It was a fun game Saturday night at Nationwide Arena, so long as you weren't a coach who likes defense or the Blue Jackets at the end of it.
Following the Los Angeles Kings' 6-4 victory, which wasn't decided until late in the third period on Anze Kopitar's second goal of the game, the Blue Jackets (5-3-0) had both good things and not-so-good things to take into a day off Sunday.
Among the good were Boone Jenner's impressive return to the lineup, a power-play goal by Nick Foligno to break an 0-for-18 slump, a multi-point game for Foligno, another goal for rookie Sonny Milano - who leads the team with five - and two guys, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Matt Calvert, who scored their first goals.
"It was a close game, so it could've gone either way," Bjorkstrand said. "You've got to have the mentality that it's going to go your way, and keep pushing at it. It sucked that they got that [late] goal [by Kopitar], but that's how it is sometimes."
Kopitar and Dustin Brown both were great, finishing with four points each. Kopitar had two assists to go with his two goals, while Brown had three primary assists before sealing this game for the Kings by scoring into an empty net.
Which leads to the not-so-good, including a second straight loss to open a four-game homestand, another tough night at the face-off dot for the Jackets (43 percent) and Kopitar's game-winner.
It was the second time Brown fed him for a goal, and even more precise than the one in the first period, which tied it 1-1.
Alex Iafallo kept the puck alive in the Columbus zone on two separate occasions, Brown got it near the left-wing wall and sent a quick, strong feed to the front of the net. Kopitar snuck behind Calvert to tip it past Sergei Bobrovsky with one hand.
Ultimately, that was the difference in a back-and-forth game.
"It's just the coverage," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "Calvy's right there. I don't think we play it that well in the corner, but still, a 30-foot pass across ice, Calvy sees the guy and just lets him get behind, you know? To me, that's a very defendable goal. And that line played so well. [Brandon Dubinsky's] line played well, Calvy played his [tail] off, but that's a coverage. That's an easy coverage."
Again, some good (hard work) and some not-so-good (costly breakdowns).
The Blue Jackets now have three days before they play again Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres, with time to practice and time to erase the bad from this one.
"It seemed like maybe we made just a few mistakes that cost us some goals," Bjorkstrand said. "I'm not 100 percent that was the case, but I think maybe that was why. Bear down on those, and it could've been a little different game."
News and Notes
- Jenner felt good in his return, and it showed in his play. He didn't score, but finished with six shots, 11 shot attempts, a game-high four hits and played 18:11. He also helped Foligno's line to create multiple chances around the net. Jenner missed all of the preseason and the first seven games of the regular season with a middle-body injury. "I knew it was going to be a fast game," he said. "Every game is fast, so to jump in this one was good. Obviously, it takes a little bit to get the speed down, or the pace, but I felt pretty comfortable right away."
- The Jackets' three goals in the first period was the third time they've scored three goals in a period this season. It was the first time they've lost the game while doing it. The first two were Oct. 6 against the New York Islanders on opening night, a 5-0 win here, and this past Tuesday in Winnipeg, a 5-2 win for their fourth straight victory.
- Prior to the game, Tortorella said the Blue Jackets needed to get the puck to Panarin more during power plays. "I think that's one adjustment that I think's going to happen," he said. He was right. Panarin got the puck on the Jackets' first power play, feathered a pass to Foligno to spring him into the slot and Foligno buried a wrist shot to break the power play's 0-for-18 slump - just like they drew it up.
- Columbus has yet to allow an opponent to score a power-play goal at Nationwide Arena this season. The Jackets are 9-for-9 on penalty kills in four games on home ice.
(All times ET)
Kings: At the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday (7 p.m., FS-W, TSN4, TVA Sports, NHL.TV)
Blue Jackets: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday (8 p.m., NBCSN)
Video: Bob and Jody break down game vs. Kings