot in 14:21 of ice time.

Over the course of the two games, the Jackets went on the power play five times but failed to convert. Even so, their PP% only dipped slightly to 20.3% and remains the league’s eighth-best.

According to the team’s Monday afternoon press release, defensemen Kevin Connauton and Ryan Murray are close to returning to the lineup. Both will travel with the team to Raleigh ahead of the match-up with the Caroline Hurricanes on Tuesday, but only Connauton is probable. Typically, good news comes with a bit of bad, and so it was that Jared Boll left practice early after taking a puck to the hand and a bunged-up Wenneberg did not practice. Boll is expected to play on Tuesday, but Wennberg is questionable. If he isn’t fit to go, look for a possible call-up.

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