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Jackets regroup, refocus for Monday clash in Buffalo

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The bad news: through two games, the Blue Jackets have given up nine goals and haven’t won either contest.

The better news: what’s ailed them is largely self-inflicted, and within the room, they believe that their mistakes are fixable and they can quickly get back on track.

On opening night at Nationwide Arena, the Blue Jackets gave up the first goal (a backhander by Mats Zuccarello in the final minute of the first period) and had a late lead thanks to Brandon Saad’s power play goal.

They then yielded three goals in the final 2:36 of regulation with all three tallies coming in a span of 1:17, and the same issues that plagued them on Friday lingered into Saturday.

Yes, it was the Rangers’ home opener at Madison Square Garden and they came out flying, but the Blue Jackets did themselves no favors by constantly turning the puck over. Not only did they turn it over, but they did so in high-danger areas that led to either odd-man rushes or point-blank scoring opportunities.

It took 5:48 into Saturday’s game for Columbus to trail 3-0. They cleaned it up after that, scoring a pair of goals in the third period and controlling the game at 5-on-5, but the meat of the game isn’t the concern – it’s the book end nightmares that had them staring at a winless opening weekend.

Put another way: in 120 minutes of hockey so far in 2015-16, the Blue Jackets have had a lead for only 74 seconds.

“We have to be better, a little more mentally tough in that regard,” captain Nick Foligno said.

If there’s a silver lining to this busy stretch to begin the season, it’s that the Blue Jackets have another short turnaround before getting another opportunity to bounce back.

This afternoon, they take on a Sabres team in a similar situation (0-2-0 to start) but one that has also been dealt a tough hand; Buffalo lost No. 1 goaltender Robin Lehner – one of its key offseason pickups – to an ankle injury in its season opener and will be without him for at least a month.

All they can control is how they play, and the Blue Jackets believe they can repair many of the issues that doomed them against the Rangers.

“We’re a young team and we have a small margin for error now because we know how we have to play to win,” Foligno said. “(Saturday), we didn’t do that for the early part, and you saw in the second period, we started getting going and in the third period we started taking over.

“We’re working the right way, we just have to work a little smarter.”

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