Sunday, the Jackets welcomed the Nashville Predators to town. The Blue Jackets battled and generated plenty of offense, but mistakes cost them, and they fell by a score of 5-3.
The Jackets let their opponents get on the scoreboard first.
On their second shot of the afternoon, the Predators capitalized on a 2-on-1. Filip Forsberg carried the puck down the left side and fired a shot from the circle to set the score at 1-0.
Just over four minutes later, Miikka Salomaki doubled Nashville's lead. He carried the puck into the crease, and two Jackets defenders, before beating Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Jackets had their opportunities. The inaugural appearance of the Artemi Panarin-Alexander Wennberg-Cam Atkinson line generated more than a few chances. Other notable ones came when Oliver Bjorkstrand fed Scott Harrington, and Sonny Milano drove to the net. But the home team was unable to convert in the first and finished the period down 2-0.
Early in the second, the Jackets responded. They made the most of their second power play of the game when Wennberg carried the puck into the zone and sent a pass backward to Panarin in the high slot. Panarin fired, and the rebound got to Atkinson who was waiting on the right side of the net. The All-Star forward banged the puck in to cut the Predators' lead in half.
But the Predators were expert in seizing the chances they got. After a bad pass, Kevin Fiala got the puck and dangled around the Jackets to hook the puck around Bobrovsky far side. The goal re-established a two-goal lead for Nashville, and the period ended with a score of 3-1.
At the turn of the period, the Jackets again struck early. Just 2:23 into the third, Seth Jones gathered the puck off a John Mitchell faceoff and fed it to Zach Werenski who was perched just below the blue line. The defenseman one-timed a shot to beat Juuse Saros and bring the game back to within one goal.
Nashville did capitalize on another Jackets mistake. Just under three minutes later, a slashing call on Paul Bittner put the Jackets on the penalty kill. Pontus Aberg beat Bobrovsky to make it 4-2.
But the Jackets wouldn't back down. 12 minutes in, the top line produced when Panarin got the puck to Atkinson who passed across the slot to Wennberg who did not fail. The score deficit was again only one.
While the pace of the game was fast and furious in the final minutes, the home team couldn't muster another goal. In the final minute, Nashville's Fiala added an empty net score, his second goal of the game, and the game ended 5-3 in favor of the Predators.
By the numbers:
3: Number of Jackets who played two games in less than 24 hours. Zach Werenski, Alexander Wennberg and Oliver Bjorkstrand all played in both today's game and Saturday's 3-2 win over Chicago. That game had an 8:30 p.m. ET start.
81.25%: The Jackets' share of 5-on-5 scoring chances in the first period, according to naturalstattrick.com.
3: Seth Jones wore the A for the Jackets in Sunday's matinee.
28%: Percentage of Jackets' shot attempts generated by Wennberg, Panarin and Atkinson.
"What the said."
John Tortorella on the Panarin-Wennberg-Atkinson line: "I thought they had some good shifts. I thought they had some opportunistic shifts. They were up and down through the game as most of our team was."
Tortorella on Panarin and putting Atkinson on that line: "There's a lot more to (Panarin) than just scoring goals. He'll chase pucks, he understands the game, he does a lot of work within in his game. I wanted to give Cam a look over there (on that line). With his speed, quickness and jumping on pucks, that will help that line."
Wennberg on playing two games in 24 hours: "I started (my preseason) with a back-to-back. Might as well start hard."
Wennberg on his first game experience with Panarin and Atkinson: "It felt good it was the first game, we got a feel for each other. We found each other pretty good, we got some points.
When you play together, you have to feel how the guys think a little bit. So you read off each other. With more ice time and more talk, and I think, it's going to turn out great."