The Columbus Blue Jackets found themselves in familiar territory Tuesday night in Edmonton. After two periods, they found themselves tied with the Oilers.
Turns out the Blue Jackets had the Oilers right where they wanted them.
Third period goals by Cam Atkinson and Matt Calvert propelled the Blue Jackets to a 3-1 win. With the win, the Blue Jackets have won seven-in-a-row and have points in nine straight games (8-0-1). Sergei Bobrovsky was magnificent, stopping 33 of 34 Oilers shots, only allowing a first period goal to Tyler Pitlick. Bobrovsky now leads the NHL in wins with 17. John Tortorella also recorded his 498th career win as coach.
Both teams got an early opportunity to flex their power-play muscles. The Blue Jackets were on the man advantage just 10 seconds into the game as Patrick Maroon clipped Jack Johnson with a high stick. But Columbus could not cash in. About five minutes later, former Oiler Sam Gagner took a tripping call. The Oilers couldn’t do anything with their advantage.
But soon after the penalty expired, the Oilers took advantage of a good line change. Tyler Pitlick came racing off the bench and made a straight line to the front of the net. Zack Kassian put the puck near the net. Mark Letestu chipped the puck and Pitlick stuffed it past Sergei Bobrovsky for a 1-0 lead.
The end of the period will be most remembered as the high-sticking call that should have never happened. At 19:49, the referee called a double minor on Jack Johnson as Connor McDavid got hit with a stick in the face. Problem is, the stick was that of Milan Lucic. No power play should have come from that. Instead, the Oilers carry 3:49 of power-play time into the second period. The Oilers outshot the Blue Jackets 11-5 in the period.
The Blue Jackets answered the bell to start the second period. They successfully killed the remaining 3:49 of the Oilers power play, thanks in large part to the effort of Bobrovsky. David Savard broke his stick, and played the end of the kill with Matt Calvert’s stick. Columbus finally settled into their game after this kill.
Eventually, it was Columbus who would get their chance with a man advantage. With Leon Draisaitl in the box, the former Oiler Sam Gagner scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season deflecting an Alexander Wennberg pass off his skate and past Cam Talbot. This tied the score at one.
The Blue Jackets used the goal to gain momentum for the rest of the period. Although no goals were scored, the Blue Jackets had the better of the play. The Oilers had eight shots on their power-play to start the period. After that, the Blue Jackets outshot the Oilers 11-7. Overall, the Oilers held a 26-17 shot advantage after 40 minutes.
The Blue Jackets continued their brilliance in the third period Tuesday by scoring twice, including a beauty of a power-play goal by Cam Atkinson. He found himself open in the left circle, and buried a slapper past Talbot.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 14, 2016
Less than two minutes later, Matt Calvert streaks down the right side and puts a dagger in the hearts of Oilers fans by giving Columbus a two-goal lead. The Blue Jackets were up 13-0 in shots at one point in the third. They have now outscored their opponents 22-4 in the third period in their last 14 games, including 6-0 in just their last two games. They know how to close the deal. With the win, the Blue Jackets now have a record of 18-5-4. That’s the first time in club history that they’ve been 13 games over .500 at any point in a season.
EDM – Tyler Pitlick (7) assisted by Mark Letestu and Zack Kassian.
CBJ – Sam Gagner (12) assisted by Alexander Wennberg and Zach Werenski
CBJ – Cam Atkinson (11) assisted by Sam Gagner and Alexander Wennberg
CBJ – Matt Calvert (3) assisted by Josh Anderson
THW Three Stars
First: Sergei Bobrovsky (33 saves on 34 shots)
Second: Sam Gagner (G, A)
Third: Alexander Wennberg (2A)
Columbus Blue Jackets at Calgary Flames
Scotiabank Saddledome, 9:00 PM EST on Friday, Dec. 16
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and Sportsnet West
2016-17 Meeting: First of the season
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.