With goals from Blake Comeau (first of the season) and Artem Anisimov (2-0-2 on the night), the Blue Jackets fell short to the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 in front of a sparse 10,542 fans.
Anaheim’s Corey Perry potted the eventual game-winner with 2:25 to go in regulation, showing patience in front of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky after the puck took a fortuitous bounce off the boards.
What the game will be remembered for is an open-ice hit that Brandon Dubinsky laid on the Ducks Saku Koivu at 19:25 of the second period. Dubinsky was given a five minute major (Interference) and a game misconduct after Koivu was left slightly dazed on the ice and left the game, not to return.
Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau after the game said of Koivu, “He looked like he was okay. I don’t know if they (the trainers) have completed any of them (concussion tests) yet.”
With the NHL becoming a faster, stronger and harder-hitting game, this hit will most assuredly be reviewed by Brendon Shanahan and the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
“It’s kind of sad,” said Columbus’ Nick Foligno, “because open-ice hits seem to be getting fewer and far between. It’s part of the game and I don’t think that Dubi (Brandon Dubinsky) is headhunting there at all.
“Sometimes a guy puts himself in that situation, not to say that you ever want to see anyone get hurt, we felt like it was just one of those plays where a guy (Dubinsky) was in a bad situation and he still tried to do everything he could to not hit him in a bad spot. You’ve got to play the game physical, and Dubi is a physical player.”
Just after Koivu had passed the puck, Dubinsky made contact with him. Dubinsky did not appear to target the head and didn’t leave the ice. Koivu ended up spinning around before landing on the ice.
While the speed of the game forces the refs to make a split-second decision, the game misconduct was assessed after the refs had conferred at center ice. This would seem to indicate that the penalty was a result of the aftermath of the hit and not of the hit itself.
“I don’t agree with the call,” Dubinsky said after the game. “I don’t think I am a dirty player and I don’t think I was trying to target his head. I understand that the league is trying to crack down on hits to the head, and I don’t think it was one.
“It’s a game and we’re all competitive. We want to make sure that everyone is safe and plays hard. Like I said, I didn’t target the head and I feel bad that Koivu didn’t return to the game.”
Earlier in the game, Anisimov was the recipient of an open-ice hit delivered by Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin at 14:33 of the first period. Beauchemin made contact with Anisimov’s head, but Anisimov was not left dazed on the ice.
Foligno jumped in on Beauchemin and was given a minor penalty for roughing.
“They made a quick play,” said Dubinsky. “He (Koivu) had the puck in the middle and I was just going to finish my check. It was less than a second from him moving the puck and when the hit actually happened. By definition, I don’t think that’s an interference call.
“I think that my shoulder and elbow were tucked. Again, it’s a fast game. I don’t think I’m a dirty player. I play the game honest. I went out there to try and make a body check, not injure Koivu or make a dirty hit.”
The loss of Dubinsky for the entire third period had immediate effects.
“Probably the biggest thing about the call wasn’t the five minutes (penalty kill),” said Columbus head coach Todd Richards. “It was that we lost Dubi for the game. You look at the guys out of our lineup, like (Derek) MacKenzie and Boone Jenner. And then you lose Dubi for the third period and those are guys that provide a lot of speed and energy for us.
“Then you’ve got a five minute penalty kill and you’re losing a guy who logs a lot of ice-time, especially on the penalty kill. So, it was a big hole.”
• This was the second game in a row that Columbus has scored a short-handed goal. After Anaheim turned the puck over in the Columbus zone, Dubinsky gathered it and went down the side before making a beautiful cross-ice pass to Anisimov, who went from backhand to forehand and getting it past goalie Frederik Andersen.
• Anisimov, after a somewhat slow start to the season, has 3-3-6 in his last six games. He was 2-0-2, +2 on the night versus the Ducks.
• Michael Chaput, recalled from Columbus’ AHL affiliate (Springfield Falcons), made his NHL debut against Anaheim. He logged 7:48 of ice-time, while being credited with one shot on goal, one hit and one blocked shot.
• James Wisniewski, after his assist on Anisimov’s second goal of the game, now leads the Blue Jackets with eight assists on the young season. He has registered at least a point in all six home games this season, going 1-7-8 at Nationwide Arena.