The Blue Jackets fell to 0-3-5 in the last eight games, losing by a 4-3 score in a shootout against the Nashville Predators on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.
Game in a Paragraph
After the first period was all Nashville and Columbus faced a 2-0 deficit, the Blue Jackets stormed back in the second period to take a 3-2 lead. The Predators tied the game late in the period, though, and the teams played tied for the entirety of the third period and overtime despite 43 shots on goal for the Jackets. Finally, Rocco Grimaldi won an eight-round shootout.
Video: CBJ Recap: Blue Jackets earn point in SO loss
Quote of the Game
CBJ forward Riley Nash on what the team is pouring into games: "Heart, soul, blood. Not the start we wanted but I think we played well probably from about five minutes left in the first period, we started to get some traction, and I thought the second half, the last two periods we were definitely the better team."
- Eric Robinson scored his first goal since Jan. 7, while Emil Bemstrom tallied for the first time since Jan. 16.
- Boone Jenner notched his 11th goal of the year and a team-high seven shots on goal.
- Elvis Merzlikins finished with 33 saves on 36 shots against.
Nashville scored on the first shift to take a 1-0 lead 33 seconds into the game. Ryan Ellis' shot from the right point was tipped in front and former Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen was on the spot to wipe the rebound past Merzlikins to get the Preds on the board.
The Blue Jackets had a 2-on-1 with a chance to tie the score, but Juuse Saros made the stop on Pierre-Luc Dubois' shot before Nashville made it 2-0 at 10:31. Dubois whiffed on a pass to Markus Nutivaara, and that set the Predators off on a 2-on-1, with Filip Forsberg feeding Mikael Granlund left to right to put the puck past Merzlikins.
Columbus was outshot 17-9 in that opening stanza, but whatever the first intermission chat was had to have been a doozy as the Blue Jackets put 20 shots on net in the second and tallied three goals.
It took just 1:00 for the first one to go in, as off a faceoff win in the offensive zone, Jenner got the puck to Nathan Gerbe in front, and while Saros stopped Gerbe's first two whacks at the puck, Jenner provided backup and put a third shot on net that got past the Nashville netminder to make it 2-1.
Columbus then tied the score at 4:50 as Robinson got on the board. Off another CBJ faceoff win, the Blue Jackets controlled the puck and Jakob Lilja fed the puck out from behind the net to the onrushing Robinson, who drilled a one-timer past the blocker of Saros to knot the score at 2.
Merzlikins made a big stop on Colton Sissons to keep it tied later in the period with his pad as the Nashville center came in alone, and shortly therafter, the Blue Jackets took a 3-2 lead on the power play. Bemstrom got the puck in the right circle and beat Saros with a wrister as Jenner set a solid screen in front, with the goal coming at 17:21.
But Columbus couldn't finish off the period, as Sissons knotted the score with 1:03 left in the period. Filip Forsberg threw a puck on net from the left wing boards and Sissons was alone in front for a nifty tip that eluded Merzlikins.
The CBJ goalie did make a big stop, though, just 15 seconds into the third period as a puck bounced off of David Savard in front right to the stick of Rocco Grimaldi, but Merzlikins was there to make the pad stop. The Blue Jackets also had a good look early in the period as Dubois tipped a shot from the point, but Saros was able to swallow up the bouncing puck.
The team then skated scoreless through the rest of the third and overtime before an eight-round shootout. Dubois and Gus Nyquist scored for the Blue Jackets, but each was answered and then Grimaldi beat Merzlikins in round eight to give the Preds a 3-2 win in the skills competition.
1. The Blue Jackets need two points at some point, but you can't be too disappointed with the team effort tonight. After a slow start, Columbus battled back from a two-goal deficit and gave Nashville everything it could handle. The eight-game losing skid is frustrating for sure, but Columbus still has points in five of those games and in 29 of the last 34 as well. That they're doing it with so many players on injured reserve is all the more incredible. "We're not looking at it as a loss tonight," head coach John Tortorella. "We're just trying to scratch for points. I have a tremendous amount of respect tonight as far as how they handled themselves."
2. Where the losses really show, though, is in the overtime and shootout, where Columbus keeps seeing the same movie repeat. How nice would it be to have Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Josh Anderson and Seth Jones in 3-on-3 play, let alone the shootout. The Blue Jackets lead the NHL with 14 losses in extra time, including five straight, and is 7-14 overall this year when the game goes past regulation. In shootouts, the Jackets are 0-4 this year. "We had some chances," Tortorella said of overtime. "I thought we defended it better too. (Zach Werenski) has a chance, one just trickles by Nasher on the rebound, he just can't get to it. That's the way it goes."
3. Tortorella has said the team's top players -- those who are left, anyway -- have to lead the way, but the Blue Jackets got yeoman's work up and down the lineup tonight. The line with Nash centering Robinson and Lilja was one Tortorella kept going to and was able to create an excellent forecheck. Getting goals from Robinson and Bemstrom was nice, too, as the youngsters have some offensive talent and showed it. Bemstrom said he views himself as someone who can chip in given the fact he's noted as an offensive prospect despite being just 20 years old. "They probably drafted me because I can score goals, so I have to do it," Bemstrom said. "When all the guys are our like Bjorky, Cam, the big goal scorers on this team, I have to step up. That's how it is."
With an assist on Bemstrom's power-play goal, Markus Nutivaara has a 1-4-5 line in the last six games. … Stefan Matteau got the second assist on Jenner's goal, giving him a goal and an assist in two games since being signed and called up from Cleveland. … Columbus is 8-4-3 in the last 15 games when giving up the first goal. … Thirteen of the last 14 games for Columbus have been one-goal games, excluding empty-net goals. ... Nashville has won six of seven at home in the series.
The Blue Jackets inserted the newly called up Calvin Thurkauf into the lineup for his NHL debut. Healthy scratches were forward Sonny Milano and defenseman Gabriel Carlsson, while Bjorkstrand is out after suffering a fractured/sprained ankle Thursday and injured goaltender Joonas Korpisalo started on Saturday night for AHL Cleveland on a conditioning assignment.
The Blue Jackets return home Monday to take on Ottawa at Nationwide Arena.