About Last Night: Columbus’ rebuild further along than Montreal’s

University of Michigan alumni Kent Johnson and Nick Blankenburg made their NHL debuts for Columbus in the 5-1 win.

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On a night where two University of Michigan alumni made their debuts for the Columbus Blue Jackets, it was former Ohio State Buckeye Jack Roslovic who led the way with two goals in a 5-1 route over the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday at Nationwide Arena.

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Fresh from their appearances in the NCAA Frozen Four national championship, Wolverines Kent Johnson and Nick Blankenburg played their first pro games last night, with Blankenburg collecting an assist. After downing the Habs in the final moments of their last contest, Patrik Laine continued to bulldoze Montreal with three points.

Josh Anderson and David Savard spent most of their careers with the Blue Jackets organization, and like the rest of the Habs probably wished things had gone a little differently in their returns to Columbus: Savard was -3 and Anderson fumbled a few scoring chances.

As is the custom, the Blue Jackets paid tribute to their former players.

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The Blue Jackets have struggled defensively this season, but can dazzle on offense. Roslovic opened scoring in the first after a nice passing display from his teammates. Roslovic fired from a sharp angle, with the puck bouncing over Samuel Montembeault and past the goal line to make it 1-0. And no, that wasn’t a power play, even though it looked like it.

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Montembeault didn’t shine on Wednesday the same way he did on Monday, but early in the second he did make a sparkling glove save on Zach Werenski. Even the defenseman gave the goalie a stick tap out of respect.

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In the closing five minutes of the second period, the Jackets began to pull away. On a slow-building three-on-two, Laine sent a pass across that bounced off Roslovic’s leg and in for the second goal of the night.

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Less than two minutes later on the power play, Laine scored on a sharp angle along the goal line by banking the puck off Montembeault and in to give his team a 3-0 advantage.

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Before the announcer could even provide details of the previous goal, the Habs got a power play of their own and scored nine seconds into the man-advantage. Nick Suzuki’s point shot was deflected in front by Ryan Poehling to put Montreal on the board. The Blue Jackets were up 3-1 after 40 minutes.

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Cole Sillinger put the game out of reach at 6:24 of the third period off a deflection that caught Montembeault going the wrong way.

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Emil Bemstrom then made it a 5-1 blowout with a top corner snipe on Montembeault.

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After some competitive years under coach John Tortorella, the Columbus Blue Jackets opted for a fresh start last offseason, dealing star defenseman Seth Jones for Adam Boqvist and three picks, including a first rounder. Although they didn’t have much of a chance in the competitive Metropolitan Division this year, things are looking up. If the mercurial Laine sticks around, they have an elite goal scorer to go along with recent picks Johnson and Sillinger, who they drafted at 5 and 12 in 2021. The Canadiens have two first-round picks in the upcoming draft, and fans would probably be extremely pleased if they could walk away with two young players of that caliber.

Credit to the Liveblog commenters for remaining passionate during a lousy game with little on the line but pride. They’re still watching this team like hawks, and even found something to appreciate on the night: Poehling’s performance.

3. “Poehling actually played well tonight. The kids were fine. Our vets were awful. Hoff, Gally, yikes…. Great outcome. 8 more just like that please.” -Arthur Chilli

2. “I think the HONEYMOON is over for St.Louis. Habs have gone back to the same type of game play they played most of the year. Give away after give away, poor passing, no shots and mediocre effort by 80% of the team. 75% of this roster has to go. Goalies keep them in the game. If I was Price why would I want to come back and play with this team? Hats off to Suzuki, Cauldfield, Anderson, the goalies, but a few others. Depressing at best.” -Dennis Graf

1. “Comments by others about a lot of roster turnover after the trade deadline were fair, but man, oh man. Talk about puck mismanagement the whole game. It’s created the bizarre situation where I am glad for losses to improve the lottery pick chances.” -Lari Mitchell

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