After sitting for the last three exhibition games, Nikita Nikitin made his return for the Blue Jackets in dramatic fashion. He was the player of the first period, notching a goal for the home team to put Columbus up 1-0. Nikitin rounded out the first 20 minutes of the game with 7:27 of ice time, three blocked shots and three shots on goal.
That momentum carried over into most of the second period until Nathan Gerbe capitalized on a turnover in the Blue Jackets' defensive zone to tie the game 1-1 with two minutes to play. The Blue Jackets stepped up their physical game early on, but the Hurricanes battled them every step of the way from then on out to keep the game tied.
The Blue Jackets then seemed to be on the dominant side of things for the entire third period--they had multiple power plays and tallied numerous shots on goal. When play slowed down for the final five minutes of the game, the Hurricanes took advantage of the lull. Off a Blue Jackets defensive-zone giveaway, Gerbe poked the puck into the back of the net with 37.7 seconds to play, sealing the win for Carolina.
With tonight's loss, the Blue Jackets rounded out the preseason with a 4-3-1 record. Opening night is right around the corner, but tonight proved that the Blue Jackets still have work to do and a roster to trim before they play Oct. 4 against the Calgary Flames.
There's no denying this one--Gerbe's two goals are what sealed the win for the Hurricanes. Gerbe finished up the night with four shots on goal and 18:05 of ice time.
2. Cam Ward (CAR)
Ward stopped every shot except one, a dirty goal by Nikitin. He made 25 saves and made all the right moves to keep the game close the entire night.
3. Brandon Dubinsky (CBJ)
Dubinsky played big minutes on all fronts--at even strength and for both sides of special teams. He was 67 percent in the face-off circle, a statistic that was key for the Blue Jackets to maintain puck possession for the majority of the game.