The Blue Jackets will watch the tape of tonight's game and kick themselves over the number of missed opportunities, many of them handed to them by the Chicago Blackhawks.
On the second night of back-to-backs, the visitors didn't lack energy and got a gallant effort from goaltender Steve Mason, who made 26 saves including two breakaway dandies on Marian Hossa. But despite the power play chances and quality looks in the third period, the Blue Jackets could not get one past Corey Crawford, who was making his first start in six games.
Columbus played an uptempo, physical game tonight and did well to slow down the Blackhawks' top guns, many of whom had been rolling along at quite impressive paces. The same could be said for the entire Chicago club, which extended its NHL-record unbeaten (in regulation) streak to open the season, with their record now sitting at 15-0-3.
One note before we break the game down: Ryan Johansen, recalled this morning from Springfield, played nearly 16 minutes and centered Matt Calvertand Nick Foligno, a line that was very good in Detroit before and after Artem Anisimov's scary injury. Johansen also had four shots on goal in the game, and got a couple of quick shots at Crawford in the third period.
Alright, let's bring it with tonight's analysis:
1. KILLIN' TIME: The shorthanded side of the special teams has been very strong for Todd Richards this season, and the penalty kill has done well to neutralize some explosive power plays. An example would be the Blackhawks, who have the 13th-best power play unit and a ton of weapons, and they had a tough time getting anything going on the man advantage tonight. Mason made some big stops, but the most impressive aspect was the active sticks and quick "closings," negating easy entries for Chicago and making them retrieve pucks.
2. NET GAINS: "Results" has been a buzzword for the Blue Jackets this season, in that they've brought the effort on a nightly basis but haven't always been rewarded for how they play. One thing is clear for the time being: when they start putting pucks in the back of the net, results could come pretty quickly. Their two goaltenders are playing very well right now, and as a tandem, they've allowed four goals in the last three games but overall, it's a 1-2-0 record for the club. Bobrovsky was excellent in Detroit and St. Louis, and Mason stepped up and delivered tonight in Chicago.
3. HOME COOKING: Tonight's game wrapped up a season-long six-game road trip for the Blue Jackets, and beginning with Tuesday's game against Dallas at Nationwide Arena, they'll play the bulk of the next month on home ice. They play nine of 10 at Nationwide from Mar. 3 to Mar. 22, and have four home games in a span of eight days mixed in there, as well. The table is set for them: if they want to claw their way back into the race, they'll have home ice advantage along the way.