NEW YORK - John Tortorella didn't mince words Monday at Madison Square Garden.
After watching his team give up three power-play goals in the third period to erase leads of 2-1 and 3-2, the Blue Jackets coach didn't need long to assess what happened in a 5-3 loss to New York Rangers.
"Stupid," Tortorella said. "We don't deserve to win. We took stupid penalties. You don't win hockey games taking penalties like that in the third period."
Columbus started the third with a 2-1 lead, after goals by Artemi Panarin and Josh Anderson in the second period. They proceeded to take three penalties in the third, by Panarin (high-sticking), Zac Dalpe (elbowing) and David Savard (tripping, and the Rangers scored on all three power-plays that ensued.
New York finished its scoring when Michael Grabner scored the second of his two goals on the night into an empty net at 19:11, sealing the Jackets' second straight defeat.
"Couldn't kill one off," Tortorella said. "When you take stupid penalties, you don't kill them off. We're a dumb hockey team tonight. We [threw] one away."
Part of the issue stems from injuries to three key forwards: Cam Atkinson (lower body), Lukas Sedlak (ankle) and Matt Calvert (upper body), who was placed on injured reserve Monday to join the other two and will be out three to four weeks.
Without Calvert and Sedlak, especially, the Blue Jackets' penalty kill has some big voids that need to be filled. Prior to the game, Tortorella said Markus Hannikainen would get some of Calvert's penalty-killing minutes, and played 1:16 while shorthanded.
He wasn't on the ice for any of the Rangers' power-play goals in the third.
Brandon Dubinsky was, and said the issues started right off the puck drops. He was beaten on faceoffs right before each of the last two power-play goals.
"It starts with the faceoff," said Dubinsky, who assisted on a goal by Oliver Bjorkstrand in the third that briefly gave the Jackets a 3-2 lead. "The first one was clean. The second one he got me. I've got to find a way to win those. Sometimes it's tough on that side, but when the team needs it most, I've got to come through and find a way to at least tie the draw up and get us an opportunity."
There isn't much time to assess what else went wrong against New York. The Blue Jackets will host the Nashville Predators at Nationwide Arena on Monday in the finale of a back-to-back and final game in a set of three in four days.
Prior to the game, asked about Calvert's absence, Tortorella summed up how big of a hole it creates in the lineup.
"He's been our best 200-foot player all year long, from the start of camp to where he was lost last game," he said. "All the way through."
Calvert's injury occurred Saturday on a hard open-ice hit by Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi. He flew back to Columbus rather than heading to New York with the team Sunday, and his absence was felt, especially in the third period.
He's their best penalty-killing forward, the longest-tenured Blue Jackets' player and an emotional leader in the locker room. His absence also led to Dalpe's return to the lineup. Dalpe was penalized at 9:37 of the third for throwing an elbow after absorbing a big hit that knocked him to the ice.
"That's a penalty," Tortorella said. "It's a penalty. You don't give them an opportunity to make a call at that time."
The good news is there's another game in less than 24 hours to make up for the mistakes that happened Monday. It's another chance for role players who'd been on the outside looking in, when everybody was healthy, to make a good impression."
"This is what the league's about," Tortorella said. "We always talk when you have injuries, someone else is the next guy up, and it gives them an opportunity to bang on the door and maybe say, 'You know what, I want some of this ice time when he comes back.' So, yeah, it's healthy."
The Blue Jackets aren't, though, overall, and it cost them a game they seemed to have control over in the second - when Panarin ended a career-long 10-game goal-less stretch with his second goal of the season, both against the Rangers.
Panarin and Anderson gave Columbus a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the second period, after Sergei Bobrovsky kept it 0-0 in the first with some outstanding work in net. The Blue Jackets just couldn't get it to 3-0, and then stumbled while shorthanded in the third.
It was stunning to see so many goals scored with Columbus on the penalty kill. The Jackets' PK units have been one of the league's best to start the season, and were especially good at home - killing their first 17 straight at Nationwide Arena to set a new franchise record.
They staved off two Rangers power-plays in the first 40 minutes, including one following a goaltender interference call on Bjorkstrand in the second, but the third was a much different outcome.
"We've got to try and have a short memory," Dubinsky said. "We've got a good Nashville team [Monday], and we've got to be ready to come back and have a good kill, because we're certainly probably going to take a couple tomorrow."
News & Notes
NASH HONORED: Prior to the game, former Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash was honored on the ice for playing his 1,000th NHL game Oct. 26 against the Arizona Coyotes. The Rangers played a video montage of highlights throughout his career, including the Blue Jackets selecting him No. 1 overall in the 2002 NHL Draft. Nash, who was joing on the ice by his wife and young son, was also presented with a portrait of his Columbus years by John Davidson, the Blue Jackets' president of hockey operations.
MSG MEMORY: This was Pierre-Luc Dubois' first game at Madison Square Garden, which made a childhood dream a reality for the 19-year old rookie forward. Dubois is from Ste-Agathe-Des-Monts, QC, but visited the famed arena in New York when he was 11, while on vacation to visit family in New Jersey.
"I came here with my parents," said Dubois, who began the game on the top line. "My mom has family in New Jersey, so we came here just to see 'MSG.' It was the summertime. I remember we got off the train here, the train station, and it was just really amazing for me. Now I'm here today, and I get to play here. It's pretty crazy."
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Having three key forwards out at the same time is a tall order to fill, but Tortorella said it's also an opening for some depth forwards to show what they can do. Prior to the game, he said he'd have no choice but to play the fourth line of Sonny Milano, Dalpe and Markus Hannikainen more often - even if it meant playing each of them separately with forwards from other lines, mixing and matching.
"Well, you don't have [Atkinson], you don't have Sedlak, you don't have [Calvert] … they're going to get more minutes," Tortorella said. "Whether the fourth line plays as a fourth line, I don't know. I've kind of bumped people around. We'll see how it goes, but they're going to get more ice time."
Once the game began, however, the plan seemed to change. Milano played 6:58 in 10 shifts, Hannikainen played 6:36 in 11 shifts and Dalpe played 5:25. He didn't play again after committing the elbowing penalty at 9:37 of the third.
"It gives guys opportunities to play," Tortorella said of the injuries up front. "Some guys sit in the background, and [complain] that they want to be in the lineup. They want more minutes. OK, here's your opportunity. We're pretty much an open book as far as what our lineup is going to be. They make the decisions on who plays. This gives them an opportunity to force the decision our way."
DUBOIS NOT THINKING OF WORLD JUNIORS: Dubois was asked before the game if he's done any thinking about the possibility of playing for Canada in the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships, which will be held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Buffalo, NY.
The short answer: not yet. The longer answer: maybe down the road. Dubois attended the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase event for Canada this past summer in Plymouth, Mich.
"Right now, I'm here and this is where I want to be," he said. "I want to help the team win. We have a really good team, and every night I want to contribute. The final decisions isn't up to me, but I want to be here right now, and I am here right now, and I want to keep going and pushing at that. If they tell me to go back to World Juniors to help Team Canada, I'll concentrate on that, but for now I'm here and all I want to do is help the team here."
Odds and ends: Panarin's goal was his sixth against the Rangers in his NHL career, and second in as many games this season. Panarin has eight points (six goals, two assists) against the Rangers in six games. … Bjorkstrand has scored three goals in the past three games. … Anderson has seven points (five goals, two assists) in the past eight games. … Dubinsky's assist on Bjorkstrand's goal was his 200th point (61 goals, 139 assists) as a member of the Blue Jackets.
(All times ET)
Rangers: Host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday (8 p.m., NBCSN, NHL.TV)
Blue Jackets: Host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday (7 p.m., TV: FS-O, Fox Sports Go, FS-TN; Radio: 97.1 FM, BlueJackets.com)