In tonight's game, the Blue Jackets did a lot of things right. They controlled the shot battle, matched the Predators physicality, and won the faceoff battles. But missed opportunities and mistakes that led to odd-man rushes and breakaways prevented the Jackets from taking home the victory, and they fell to the Nashville Predators 4-3.
"I don't think it's anything they did," Zach Werenski said. "They played a hard game, but we gave them a lot of free chances, a lot of breakaways, two on ones. They capitalized on them. Bob made some key saves when we needed him to. I think without Bob the score would have been different. I think we hurt ourselves tonight."
Nashville got on the board first off a Ryan Ellis goal and added a Kevin Fiala tally in the second period before the Jackets answered. Brandon Saad tipped in a Seth Jones shot to narrow the gap 2-1, but then a lost puck by Alexander Wennberg gave Calle Jarnkrok a clear path to Sergei Bobrovsky and he scored to make it 3-1.
The Jackets didn't give up. They crawled back into the game through an Oliver Bjorkstrand goal that came after he collected a Wennberg pass off the outside edge of his skate. Then Werenski tied it up 3-3 when he got the puck, again from Wennberg, and with time and space, placed his shot perfectly past Juuse Saros.
Ultimately, a Mattias Ekholm goal that came after a bad Jackets' line change was the decider.
"It's a tough way to lose when you beat yourself," head coach John Tortorella said.
Headed into the bye week, the Jackets are 37-16-5.
Let's take a look at what we learned.
Video: Werenski on self-inflicted wounds tonight vs. NSH
The team can't allow self-inflicted wounds.
Two Predators goals came off Blue Jackets mistakes, and the visiting team had many more opportunities where they ended up with the puck and the man advantage in the offensive zone.
The mistakes started with small puck decisions and the wrong choice being made in the wrong situation according to Tortorella.
"I think (Nashville) plays a quick transition game," Werenski said. "It's one of the quicker teams doing that. So they get a lot of fly balls, they fly the zone. I don't know if we were ready for it tonight, but we have to get better."
Video: Saad on contributing on the scoresheet tonight
Zach Werenski continues to impress.
When Werenski joined the Jackets this season, he made his presence known immediately. In his first nine games he had ten points (2-8-10). But the 19-year-old has not faced an 82-game season before, and his endurance for the marathon that is an NHL season is something the Jackets have wanted to help him manage.
"He's played a lot of hockey," Tortorella said. "He's not used to playing this amount of hockey. But some of the stuff he does? That is not teachable it's just in him."
Tonight, Werenski assisted on the Jackets first two goals, and then provided the final score himself. The game was his first career three point game, and the goal awarded him first place among all Jackets rookie defenseman for goals scored (9) and there are still 24 regular season games to be played.
I've gotten that second wind a little bit," Werenski said. "For me it's been better as of late. There's a patch where I struggled a bit so it's definitely nice to get back going the right direction."
Video: Bjorkstrand on making the most of his NHL chances
Bye bye bye.
The Jackets now head out for their league mandated five-day bye week. It's a break this group is looking forward to as a time to rest and rejuvenate mentally and physically before the final quarter of the regular season.
But teams returning from their breaks have not found much success. Through Saturday, teams returning from a bye are 3-12-4 in their first game back. The Jackets will jump right back into it with three games in four nights. They cannot expect to ease back into this final chunk of the schedule.
Saturday, the coaches and trainers met with the team to share with them possible workouts and tips for the players while they are on break, and Tortorella is trusting his players to be ready to go when they come back on Friday.
"Tonight is a tough one to lose," Tortorella said. "But I thought our transition was good for a lot of the game. We're heading in the right direction. We need to stay positive here, we come back from the bye and we have a home game. I just don't know what's going to happen after five days away in the middle of the year. Hopefully we'll try to find a way to scrape away here and get our game back as quick as possible."