The Blue Jackets' winless streak ran to five games, as Columbus dropped a 2-1 final to Vegas in Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night.
Game in a Paragraph
Despite numerous high-quality scoring chances including at least four pucks that got into the blue behind goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Columbus again fell to defeat. Vegas led 1-0 after a period, 2-1 after two and then held on as a pair of goals scored by Miami University product Reilly Smith from former Blue Jacket William Karlsson proved to be the difference.
Quote of the Game
Head coach John Tortorella: "We're close, but that doesn't put you in the win column."
Video: CBJ Recap: Jenner scores lone goal in 2-1 loss
- Boone Jenner scored his fourth goal of the season.
- Emil Bemstrom had four shots on goal, a number of them dangerous looks.
- Joonas Korpisalo finished with 23 saves on 25 shots against, giving him a .925 save percentage in his last two games.
Columbus had some excellent chances early, including two looks by Cam Atkinson on the team's first power play, the latter of which hit the underside of Fleury's glove and ticked wide. Fleury also got big enough to stop an excellent tipped chance by Zach Werenski in the frame.
It looked as though it would be 0-0 after one, but the Golden Knights scored with 44.8 seconds left in the period. A breakout pass from Nate Schmidt found Jonathan Marchessault at the offensive blue line, and Marchessault fed it cross-ice to Karlsson who dropped it to Reilly Smith. Smith cut to the net and centered it from in close, where it deflected past Korpisalo.
The Blue Jackets challenged for offside on Marchessault, but he was ruled to be in possession of the puck as he crossed ahead of the line, so Columbus was penalized for losing the challenge.
Nothing came of the Vegas power play, though, and Columbus tied the score at 1-1 at 5:37. A flubbed shot attempt by Jon Merrill sent the Blue Jackets racing with Josh Anderson carting the puck into the zone, and the chance ended with Dean Kukan setting up Jenner for a shot past a screened Fleury from the left circle.
Columbus earned a power play shortly thereafter, but it went against the Jackets when Smith scored his second of the night shorthanded. A cross-ice pass by Nick Foligno was intercepted and led to the breakout, with Karlsson feeding Smith right to left to shoot home.
The Blue Jackets had some great chances to score late in the second but couldn't slide it home either time. A puck got loose in the crease behind Fleury on a shot by Oliver Bjorkstrand just as a CBJ power play ended, but Foligno couldn't find it in his skates to put it in, and moments later, Sonny Milano was open at the side of the net but fired wide of the open cage behind Fleury.
Video: Tortorella talks about being close.
Columbus had another great chance 5:35 into the third period as a long, innocuous shot by Kukan was never seen by Fleury, but he did hear it as it pinged the iron to his right and then -- fortuitously for the goalie -- shot back under him to keep the Golden Knights in the lead.
There was another heartstopper in the blue of the paint with about nine minutes to go, but again the Golden Knights came away unharmed. Atkinson fed Seth Jones for a rip from the slot, and the Fleury got a piece of it but couldn't stop it from trickling behind him, but Vegas was able to clear it before Atkinson could pounce on the rebound.
Another chance came with about three minutes to go as Bjorkstrand got behind the defense from a pass by Alexander Wennberg, but Fleury made the pad save and Columbus just could not get the tying goal.
1. When it rains, it pours: There were so many possibilities how that one could have ended differently for Columbus, but let us count the ways. Vegas' opening goal deflected in off a Blue Jacket -- replays were inconclusive whether it was Korpisalo, Bjorkstrand or a combination of the two -- and very easily could have been ruled offside, too. Then there were the chances for Columbus, and it's shocking how many pucks got behind Fleury in the crease but didn't go in. If Columbus flipped a coin with two sides of heads on it and called "heads," it would land on its side right now.
2. Some mistakes, still: That's not to say the Blue Jackets were perfect. Heck, no one is in hockey, and what irked Tortorella the most was the team losing patience in the second period. Two wild offensive zone passes led to a pair of odd-man rushes by Karlsson and Smith, with the latter cashing in the first of those chances shorthanded. There were other turnovers in the defensive zone, as well, Tortorella said. "We got a little sloppy with turnovers, lost our patience with some turnovers at their blue line, a couple behind their net," he said. "Korpi made a couple of great saves to keep us there."
3. At some point, the goals have to go in, right? For much of the game, the Blue Jackets had some confident offensive verve going, but as it has for most of this year, the final play wasn't made. "You see the puck, it's laying on the goal line," Korpisalo said. "It's like, 'Yes!' (then) 'No!'" Logically, it feels like eventually the payoff will come, but in the meantime, the lack of points in the bank is starting to hurt. Considering the Blue Jackets have five goals in the last four games, the offense is left with nothing but an empty feeling. "I'd by lying if I said it's not frustrating," Gustav Nyquist said.
The Blue Jackets, who had a 30-25 edge in shots on goal, finished 0-for-4 on the power play while Vegas was 0-for-3. ... Markus Nutivaara was hit in the head by a puck early in the second period and did not return. … Columbus fell to 0-7-3 when giving up the first goal. ... Vegas entered the game leading the NHL in hits, but Columbus had a 19-10 edge in the stat.
The Blue Jackets returned Nutivaara into the lineup in place of Scott Harrington, who was a healthy scratch along with winger Markus Hannikainen.
Columbus heads out west for the start of a three-game road trip, taking on Arizona on Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET.