ANAHEIM - This was not the way the Blue Jackets envisioned the start of a three-game trip to the West Coast going.
After stringing a couple of wins together at home and adding veteran pieces before the NHL Trade Deadline, they looked like a team with its arrow pointing skyward toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Now, there's more uncertainty again, after being swept in a back-to-back set by the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, including a 4-2 loss to the Ducks on Friday night at Honda Center.
Anaheim broke a 1-1 tie midway through the second period on goals scored 1:27 apart by Andrew Cogliano, a shorthanded tally, and Josh Manson, who scored off a breakaway seconds after the same Blue Jackets' power play ended.
"We didn't overcome it," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "That's the way it went tonight, where we played good enough to lose. And in that little section of the game, that little minute or so of the game … I don't know what to tell you. That changes the game."
Rickard Rickell scored the first goal for Anaheim, which got 34 saves from Josh Gibson. Sergei Bobrovsky started in net for Columbus and allowed four goals on 35 shots.
Sonny Milano and Zach Werenski scored goals for the Blue Jackets (32-28-5), who fell out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
Werenski's goal was his 12th of the season and first since Dec. 29 in Ottawa, tying him with defense partner Seth Jones (last season) and Bryan Berard (2005-06) for the franchise record for most goals in a season by a defenseman.
"It's been awhile," Werenski said. "I feel like I've been gripping my stick a little bit tighter of late, just because I know how long it's been. I'd have rather gotten a win than a goal."
Here's what we learned:
Video: CBJ@ANA: Werenski rifles wrister past Gibson
I: WHAT IT MEANS
The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New Jersey Devils on Friday to move past the Blue Jackets into the second wild card via a tie-breaker.
Columbus and Carolina each have 69 points after 65 games and each has 26 non-shootout wins, which is the second tiebreaker. The Hurricanes have earned two more points in the season series against the Blue Jackets, which gives them the playoff position.
The Florida Panthers also won Friday, defeating the Buffalo Sabres to push their point total to 68 after 62 games, giving them three games-in hand on both the Jackets and Hurricanes.
"Especially in the position we're in now, every game is a big game," rookie center Pierre-Luc Dubois said. "It's a big two points. It's a playoff push, and it's fun to be in it. The good thing about it is, every game you need to bounce back because … we have 18 games left and six weeks, or something like that, so it's going to be an intense end to the season."
II: POWER-PLAY PROBLEMS
The Blue Jackets have struggled with the man-advantage, off and on, all season.
The one they got after Ducks defenseman Josh Manson was called for interference at 10:35 of the second period, however, was more damaging than simply not generating enough offense. It led directly to the Ducks' second and third goals, scored by Cogliano and Manson to give Anaheim a 3-1 lead.
Cogliano scored at 11:17 following a turnover by Artemi Panarin in the Columbus zone, putting the puck through Bobrovsky's pads to make it 2-1 on the fifth short-handed goal allowed by the Blue Jackets this season.
Manson then beat Bobrovsky through the five-hole again at 12:44, second after getting a breakaway upon leaving the penalty box.
"On that power play, we gave up a shorthanded goal and then we give up one when they guy's coming out of the box, and kind of beat ourselves in those situations," Werenski said. "We've got to find ways to not let that happen, and if it does happen, not let it affect us."
Making the momentum swing even more difficult was the fact the Blue Jackets nearly scored moments before Cogliano's goal. Recently-acquired Thomas Vanek sent a great feed to rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois in front of the net for a low snap shot, but Gibson stopped it with his left pad.
The puck went down the ice into the Columbus zone, where the turnover led to the goal.
"On a power play, we end up with a great chance," Tortorella said. "Great play by [Vanek] to [Dubois], and then before that power play's over, we're down by two. I thought we played a good game other than a couple sections of it, other than a couple minutes of it, but we find ways to lose. That's what we have to turn around."
III: CHAOS ENSUES
Less than a minute after Manson scored, tensions that had built throughout the game boiled over with 6:57 left in the second.
Dubois got into it with Cogliano, who slashed Dubois' stick, and in a flash, there were gloves and other equipment smattered all over the ice.
All 10 players on the ice got involved in the scrum, including Ducks center Ryan Kesler - who'd been involved in several incidents prior to that one, including a stick-holding flare-up with Seth Jones and getting into Dubois' face a couple times.
It wasn't exactly a line brawl, but it was more than your typical post-whistle scrum. Dubois got a minor for roughing, Cogliano got a slashing minor and Kesler got the extra penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"Stuff happens," Dubois said. "I don't think anyone was preparing for it. I don't think anyone was thinking about, 'It's going to happen.' I know I wasn't. It was the heat of the moment, t was a physical game, but I don't think anybody was preparing for it or thinking about it [beforehand]."
The Blue Jackets were unable to score on the ensuing power play.
IV: SONNY IN SO-CAL
It was only the third game back for Milano, who returned to NHL action from a torn oblique muscle in the Jackets' 5-1 victory Monday against the Washington Capitals. Milano scored a beautiful backhand goal in that game, which was his ninth of the season, and then potted his 10th Friday to open the scoring against the Ducks.
Milano charged down the slot unchecked, got a puck kicked to him by forward Oliver Bjorkstrand and put it into the net for the game's first goal. Milano now has 15 points (10 goals, five assists) in 38 games.
"I kind of just saw him in a scrum and just prayed that he'd kick it to an open area, and he did," Milano said. "Good things happen when you go to the net, everybody knows that," Milano said. "You score a lot of goals just timing where the puck's going to be, and that's a big part of my game."
Video: CBJ@ANA: Milano punches loose puck past Gibson
V: NO WENNBERG
The Blue Jackets took the ice for pregame warmup with center Alexander Wennberg with them on the ice. they ended it without him, after he left warmup early because of an upper-body injury.
Brandon Dubinsky skated in Wennberg's spot to start the game and captain Nick Foligno eventually took over that role.
No details were released about Wennberg's injury other than general location of the issue and Tortorella didn't have an update after the game. Wennberg missed time earlier this season on two seperate occasions, including six games Nov. 14-27 for an upper-body injury and Dec. 23 to Jan. 8 with a back injury.
Lukas Sedlak drew back into the lineup to take Wennberg's spot on the active roster, after being scratched Friday against the Kings.
VI: VANEK GETTING ACCLIMATED
Vanek said his debut game with the Blue Jackets was a little difficult for him, simply because it's going to take a little time to get used to the way Columbus plays offensively.
The Blue Jackets like to free up their top defense pairing of Zach Werenski and Seth Jones, allowing them to roam around in the offensive zone and join rush attacks, and that's all new to Vanek.
"I knew about it, but seeing it is something different with how much they join and how much they impact the play," he said. "As a forward, that's great. We play an aggressive game here. I was overthinking a lot of times [Thursday], where hopefully the more I play and the more I get into it, things like that come natural and you just know where to go. Thinking's good, but when you overthink you usually get caught in-between … and in-between is no good."
Tortorella said it might take a couple games and practices for the veteran forward to find his niche in the Blue Jackets' lineup.
"We all know Thomas isn't going to be a [Cam Atkinson] or a speedster or anything like that, but he's a savvy veteran that has great offensive skills," Tortorella said prior to the game. "I want to give him an opportunity. I have to balance that with the guys I have here now too. I'm just going to find my way through it here, as far as what's best for him."
VII: NEXT UP
The Blue Jackets will conclude their three-game road trip with a game against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at SAP Pavilion (9 p.m., Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go).
The Sharks are second in the Pacific Division with 75 points. They're coming off a 7-2 rout of the Chicago Blackhawks on home ice Thursday, which was their second straight win. San Jose doesn't play again until the game against the Blue Jackets.