This was the ninth NHL game this season for the 26-year-old goalkeeper. From the very beginning of the fight, Merzļikins and the protection of the “Blue Jackets” showed a very convincing performance, fully controlling the situation in front of the goalkeeper guarded by the Latvian and passing the only numerical minority in the first period. Neither Merzlikkin nor the Blue Jackets defenders allowed Nashville’s team to retake.
17 seconds to the end of the first third in a somewhat curious 1: 0 favor of Columbus was achieved by Chem Atkinson, whose puck in the ricochet from the “Predators” guard jumped over the goalkeeper Yem Saros, reaching the goal. Atkinson excelled in the fifth game in a row.
The Blue Jackets were able to overcome the crisis of the second period this season, continuing to show a good performance in the second third and increasing their lead when Max Domi made a strong and effective shot from the right flank of the attacking area in the 25th minute without stopping the puck: 0. For the rest of the time, the initiative was taken over by the “Predators”, with the guests making nine shows more than their opponents in the final period. However, with several convincingly repulsed shots, Merzlikkin helped Columbus maintain a two-goal lead until the last minutes of the fight, when Erik Robinson put the puck in the empty goal – 3: 0.
Elvis Merzlikins, who was recognized as the first star of the match, admitted in a post-match interview that he did not feel very confident before the game. Latvia’s leading hockey goalkeeper revealed that he maintains a very critical view of his performance this season and is aware that he must especially work on better control of repelled puck. It should be noted that this was the sixth for Merzlikkin dry match in his NHL career.
The Blue Jackets won after a two-match break, retaining fifth place in the Central Division with 20 points in 18 games. “Predators” with 12 points in 16 matches in this division is seventh. Columbus has three more games in a row in the near future, the next of which on the night of February 21, the unit will once again host “Predators”.