The Columbus Blue Jackets were looking to win back-to-back games for the first time in 2017 on Saturday night but weren’t able to seal the deal as they lost to the Florida Panthers by a score of 4-3.
The Blue Jackets were able to overcome a sloppy first period on Friday night to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. The first order of business for Saturday night’s game was to get off to a better start against the Florida Panthers.
The first period got off to a competitive start. The Panthers, however, were the first to get on the board. David Savard’s clearing attempt around the boards was picked off by defenseman Aaron Ekblad who found Shawn Thornton all alone just to Joonas Korpisalo’s right. Thornton knocked in his first goal of the season to give the home team a 1-0 lead at the 8:22 mark.
Just over two minutes later, the CBJ were able to capitalize on their first power-play opportunity of the evening. Scott Hartnell deflected a Ryan Murry shot past goaltender James Reimer to tie the game at one. With under two minutes remaining in the first period, Cam Atkinson stole an errant clearing attempt in the offensive zone and beat Reimer to give the Jackets a 2-1 lead heading into the second period.
It was “deuces wild” for the Panthers in the second period. Beginning at 8:46 of the second, the Panthers scored two goals in 2:22 to regain the lead. The first goal was scored by Vincent Trocheck off shot from a terrible angle that somehow found it’s way between Korpisalo’s shoulder and the goal post. The other was by Jonathan Marchessault off a Markus Nutivaara turnover in the CBJ defensive zone. Boone Jenner described what ultimately was the turning point in the game:
We just lost ourselves. I think we got nervous and sat back after they scored that first one. That’s not like us and that’s not the game we play so, you know, obviously it cost us tonight.
John Tortorella put it simpler: “It’s a bad goal then we gift wrapped one.”
Going into the third period with the score at 3-2, the next goal was critical. Unfortunately for the Jackets, it came just 97 seconds into the period by Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr. Trocheck entered the zone and got a shot off on Korpisalo. The puck went high into the air in front of the young goaltender. Jagr was able to bat it down and get it in the net to give the Panthers a 4-2 lead. It was the 44-year-old’s eighth goal of the year.
Boone Jenner scored his second in as many nights at the 6:17 mark of the third period to bring the CBJ to within one. Down by one goal, the Jackets had a few good chances in the closing minutes of the game, but were unable to get the equalizing goal. Tortorella described his frustration, saying his team was:
Way too fine, and quite honestly I thought [Reimer] was struggling, and just to put the puck on the goal I think we have an opportunity to score goals. Way too fine, especially the last five minutes of that game with some of the looks we had.
The Jackets dropped two of three games on their brief road trip. Seth Jones, who picked up two assists on Saturday night, put a positive spin on the CBJ loss:
This is good for us to go through this I think, you know everything’s been all great and everything, you know for us to deal with some adversity right now this season and get over that hump it’s gonna be big the second half.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are now 29-9-4 and will continue their second half on Tuesday night in Columbus against the Carolina Hurricanes.