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FINAL: Coyotes 4, Blue Jackets 2

Kukan scores first NHL regular-season goal, Texier also tallies for CBJ

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

The Blue Jackets suffered a 4-2 loss to Arizona in Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night.  

Game in a Paragraph 

It was another game where the Blue Jackets had their chances and just didn't get enough on the scoresheet. Arizona led 1-0 after a period and 3-1 after two, then the NHL's second-best scoring defense was able to finish off the win with the help of a late empty-net goal. 

Video: CBJ Recap: Kukan, Texier score in 4-2 loss at home

Quote of the Game

Alexandre Texier: "I think we played a good game, but it's not enough. We have to find a way to win hockey games. I think we didn't tonight."

CBJ Notables 

  • Dean Kukan scored his first NHL regular-season goal while playing on the top defensive pair with Seth Jones. 
  • Texier scored the fourth goal of his rookie season while moving to center for the game.  
  • Nick Foligno had an assist to give him a 3-1-4 line in his last three home games.  

Quick Recap 

Scoring chances were few and far between early -- Christian Fischer hit the post for Arizona and Sonny Milano was denied on the door step for each team's best early chance -- before the Coyotes took the lead on the power play with 48.8 seconds left in the first. Christian Dvorak's pass from dot to dot found Clayton Keller for a one-timer deflected off David Savard and got by Joonas Korpisalo. 

Columbus nearly tied it in the final seconds of the first, but a shot from Dean Kukan from the center point through a screen got past Darcy Kuemper but hit the right post and careened into the boards from there.  

The Blue Jackets did tie the score at 1 just 2:24 into the second period on the power play after Jakob Chychrun took a double minor for high-sticking. Sonny Milano passed the puck across the slot to Kukan, who sniped a shot short-side over the glove of Kuemper from the dot to tie things up. 

But Arizona responded with two goals of its own before the end of the period. The Coyotes made it 2-1 on the rush at 9:38 of the period, as a CBJ turnover at its own blue line ended up going the other way with Fischer roofing a shot over Korpisalo's blocker and off the far post and in from the top of the right circle. 

"Honestly, I think it's just understanding sometimes who you are playing and the scenarios and situations in games," Foligno said. "That's a team that thrives on the rush. We talked about it before the game. … We didn't get pucks deep in certain aspects, and that's what costs you against a team like that."

Moments after Kuemper denied Pierre-Luc Dubois' wraparound chance, the Coyotes made it 3-1 with 3:21 left in the second on a fluky goal. Carl Soderberg's shot from the top of the zone hit the back end of Lawson Crouse in front and banked into the net past Korpisalo.  

Just like late in the first, Columbus also hit the post in the final minute of the second. With the team holding a 6-on-5 advantage because of a delayed penalty, Savard was set up by Dubois with a cross-crease feed but hit the post behind Kuemper with the goalie down and out.  

It didn't take Columbus long, though, to draw one back early in the third period. Just 2:13 in, Cam Atkinson set up shop behind the net and found Texier at the left post, and his bang-bang shot got by Kuemper to cut Arizona's lead to 3-2.  

Moments after a Korpisalo save on Chychrun, the Jackets went the other way and Texier teed up Atkinson, but Kuemper snagged his shot with the glove with 5:35 to go. 

Arizona played staunch defense from there and Soderberg intercepted a pass before scoring an easy empty-netter with 34.5 seconds to go to set the final score. 

Video: Torts on the defensemen and Texier.

3 Takeaways

1. The reality is the margin between winning and losing hockey games in the NHL is razor thin, and this was another of those nights where the Blue Jackets found that out the hard way. Two Arizona goals deflected in front of Korpisalo, leaving the goaltender with little chance. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets hit two posts and were left again ruing the scoring chances that didn't go in. If it is starting to sound a bit like Groundhog Day, well, it is. "When you don't score goals, it's an awful thin margin," head coach John Tortorella said. 

2. I know the debate between advanced stats and traditional stats will always rage on, but in this case, it seems like both are saying the same thing -- the Blue Jackets are playing well and creating chances, just not scoring goals. On this night, the Blue Jackets had 57.4 percent of the shot attempts at 5-on-5, 52.3 percent of the scoring chances and 57.0 percent of the expected goals. It's a formula that at the end of the day should win games more often than not. Right now, it's not. "We have to find ways to put those (chances) in," Foligno said. 

3. If there was a positive, it had to be the play of Kukan, who stepped right into the top defensive pair and the No. 2 power play and didn't miss a beat. He played 22:54, had the goal and was on the ice for 15 CBJ scoring chances to just eight for Arizona, per Natural Stat Trick. With Zach Werenski out, the Blue Jackets needed someone to pair with Jones, and Kukan's playmaking skills fit right in. "I think I had a good game," he said. "I have good confidence right now. So yeah, making plays out there and feeling really good."

Notable 

Columbus held a 35-28 edge in shots on goal. ... With 554 games played, Atkinson passed Fedor Tyutin for second in career games for the CBJ, while Savard (516 games) broke a tie for sixth with Rostislav Klesla and Boone Jenner (446 games) snapped a tie for ninth with RJ Umberger. … The Blue Jackets had killed 18 of the last 19 penalties (94.7 percent) and were at 86.8 percent (33-38) in November before Keller's goal on the Coyotes' only power-play chance of the game. … Columbus had won five of six at Nationwide Arena and 8 of the last 10 in the downtown building vs. Arizona. … The Blue Jackets fell to 0-9-3 when giving up the first goal. … The CBJ power play went 1-for-3 is now 8-for-22 (36.4 percent) in the last seven games. 

Roster Report 

The Blue Jackets put defenseman Scott Harrington into the lineup in place of the injured Zach Werenski, while winger Eric Robinson returned to the lineup for Emil Bemstrom. Andrew Peeke was also a healthy scratch, while Texier played center and Alexander Wennberg moved to wing. 

Up Next 

The Blue Jackets complete a stretch of eight home games in 10 contests Thursday night when they play the Metro rival New York Rangers for the first time this season.  

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