The game plan was to be proactive, not reactive, and the Blue Jackets did a solid job of that against the high-powered Washington Capitals – but a pair of mistakes came back to haunt them tonight.
Columbus had its foot on the gas pedal in the opening 20 minutes, getting pucks to the net in front of Braden Holtby and defending well in their own end.
On top of that, the visitors got a tremendous effort in goal from Sergei Bobrovsky, who punctuated the first period with a highlight-reel toe save in the dying seconds.
But in the second period, they were guilty of some sloppiness with the puck and it fed into the Capitals' counterattack. After getting caught for an extended shift in the defensive zone, the Blue Jackets couldn’t recover and gave up a goal to Justin Williams, the game’s opening goal at 14:16 of the second period.
TJ Oshie scored the game winner on a 3-on-1 rush in the third period, dropping Columbus to 2-2-0 under coach John Tortorella.
Matt Calvert’s first goal of the season brought Columbus within a goal at 2-1 late in the third, but the Blue Jackets couldn’t get a second goal past Holtby and draw level.
“I thought we played well but we didn’t generate a lot of offense,” Tortorella said. “I thought that was the weakest part of our game tonight. We certainly played hard.
“We’ve got to get our offense going. We defended well. There were a lot of good things in it, but we didn’t find a way to win this game. We’re not looking for moral victories here, but we’re going to move by it and learn from it.”
The Blue Jackets had the puck a lot but were unable to capitalize in the offensive zone, but the generation of those opportunities has Tortorella and his players encouraged.
They got in on the forecheck, used their size to protect pucks and keep plays alive, but around the net, they didn’t have enough to tilt things in their favor.
“They gained momentum and scored their goal and got the lead, but we never gave up,” said Ryan Johansen, who returned to the lineup after missing two games due to illness. “Bob made some huge saves for us and kept us in the game, and it’s tough not coming out of here with a point tonight.
"They’re a good defensive team. It’s a good team over there that played pretty well tonight.