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|Scott Arniel Post-game (10/10/11) - Mon, 10 Oct 2011|
|Maksim Mayorov Post-game (10/10/11) - Mon, 10 Oct 2011|
|Vinny Prospal Post-game (10/10/11) - Mon, 10 Oct 2011|
|Cam Atkinson Post-game (10/10/11) - Mon, 10 Oct 2011|
|Top 5 Plays of the Week: October 10 - Mon, 10 Oct 2011|
|Game Day Preview: Vancouver - Mon, 10 Oct 2011|
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If there is one common theme coming out of the Blue Jackets locker room, it is a message of playing a full 60-minute game.
Players and coaches talk about it all the time and especially at the beginning of an 82-game season. But like many things, it is easier said than done. The Blue Jackets played their two best periods of the young season tonight, laying it on the defending Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks in the first 40 minutes.
A pair of quick strikes gave the Canucks a 3-2 lead in the third period that they would not relinquish.
They were efficient and aggressive on the forecheck, forcing the Canucks into mistakes and played at a high tempo off the rush. Cam Atkinson provided the ice-breaker with his first NHL goal at the 8:42 mark of the first period. Derek MacKenzie outworked a Canucks defenseman for the puck on the wall, fed Atkinson in the slot and the rookie made no mistake for a 1-0 lead.
Chris Higgins tied the game on a re-direct late in the first period, tipping a Manny Malhotra shot top corner above Steve Mason. Vinny Prospal’s nifty wrap-around gave the Blue Jackets a much-needed 2-1 lead as the second period was winding down, but the Canucks struck twice before the third period was halfway old.
“I thought we played a good 40 minutes,” Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash said. “(In the) third period, it seemed like they turned it up a little more and we stayed the same.”
It has been a brutal schedule to open the 2011-12 season, with four games in six nights to start. But coach Scott Arniel does not want to make excuses, saying after the game that the Blue Jackets’ special teams – namely the power play – have to improve in order to have success.
“I think more than anything, (tonight) was three games in four nights for us,” Arniel said. “We had nothing left in the tank in the third period.”
Maksim Mayorov very nearly tilted the ice heavily on the Blue Jackets side early in the third period. He created a turnover in the Columbus end of the rink, started the rush into Canucks territory and snapped a wrist shot high on goaltender Cory Schneider. As Mayorov’s line mates crashed the net, Schneider fumbled the puck and it sat in the goal crease.
Vancouver defenseman Chris Tanev closed his hand on the puck in the crease, and referee Paul Devorski was quick to award a penalty shot. Of the players on the ice at the time of infraction, Arniel selected Mayorov for the attempt – the 24th penalty shot in Blue Jackets history. Mayorov - known for having one of the best wrist shots on the team - tried to beat Schneider over his glove hand side. His near-miss seemed to rejuvenate the Canucks, who were on their heels to start the third period. Hodgson tied the game just over a minute later with a snap-wrister from the left circle.
“I wasn’t surprised (that Arniel picked him for the penalty shot),” Mayorov said. “It was just good to have that chance. It’s too bad I didn’t make it.”
-The NHL’s Situation Room offered this explanation on the play that appeared to be a goal, but was deemed a penalty shot: “At 0:51 of the third period of the Canucks/Blue Jackets game, video replay saw a puck cross the Canucks goalline after a goalmouth scramble. Upon consultation with Referee Marcus Vinneborg it was determined the referee had called the play dead when defenseman Chris Tanev put his hand on the puck which was prior to the puck crossing the goalline. A penalty shot was awarded to the Blue Jackets on the play.”
-Nash on the Blue Jackets power play, which was 0-for-5 in tonight’s loss: “We had lots of chances, lots of shots. It seems like pucks aren’t going in right now…it’s still too early (to be concerned about the power play). We were good on the entries, it’s going to happen – we just have to stick with it and not get frustrated.”
-Vinny Prospal is fitting in nicely on the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 line, and hasn’t disappointed in the goal-scoring department. He scored his second goal in three games tonight, making it nine total points (3-6-9) for the Blue Jackets top trio this season. This much is clear: no one celebrates goals better than Prospal.
-Grant Clitsome has displayed no hesitation in shooting the puck since he became an NHL regular last season. He logged 20:51 TOI in tonight’s game and was credited with four shots on goal, but it seems like every time he gets the puck at the point, he is directing it toward the cage. That’s a good sign for the Blue Jackets, who are working to create secondary scoring chances on both the power play and at even strength.
-Kris Russell may not have recorded a point, but he played perhaps his strongest game in recent memory. He blocked three shots, put one on the net, totaled 16:28 and put his tremendous wheels on display all night.
FROM THE AP...
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Already down a goal to the Blue Jackets in the third period, the Vancouver Canucks badly needed a stop on a penalty shot from goaltender Cory Schneider.
They got it - and the game-turning momentum.
Cody Hodgson tied the game just a minute later and Alexandre Burrows scored on a power play to turn a potential loss into a 3-2 victory on Monday night that gave Columbus its first 0-3 start to a season in franchise history.
"Schneids was good," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "He kept us in it. He made a big save on that penalty shot. It gave us a chance to come back and win the game."
The Blue Jackets were swarming the net when Vancouver defenseman Christopher Tanev fell on a puck loose in the crease and grabbed it with his right glove while knocking the goal cage off its moorings. A lengthy video review followed, which determined the puck had crossed the goal line. Eventually, Columbus was awarded the penalty shot because the referee had called the play dead while Tanev was covering the puck.
But Schneider got a piece of rookie Maksim Mayorov's attempt.
"I know he's a pretty skilled player," said Schneider, who had 23 saves. "I played against him in the American (Hockey) League. He's not your typical third-liner, so he has some skill. When he comes in that way, he looks low blocker. At the last second I saw him open up for high glove and fortunately I got a piece of it with my arm."
Moments later, it was tied when Hamhuis fired a pass from the left corner near the goal line that was redirected by Hodgson.
"Hammer made a great play coming down the wall and he threw it on the net," Hodgson said. "(Mikael) Samuelson pulled the guys high and I was just fortunate to get a stick on it."
Shortly after Columbus' Grant Clitsome went to the penalty box for a high stick, the Canucks picked up what became the winning goal.
Daniel Sedin tossed the puck from the right boards to Burrows at the net, and he made a quick turnaround while controlling the puck. Steve Mason, who had 22 saves, stopped the first shot but Burrows tapped in the rebound.
"I was just able to get my stick open and Danny made a good play," Burrows said. "I was trying to take it to the net for a scramble. I got the rebound and I was able to put it in."
Chris Higgins also scored for the Canucks.
The Blue Jackets were 0 for 5 on the power play and are now 0 for 16 with a man advantage on the season.
Second-year Columbus coach Scott Arniel said his team was tired.
"More than anything that was three games in four nights for us," he said of his team's failure to hold the lead in the third period. "We had nothing left in the tank in the third period. That team (Vancouver) had played one game and then flew in here on Saturday, kind of sitting waiting for us."
The Blue Jackets took a 2-1 lead late in the second period. After both teams had missed out on numerous scoring chances, the goal came on a relatively innocuous play. Rick Nash chased the puck into the corner, bracketed by defensemen Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa. But Nash flicked the puck along the end boards to Prospal, whose wraparound attempt somehow squirted between the goal post and left skate blade of Schneider.
Columbus had a chance to add to the lead early in the third.
Schneider made several big saves, stopping Jeff Carter early in the game and then blocking a shot by Nash, also in the first period, after he had muscled in on a rush.
The Blue Jackets dominated play in the first period, yet came out tied 1-1. They had 11 of the 13 shots.
Atkinson opened the scoring midway through the period, notching his first after some down-and-dirty work by Matt Calvert, who had a takeaway in the offensive zone. Derek Mackenzie came up with the puck and, from the right boards, flipped the puck blind to the slot where Atkinson converted.
Columbus had failed to find the net with 22 seconds of a two-man advantage earlier.
Notes: There were 13 advance scouts at the game. ... Atkinson was not on the Columbus bench for much of the second period but did return. ... Vancouver outshot the Blue Jackets 12-5 in the third period. ... Mayorov's penalty shot was the 24th in Blue Jackets history. Columbus has converted six.
Rusty Miller can be reached at http://twitter.com/rustymillerap