The Columbus Blue Jackets have something with their rookie goaltender Elvis Merzlikins of Riga, Latvia. What he has been able to do over the last month is simply special indeed.
On Tuesday, Merzlikins recorded his fourth shutout of the season (of which all four have come in the last month since January 11) as the Blue Jackets defeated the Florida Panthers 1-0 in overtime. In the process, Merzlikins made 32 saves. He had 15 saves in the first period, eight saves each in the second and third periods and then one save in the overtime session.
Frank Vatrano of East Longmeadow, NJ and Riley Stillman each had four assists to lead Florida. Riley Stillman is the son of Cory Stillman, who played 16 seasons in the National Hockey League from 1994 to 2011 with the Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators and Panthers. Cory Stillman won two Stanley Cups. The first with the Lightning in 2004 and the second with the Hurricanes in 2006. On both occasions, Stillman beat Alberta-based teams in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final. In 2004, the Lightning beat the Calgary Flames and in 2006, the Hurricanes beat the Edmonton Oilers.
In the Blue Jackets win over the Panthers on Tuesday, Zach Werenski of Grosse Pointe, MI scored the only goal at 1:54 of the overtime period. Werenski’s goal, his 16th of the season, and third game winning goal of the year, was unassisted.
In 2019-20, Merzlikins has a record of 11 wins, six regulation losses, and four losses in the extra period. He has four shutouts, a goals against average of 2.30 and a save percentage of .929.
Merzlikins is tied for the NHL lead in shutouts with four with Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck of Commerce, MI. Merzlikins’ other three shutouts this season came on January 11 in a 3-0 Blue Jackets win over the Vegas Golden Knights, on January 14 in a 3-0 Blue Jackets win over the Boston Bruins and on January 18 in a 5-0 Blue Jackets win over the New Jersey Devils.
The Blue Jackets are currently in third place in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 29 wins, 16 regulation losses and nine losses in extra time for 67 points. They lead the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes by four points for a playoff spot.