On Monday night, the Carolina Hurricanes (7-2-0, 14 pts) and Columbus Blue Jackets (5-5-3, 13 pts) will play the second game of their back-to-back series.
The Canes won yesterday's matchup 6-5, albeit with a healthy dose of controversy.
Late in the second period, the Canes scored a goal to take a 4-3 lead.
Columbus challenged the play, claiming that Vincent Trocheck was off-side in the lead-up to the goal.
The officiating crew reviewed the play and determined that there was no conclusive proof that Trocheck was off-side.
Therefore, the goal would stand, and Columbus was charged with a two-minute delay of game penalty.
The teams played the remaining 1:15 of the second period with Carolina on the powerplay.
Yet, between periods, something changed.
Apparently, additional camera angles (which showed that Trocheck was indeed off-side) were not examined during the initial review.
The NHL released a statement in an attempt to clean up the spill on aisle 4:
"Columbus requested a coach's challenge for off-side prior to a goal at 18:45 of the second period. During the review, a miscommunication occurred between the Video Replay Booth in Columbus, the Linesmen and the Situation Room and play resumed before all replays could be reviewed to confirm the off-side. The challenge by Columbus should have resulted in the Carolina goal being disallowed. Subsequently, Columbus was assessed a delay of game penalty. After confirmation in the intermission that the play was off-side, the remaining 0:45 of the delay of game penalty issued was rescinded to begin the third period."
In other words: someone screwed up.
In the end, it cost Columbus a goal plus over a minute on the penalty kill.
Asked about the bizarre ruling which let the goal stand, Columbus coach John Tortorella took the high road in his post-game press conference.
"You know what? I'm going to let the league explain it...I'm out."
Blue Jacket's defenseman Seth Jones added, "[the controversial goal] was the least of our worries. We didn't play well enough to win the game."
Even though they got the win, the Canes seemed well aware they got away from their game by getting into a high-scoring affair.
"It was one of those weird ones that turned out [high-scoring], but I don't think [the coaching staff] wants us to open it up as much as it was," said Ryan Dzingel.
The Ohio State grad noted that the combined 11 goals surprised him, "Coming in, if you put your money on it, you would say it would be a one-goal game, [and probably] low-scoring."
Looking ahead to Monday night's game, the Canes will undoubtedly attempt to tighten up the defense after giving up 5 goals on only 22 shots Sunday.
However, Canes' head coach Rod Brind'Amour, sought to keep things in perspective, "We'll keep trying to limit the chances and working at that, but at the end of the day, it's about winning the game...We're [not disapointed] about scoring six goals."
In net, 25-year-old Ohio native Alex Nedeljkovic will get his first start this year, as Petr Mrazek continues to recover from surgery on his injured thumb. James Reimer gets a rest after playing in five straight games.
The Canes will also be without Martin Necas, who continues to recover from an injury suffered on Thursday.
Even without Necas, scoring has not been a problem so far for the Canes. Andrei Svechnikov already has 10 points (6g, 4a) through 9 games, while Sebastian Aho (2g, 7a), Jordan Staal (2g, 7a), and Vincent Trocheck (6g, 3a) each have 9 points so far this season.
The Canes' expected lines:
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Brock McGinn
Nino Niederreiter - Vincent Trocheck - Teuvo Teravainen
Ryan Dzingel - Jordan Staal - Warren Foegele
Jordan Martinook - Morgan Geekie - Jesper Fast
Jaccob Slavin - Brett Pesce
Brady Skjei - Dougie Hamilton
Jake Gardiner - Haydn Fleury
Injuries and Scratches: Max McCormick (IR upper body), Petr Mrazek (hand surgery), Martin Necas (upper body)
Turning to Columbus, it's fair to say that the Patrik Laine trade is already paying dividends.
Laine potted twice on Sunday and had a chance to tie the game late; however, his one-time blast was blocked by Carolina's Jaccob Slavin--preserving the Canes' one-goal victory.
Asked about Laine's shot, Oliver Bjorkstrand summed it up, "It was awesome to see. [Laine] obviously has an incredible shot. I've seen it a lot playing against him. Now, having him score those goals for us, it's great to see."
As good as Laine is, it's clear why Columbus traded for him. Sunday's game aside, Columbus has struggled to score.
Expect the Canes to make adjustments on the penalty kill to take away Laine and his one-timer--forcing other Blue Jackets to do the scoring.
But lack of scoring isn't the only problem for Columbus. As Seth Jones said on Monday afternoon, "We have to find ways to be better defensively. We can't give up six goals and expect to win a game. We have to do a better job on our breakouts, our neutral zone, etc."
Jones is speaking from experience. He enters Monday night's game with a team-worst plus/minus rating of -9.
But Jones is not the only Blue Jacket struggling at 5-on-5.
Cam Atkinson is -6. So is Boone Jenner.
If Columbus wants to avoid a 2-game sweep by their former Metro division rivals, they'll need to improve their even-strength play.
In terms of personnel, Columbus head coach John Tortorella will send out mostly the same unit to face the Canes.
Kevin Stenlund and Mikhail Grigorenko draw into the lineup and will skate on the fourth line.
In net, Joonas Korpisalo (3-3-2, .899 SV%, 3.29 GAA) will get his second start in as many games.
The Blue Jackets' expected lines:
Patrik Laine - Jack Roslovic - Cam Atkinson
Max Domi - Alexandre Texier - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Nick Foligno - Riley Nash - Eric Robinson
Boone Jenner - Kevin Stenlund - Mikhail Grigorenko
Dean Kukan - Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov - David Savard
Scott Harrington - Michael Del Zotto
Injuries and Scratches: Gustav Nyquist (IR shoulder), Zach Werenski (IR lower body), Elvis Merzlikins (IR upper body)