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Aftermath No. 14: Ottawa

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Hockey can sometimes be a game of bounces: good bounces, bad bounces, you name it...but as Brandon Dubinsky said after tonight's game, sometimes you have to make your own breaks.

The Blue Jackets are on the wrong end of those breaks right now and are struggling mightily to score goals. They scored just their third goal in three games tonight, a power play goal from RJ Umberger that brought Columbus within a goal early in the third period.

Did it feel like they had a comeback in them? Absolutely, and especially so given the number of chances they had generated in the first two periods.

But when the margin for error is small, it can often feel microscopic. 

Chris Neil, who hadn't been much of a factor in a game that had its share of snarl, delivered the crushing blow to the Jackets' comeback hopes with six minutes to play. Jason Spezza recognized the Blue Jackets were caught up ice and engineered what became a 3-on-2 rush when Neil joined the play late.

Spezza, as he so often does, laid a perfect pass into space and Neil walked into a wrister that McElhinney didn't appear to see.

That's all it took - one mistake. One breakdown. It's the line the Jackets are walking right now and it's the difference between getting back on track at home and losing for the fourth straight game. 

Here are some random thoughts, notes and observations...

- Ryan Johansen has really come on in the last couple of weeks, and he was the Jackets' best forward tonight. He played nearly 21 minutes (20:45), fired four shots on goal and was 58 percent (7-for-12) in the face-off circle. He anchored what was Columbus' best line in the middle of Umberger and Atkinson.

- Thought Ryan Murray was noticeable in a good way tonight and he continues to look poised and confident manning the Jackets' No. 1 power play unit. Murray played 20:38, also with four shots on goal, and saw a lot of ice against the Senators' scoring lines. 

- Curtis McElhinney bounced back from the two first-period goals (he had no chance on the MacArthur goal that made it a 2-0 game) and gave the Blue Jackets a chance to win this one. He ended the game with 20 saves and a handful were high-quality, but couldn't keep three big miscues out of the Columbus net. 

- Umberger's power play goal was a just reward for the man advantage unit; the Blue Jackets were buzzing all night long on the power play and finally cashed in early in the third period.

Dubinsky made a nice play to free up the puck, and Umberger rifled it through Lehner's pads while almost seated on the ice. He was rewarded for a really strong game with the two kids.

- In his 400th NHL game, Jared Boll celebrated as only he can with two fights: the first, a brief bout with Matt Kassian just 2:08 into the first period and the second a spirited scrap with Neil. 

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