We did a pretty good job tonight, they just…scored more goals.
That’s what Ryan Murray, who scored the final goal (which incidentally was his first of the season) of the game with 2:51 remaining, had to say about the Columbus Blue Jackets after a 4-3 loss to the Nashville Predators.
The CBJ looked to be on the brink of tying the game 4-4 when the clock (to the relief of the home team) struck zero.
However, Columbus struck first 9:25 into the first period on a wrist shot by Brandon Saad. Saad hadn’t scored a goal in his seven previous appearances coming into the night.
The second period was what doomed the Jackets in the end.
It was a Matt Calvert tripping penalty that set the stage the Predators to strike first on the power play. Colin Wilson made a spot-on backhanded pass to Calle Jarnkrok, who shot the puck in the top-right corner of the net 5:41 into the period.
Brad Shaw was the head coach for Columbus tonight, not John Tortorella (who was home for a family emergency).
Shaw believed Nashville’s first goal shouldn’t have counted because “It was an offside”.
It was the fourth line who got in on the action at the 9:01 mark of the second period for the Preds. Harry Zolnierczyk got the puck just outside the blue paint and backhanded it home to put Nashville up 2-1. The goal was Zolnierczyk’s first the season.
Zach Werenski shared his thoughts on why the team’s struggled in second periods lately:
I don’t know why. I think our first periods have been pretty good and our seconds’ (referring to second periods of course) have just been awful.
Seth Jones had an elaborate answer about the second-period struggles:
When you see it start to go south on us we need to keep it a little more simple and, and not try to force things. You know we’re all trying to do the right thing you know, we’re all working. It’s not a matter of effort I don’t think, but, try to keep it simple and, and kind of get through that period where thy have their push. And that’s what we were good at the first half and during that streak…we have to get back to that.
Jones referred to the second period from the angle of it being a “mental” obstacle for Columbus as well:
Second period is kinda that lull time…That second period’s that time that we need to, to find that energy.
The Blue Jackets trailed by scores of 3-1 and 4-2 in the third period due to two goals scored by Craig Smith. The first was via a wraparound attempt and the second was during a quick transition into the offensive zone when he beat Sergei Bobrovsky nearside.
Columbus cut the deficit to one twice in the third period. First on a well-placed wrist shot by Zack Werenski at the 9:12 mark and the second time was due to the aforementioned goal scored by Ryan Murray.
Seth Jones described the last few minutes of the game saying:
We got that third one and, you know for sure we thought we were, were gonna get that last one there with the extra attacker but, pshh, didn’t happen.
A recurring theme in the postgame interviews for the Blue Jackets was “60 minutes”.
Werenski mentioned it after talking about the forecheck:
I thought our forecheck was good when we were working. We have to be better for a full 60 minutes.
Jones mentioned the theme after talking about the effort of the club that fell short in the end:
We played hard tonight. We fought back in the third…we gave it all we got out there…We gotta find a way to maintain 60-minute hockey.
Why the “60 minutes” theme? These comments from Brad Shaw should help explain why:
We’ve sorta let the other team have their way where 15, 20 games ago we absorbed that and we just kept on playing.
- Pekka Rinne was solid between the pipes for the first two periods, but was probably the most-relieved player in the building when the game ended (allowed two of three goals on the evening in the final 20 minutes). The CBJ seemed to be finding their offensive mojo in the ladder portion of the third period.
- Seth Jones had a memorable performance against his former squad. He recorded two assists and a rating of plus- 1 along with 26:30 of ice time.
- Ryan Johansen didn’t get on the scoring sheet and had a rating of minus- 2 in his 19:13 of action.
- Nashville was credited with 23 hits compared to only 13 for Columbus. The Predators also won 42 of the 71 faceoffs in the game.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will return to the rink next Tuesday. Stay tuned this weekend as Drew and I will each select (and describe in detail) our three most-important games (on Saturday) for the CBJ after the all-star break. Then we’ll prognosticate where the Blue Jackets will end up in the standings, who they’ll face in the playoffs (if we predict they’ll make it) and how many points they’ll have at the end of the season (on Sunday).