The Blue Jackets spent a significant amount of practice time working on the power play and penalty kill, and those units put in a lot of work tonight. Both teams were off to a slow start in the first period, but, after going 0-for-2 on the first two power plays without any shots, James Wisniewski converted the Blue Jackets' first power play shot for a goal off a Marian Gaborik pass.
Despite the shot clock proving otherwise through the first two periods, with the shots totaling 20-10 in favor of the Wild, the Blue Jackets maintained possession of the puck for the majority of the first 40 minutes.
The Blue Jackets also had the advantage on the physical side of the game through the first 40 minutes. Matt Calvert and Boone Jenner were phyiscal presences on both ends of the ice, totaling a combined 13 hits, leading the Blue Jackets to a 35-21 advantage in the hits department by the end of the game.
However, the Blue Jackets' control and momentum was short-lived as Keith Ballard tied the game with just about nine minutes to play, which eventually forced the game into overtime. Despite starting the extra time on the man-advantage, the Wild were unable to convert and both teams were evenly matched through the additional five minutes.
Then came one of the most high-pressure situations in the game: the shootout (sure, even if it's preseason!) After Anisimov failed to convert on his attempt, Jason Zucker snuck the puck just through the pads of Bobrovsky, which ended up sealing the win for the Wild as Blue Jackets forwards Cam Atkinson and Matt Calvert failed to score on Harding.
1. SERGEI BOBROVSKY (CBJ)
After stopping 26 of 27 shots in regulation and coming up big when it counted in the first 60 minutes for the Blue Jackets, Jason Zucker snuck a puck in past Bobrovsky in the shootout to give the Wild the win. Despite being on the losing side of the scoresheet, Bobrovsky looked to be close to regular-season form than he has in his past exhibition game play and finished the night with a 0.963 save percentage.
2. JOSH HARDING (MIN)
Harding finished the night with a 0.952 save percentage and stopped shots by Anisimov, Atkinson and Calvert in the shootout. His big saves late in the game and during the shootout are what sealed the win for his team, even though he did not have to work too much until the back half of the game.
3. BOONE JENNER (CBJ)
Once again, Jenner made his presence felt at of the ice as he tallied nearly 16 minutes of ice time, and recorded four shots and four hits on the night. As one of the guys fighting for one of the two remaining forward spots for the Blue Jackets' opening night roster, Jenner once again made his case for a position through his play tonight.