The Jackets and Sharks met on Friday night in Columbus in front of a near-sellout crowd at Nationwide Arena. Coming into the game, there was an apparent mismatch on special teams, which has been a strength for San Jose and weakness for the CBJ all season.
It didn’t take long for special teams to make an impact on this game.
Just over four minutes in, Matt Calvert went to the penalty box for tripping. A little over a minute later, Logan Couture sent a shot in from the blue line that appeared to get deflected a couple times before finding the back of the net. The power play-goal put the Sharks up 1-0, a score that stood through the remainder of the first period.
At the 4:30 mark of the second period, the Blue Jackets got on the board. Boone Jenner took a pass from Cam Atkinson as the CBJ entered the offensive zone. Jenner got a slap shot off from just outside the faceoff circle that beat Sharks goaltender Martin Jones high-near side to tie the game up at one.
Shortly after the 10:00 mark of the second period, with Seth Jones already in the box, Nick Foligno took a hooking penalty in what ended up being the turning point of the contest. Foligno had this to say after the game:
That’s on me. It’s no one else’s fault.
Seven seconds after going on the two-man advantage, Kevin Lebanc lit the lamp to put the Sharks back on top.
Once Foligno emerged from the penalty box, John Tortorella didn’t call his number for the rest of the period. On being benched, Foligno commented:
It sucks. It’s the worst feeling in the world. You just want to be out there helping your teammates, especially after a mistake, so that’s a really hard one to sit there and watch but that’s the standard that [Tortorella] has and I’ve got to make sure I’m ready to go tomorrow.
The 2-1 San Jose lead would hold through the rest of the second period and into the third, until Marc-Edouard Vlasic gathered a bouncing puck and got a backhander past Sergei Bobrovsky to make it 3-1.
The CBJ couldn’t convert on their first and only power play of the night with 5:25 remaining in the game, nor could they score with an empty net and extra attacker. After 60 minutes, the scoreboard read San Jose 3, Columbus 1.
Although the Jackets’ special teams struggles continued, Tortorella seemed to have a positive outlook for his team and their one glaring weakness, saying:
I don’t think we’re that bad. We had two power play goals scored against us. We have some opportunities, we don’t score. Third period, I think we had 12 or 13 chances, can’t score.
It’ll come. We just have to stay within ourselves.
With the loss on Friday, the Blue Jackets fell to 27-20-4. With a stretch of five straight Metropolitan Division games around the corner, the Jackets won’t have much time to dwell on this one as they’ll head to New York to take on the Islanders on Saturday night.