It was a mirror image of the first three games against the Carolina Hurricanes, who ducked and dodged a barrage of shots and scored just enough goals to defeat the Blue Jackets, 2-1, at Nationwide Arena on Saturday.
Columbus had more shots, 36-24, and controlled the puck a lot more, but just couldn't get more than one of those shots past goalie Scott Darling - who made 35 saves.
"I don't care how many shots are on the board," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "There's probably one or two second chances. It's a winnable game if we get some run support, and we don't. We don't generate enough, as far as rebounds."
Here's how it went down:
(Corsi, scoring chance data per naturalstattrick.com)
Goals: CBJ - Alexander Wennberg EV (Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand), 12:01; CAR - Jordan Staal EV (Justin Williams, Brock McGinn), 3:40
Shots: Blue Jackets 16, Hurricanes 8
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Blue Jackets 66.7% (24-12), Hurricanes 33.3% (12-24),
Scoring chances 5v5: Blue Jackets 8, Hurricanes 6
High-Danger chances 5v5: Blue Jackets 6, Hurricanes 3
Period summary: It wasn't the greatest start for Columbus, which chased the puck off the hop and allowed the game's first goal less than five minutes into it. Staal shot the puck from the right wing, and watched it deflect into the net off the blade of Jack Johnson's stick.
It was the eighth time in the past 10 games the Hurricanes scored first, which is usually good news for them. Carolina brought an 11-3-2 record into the game when taking a 1-0 lead.
The Jackets eventually came to life, though, and then they dominated. Columbus tied it on Wennberg's goal, his third of the season, and finished the period with eight more shots on goal. The Blue Jackets controlled the puck in the last 10 minutes of the first, as well, forcing Carolina goalie Scott Darling to make some elite level saves to keep it tied.
"I thought we controlled the play," Tortorella said. "I thought we had our forecheck, but give them some credit. Darling made some key saves at key times. Whether it's us, or them defending that well, we're just not getting enough second chances."
Goals: CBJ - None; CAR - Noah Hanifin EV (Derek Ryan, Jeff Skinner), 12:58
Shots: Blue Jackets 12, Hurricanes 10
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Blue Jackets 50% (13-13), Hurricanes 50% (13-13),
Scoring chances 5v5: Blue Jackets 6, Hurricanes 5
High-Danger chances 5v5: Hurricanes 2, Blue Jackets 0
Period summary: Now this was some typical Hurricanes-Blue Jackets hockey, with less shots and more battles that simply led to more battles.
It's exactly the way the Hurricanes frustrated the Blue Jackets in the first three games, and helped them Saturday in the finale of a back-to-back set that concluded 24 hours after Carolina ended a six-game, 13-day road trip Friday in Buffalo.
The strategy, when executed effectively, bogs down the game and doesn't allow many scoring chances. It also paves the way for the Hurricanes to be opportunistic with their own offense. It worked perfectly on Hanifin's goal, which put the Hurricanes up 2-1.
Derek Ryan's shot got under Bobrovsky's left skate and hit the right post, sending the puck out in front of the net for Hanifin to zip through and clean up for his sixth goal of the season.
The Blue Jackets again outshot Carolina, but began to settle for shots from the perimeter - which made life easier on Darling than in the first.
"They did a really good job in the neutral zone," Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson said. "They were trapping, and when they did [force turnovers] they were attacking on our [defensemen]. I think we tried, but they played well tonight."
Goals: CBJ - None; CAR - None
Shots: Blue Jackets 8, Hurricanes 6
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Blue Jackets 70% (14-6), Hurricanes 30% (6-14),
Scoring chances 5v5: Blue Jackets 9, Hurricanes 4
High-Danger chances 5v5: Blue Jackets 4, Hurricanes 3
Period summary: Just as they did in the final 10 minutes of the first period, the Blue Jackets came out and pressed the Hurricanes hard. They dominated puck possession, but still had trouble gaining the middle third of the ice through the neutral and offensive zones.
As a result, the majority of their shots came from the perimeter, and Darling hung onto a lot of them to prevent rebounds. One of the Jackets' best scoring opportunities happened at 3:13, with Columbus killing a penalty after Set Jones accidentally shot the puck over the glass in the defensive zone.
Alexander Wennberg picked off a pass in the neutral zone by defenseman Justin Faulk, and sent it to Atkinson for a shorthanded breakaway. Atkinson was tripped by Faulk, as Darling made the save. Atkinson wanted a penalty shot to be called, but instead Faulk was sent to the penalty box.
The Blue Jackets got a shortened power play out of it, after Jones served his time, but the couldn't tie the game off it.
"It was a great pass [from Wennberg]," Atkinson said. "It was one of those passes where I had my stick on the ice, and I knew he was going to pass it to me, but I couldn't really see the puck because the guy was in my vision. He made a great play, and it should've been a penalty shot, I think."
Overall shots: Blue Jackets 36, Hurricanes 24
Overall Corsi: Blue Jackets 62.2% (51-31), Hurricane 37.8% (31-51)
Overall 5v5 Scoring chances: Blue Jackets 22, Hurricanes 15
Overall High-Danger chances: Blue Jackets 10, Hurricanes 8
(All times ET)
Blue Jackets: At the Boston Bruins on Monday (7 p.m., FS-O, Fox Sports Go; Radio: 97.1 FM, BlueJackets.com, SN, TVA Sports, NESN, NHL.TV)
Hurricanes: At the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday (2 p.m., SNO. FS-CR, NHL.TV)