From the drop of the puck, this game had a weird feel to it.
It was almost as if momentum was hanging somewhere above the ice surface at STAPLES Center, waiting for either the Blue Jackets or Kings to step up and grab it. Instead, both teams played ping-pong with it and sent it back each other's way throughout the game, creating spurts of energy from both sides but overall it was a physical game that lacked consistency.
The Blue Jackets had a solid road period in the first 20 minutes but couldn't get many shots at Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier, and the Kings had the better of the play in the second period and got a late-stages goal from Kyle Clifford to make it 1-0. Columbus had only eight shots on goal through two periods and not many quality looks at Bernier, making it difficult for them to claw back into the hockey game.
Columbus got into some penalty trouble, too, and at an inopportune time. Jared Boll got a roughing penalty at the buzzer in the second period, and 48 seconds later, Fedor Tyutin held up one of the Kings to set up a lengthy 5-on-3. Mike Richards capitalized, sending a centering pass of Nikita Nikitin's boot and behind Sergei Bobrovsky for a 2-0 lead early in the third period.
With a game in Phoenix less than 20 hours away, it's time for the Blue Jackets to take the lessons from this game and get ready for their next test.
Let's break down tonight's game and call it a night:
1. One mistake too many: The Blue Jackets struggled mightily to sustain any offense tonight, and it started back in their own end. They didn't win many of the puck battles that enabled them to quickly transition the puck in previous games against Edmonton and San Jose, and as a result, they were the team doing most of the chasing tonight. Los Angeles' goals came on a defensive breakdown and a 5-on-3, so it's pretty clear that neither club was on top of its game. But Columbus made some mistakes that ended up in its net and they were the difference in the hockey game.
2. No help for Bob: Bobrovsky, much like Jonathan Bernier at the other end of the ice, didn't get much help from his teammates. Though the Blue Jackets made it interesting late in the third period thanks to Nick Foligno's goal and a wild scramble in the closing seconds, Bobrovsky basically had to be perfect in the first 58 minutes and the only goals to beat him weren't of his doing. He's been solid in net during his last two appearances but hasn't been able to pick up a victory. The Blue Jackets have scored two total goals in his last two starts.
3. Late flurry not enough: Foligno's goal made the final two-plus minutes drama-filled, but the Blue Jackets needed more of that in the first 58 minutes. Can they use that as momentum to carry over to tomorrow's game in Phoenix? It's definitely possible, mainly because they saw what happens when they win those "first battles" on the puck -- especially inside the offensive end.