Sunday night, in front of 17,894 fans at Nationwide Arena, the Columbus Blue Jackets chased the game and their opponents only to fall short by the score of 4-3 to the Nashville Predators. The loss puts the Blue Jackets at an even 3-3 on their current seven-game homestand, while the Predators finished their mini two-game road trip 1-1. The Columbus will head into their five-day bye and finish with a game Saturday against the New York Islanders. The Predators now head home for four games starting Tuesday night against Calgary.
Ryan Ellis, Kevin Fiala, Calle Jarnkrok and Mattias Ekholm all scored for the Predators, who have now taken a 7-6 lead in the overall series. Jusse Saros shined and stopped 35 shots in the win. Brandon Saad, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Zach Werenski all scored for the Blue Jackets. Werenski earned his first career three-point night.
The Blue Jackets looked to continue their momentum from Friday’s overtime win against the Penguins. But it was the Predators who struck first. Just 2:24 in, Ryan Ellis opened the scoring with authority where from the center point, Ellis blasted a one-timer past Bobrovsky to make it 1-0.
In the early going, the Predators defense were active making things happen. They were all over the Blue Jackets. Then the tide turned the Blue Jackets way.
Although the Blue Jackets didn’t score, they had the better of the play for the rest of the period. Cam Atkinson had a couple great chances, including one that bounced over his stick. Then David Savard beat Predators goalie Jusse Saros, but not the goal post. It went that way for a while as Saros got a little puck luck and was forced to make several key saves.
By the end of the first period, the Blue Jackets outshot the Predators 19-7. With the Predators on less than 24 hours rest, it appeared that Columbus might have Nashville on the ropes and a tired Predators team would eventually succumb to the pressure.
If goals were what you were looking for, this second period was just for you. After a slow first nine minutes, the teams combined for four goals in the eight. It started with a gamble gone wrong.
Alexander Wennberg tried passing the puck out, only to have it deflect to a wide-open Kevin Fiala. Fiala waited out Bobrovsky as he dove out and slid the puck into the net to make it 2-0. Less than a minute later, Brandon Saad answered. He tipped home a Seth Jones shot to make it 2-1.
Five minutes later, Calle Jarnkrok took advantage of a Bobrovsky misplay. Bobrovsky tried to cover the puck with his glove, only to see the puck go across the crease to Jarnkrok. He slipped the puck in to make it 3-1. Then — the best Jacket of the night to that point — Oliver Bjorkstrand cut the deficit to 3-2 by powering a shot past Saros.
Although Bobrovsky had his bad moments, he made two huge saves on breakdowns to keep the Jackets in it. On both occasions, the Blue Jackets scored soon afterward. In a reversal of the first period, shots in the second were 15-9 Predators and Nashville cut the total to 28-22 for the Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets got the best start they could hope for with an early marker to tie the game. Zach Werenski got the tying goal and his third point of the night on a great play. He received a great pass from Wennberg and beat Saros with a wrist shot. The Blue Jackets seemed to have the momentum.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, their momentum didn’t last thanks to some unforced errors on their part. A bad line change led directly to the winning goal for the Predators. Filip Forsberg weaved into the zone and found an open Mattias Ekholm. Ekholm made no mistake on the shot to give the Predators a 4-3 win.
Despite a late Blue Jackets surge, they could not tie the score. The Blue Jackets finished with a 38-32 shots advantage for the game. Saros finished with 35 saves.
NSH – Ryan Ellis (9) assisted by Roman Josi and James Neal
NSH – Kevin Fiala (7) assisted by Mike Fisher
CBJ – Brandon Saad (18) assisted by Seth Jones and Zach Werenski
NSH – Calle Jarnkrok (12) assisted by James Neal and P.K. Subban
CBJ – Oliver Bjorkstrand (2) assisted by Alex Wennberg and Zach Werenski
CBJ – Zach Werenski (9) assisted by Alexander Wennberg and Seth Jones
NSH – Mattias Ekholm (3) assisted by Filip Forsberg and P.K. Subban
THW Three Stars
First: Calle Jarnkrok (goal)
Second: Zach Werenski (goal, 2 assists)
Third: Jusse Saros (35 saves on 38 shots)
New York Islanders at Columbus Blue Jackets
Nationwide Arena, 5:00 PM EST on Saturday, Feb. 25
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and MSG+
2016-17 Meeting: Blue Jackets defeated Islanders 6-2 on Dec. 10
Islanders defeated Blue Jackets 4-2 on Jan. 24
Calgary Flames at Nashville Predators
Bridgestone Arena, 7:00 PM CST on Tuesday, Feb. 21
TV Broadcast Channels: Sportsnet West and Fox Sports Tennessee
2016-17 Meeting: Predators defeated Flames 4-3 on Jan. 19