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What We Learned: STL 4, CBJ 1

Jackets comeback effort was evident, but the result wasn't

by Brian Hedger BlueJacketsNHL /

ST. LOUIS - The Blue Jackets' comeback effort was there again, but the reason it was even needed was too.

It lingered Saturday night at Scottrade Center, where the Jackets lost 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues and fell a point short of tying a franchise record with 15 points in 11 games - also done in 2007-08.

Slow starts have become an issue through the first 11 games for Columbus (7-4-0), and the search for a solution is under way.

"We've got to find a way to get prepared, and everybody gets prepared in different ways," veteran center Brandon Dubinsky said. "Guys [have] got to maybe find a way to change it up and figure it out, but we've got to find a way to come to work on time."

It's a phrase that's used quite a bit in hockey to describe poor starts, "Didn't get to work on time," but it sums up accurately what this season's been like for the Blue Jackets through 11 games.

Much of the time, they've dominated puck possession and put a bunch of shots on the opposing net. They're just not the guy at the office who shows up 15 minutes early to everything, every day.

"It comes through in practices a little bit too," Dubinsky said. "We've had some practices where we haven't been crisp right from the get-go, and I think practice leads into games. That's just the way it's been. We've got to clean it up, not just the games, but practices as well, so we can start building that as part of our identity."

Currently, the Blue Jackets' identity can be described as young, talented, fast and maybe just a little sleepy.

All four of those descriptors were evident in the back-to-back that ended with the loss to the Blues (9-2-1).

Columbus had a couple of drowsy starts in both games, and fought hard to overcome them once the Jackets heard the alarm go off.

Against Winnipeg, it only took one goal by Brandon Tanev less than five minutes into the game to get their attention. Against St. Louis, it was goals by Vladimir Sobotka with 34 seconds left in the first period and Scottie Upshall at 6:31 of the second.

After Upshall scored, having a puck deflect into the net off his skate, St. Louis had a 2-0 lead. From that point to the end of the period, the Blue Jackets basically threw everything they could at Blues goalie Jake Allen, to no avail.

Allen made some great stops among his 36 saves, and Columbus went into the second intermission frustrated.

"I thought we put in some good minutes," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "I thought we didn't have a lot of puck luck. I thought we were getting closer. Allen made some key saves. Some of them, I don't think he even saw the puck, but the team that won tonight deserved to win."

Columbus dominated the second period, outshooting the Blues 17-11 and taking more than 60 percent of all shot-attempts. The Jackets just couldn't score.

Matt Calvert finally got the puck past Allen at 6:21 of the third, but the Jackets trailed 3-1 by that point and still faced a steep climb.

"When we play like that [in the second], anything's possible," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. "We're a dangerous team, but we couldn't find a way to get that one early. [Calvert] scores a big one for us, but just too little too late the way the game was going."

Foligno wasn't finished.

"It's just disappointing, because we do have some good minutes, but it gets overshadowed by some of the things that we're not doing right now," he said. "We've got to find a way to shore that up, so we can feel good about our game every time we step on the ice. Right now, we're 50/50."

News & Notes

ATKINSON LEAVES EARLY: Forward Cam Atkinson left the game early with an apparent injury. Tortorella didn't have an update after the game. Atkinson left in the second period, took two shifts in the third and didn't play again.

JUST SHY: The Blue Jackets had won their previous two games, but were unable to tie or set a new franchise record for points after 11 games. They fell one point shy of tying the record (15), which was set in 2007-08 with a 7-3-1 record.

KORPISALO GETS THE CALL: Joonas Korpisalo started in net for Columbus and made 38 saves in his first game since defeating the Jets on Oct. 17 in Winnipeg. After allowing just two goals on 25 shots in the first two periods, Korpisalo allowed two goals on 16 shots in the third, when the Blues got insurance goals from Joel Edmundson and Kyle Brodziak.

"When you start doubting it a little bit, it rolls off him and he plays well," Tortorella said before the game. "I watched him practice the other day. He was terrific in practice, so this is his game."

ANOTHER PERFECT NIGHT FOR THE KILL: One positive takeaway for the Jackets was the ongoing success of their penalty kill, which nixed three more power plays.

The Blue Jackets went 9-for-9 on the PK in their back-to-back games, including 6-for-6 in the win against the Jets on Friday. Columbus has killed 15 straight power plays overall, and is 16-for-16 while shorthanded on home ice to start the season.

Assistant coach Brad Shaw is in charge of coaching the PK units, and Tortorella said he's doing a great job getting them to work cohesively.

"[Shaw] takes care of it, and shows a lot of video with them," Tortorella said. "If there's one thing we do on opposing teams [before games], it's show their special teams and look at their tendencies."

POWER PLAY ISSUES RESURFACE: The flip side of the penalty-kill success is the Jackets' struggle to generate goals and scoring chances when they've got the man-advantage.

They went 0-for-2 on the power play against St. Louis, and 0-for-6 in the back-to-back - after scoring power-play goals in games against the Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres. The Blue Jackets overcame an 0-for-4 performance Friday against Winnipeg, but lost momentum in key situations against the Blues - including an unsuccessful power play after Calvert's goal.

"It was a 3-1 game at the time we get that power play, and who knows, there's lots of time left," captain Nick Foligno said. "We just didn't generate anything off of it. We've got to find a way. It's an adversity we're facing right now, and it's the reality of the game we're playing. There's going to be some tough times. You've got to find a way through."

DUBOIS SETTLING IN: Pierre-Luc Dubois is a couple of games past the deadline for when the Blue Jackets needed to make a decision on whether to send him back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

They decided to burn the first year of his entry-level contract instead, which means he's almost certainly staying put all season, at age 19.

"It's something I don't have to think about anymore," said Dubois, who was taken by Columbus with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. "I wasn't necessarily thinking about it every day, but it's always, kind of, in your mind. Now it just feels good, and I can concentrate on helping the team win."

HE SAID IT: "Everyone has to take it upon themselves to bring that to the team, and that's how we'll have success, because definitely all the answers are in this room." - Jackets captain Nick Foligno.


(All times ET)

Blue Jackets: Host the Boston Bruins on Monday (7 p.m., FS-O, Fox Sports Go, NHL.TV, 97.1 The Fan)

Blues: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Monday (8 p.m., FS-MW, FS-W, NHL.TV)

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