The Blue Jackets were hoping to right the ship after back-to-back losses over the weekend, but this one’s going to sting for a while.
BLUE JACKETS 2 | CANADIENS 3
Leading 2-0 in the third period against an opponent that was up to the task tonight, the Blue Jackets did the one thing they could ill afford to do: give the Montreal Canadiens unnecessary power play chances and opportunities to get back in the game. Unfortunately, they did, and the third period went from decent shape to completely unraveled in less than four minutes.
Goals from Kevin Connauton (3:31 into the first period) and Ryan Johansen (9:38 of the third) staked Columbus to a 2-0 lead, and despite their goaltender coming under fire for long stretches, they managed to hold that lead until nearly 12 minutes had gone by in the final frame.
No sooner had the Blue Jackets taken a 2-0 lead on Johansen’s beautiful shot top shelf on Carey Price were they right back to the penalty box. Matt Calvert got tangled up with PK Subban low in the Montreal zone, getting his stick free just in time to saw Subban’s stick in half for an ill-timed slashing penalty at 10:51.
A couple of failed clearing attempts by the Blue Jackets led to Max Pacioretty turning and scoring from the high slot, cutting the deficit to 2-1 with a much-needed response goal. Less than two minutes later, the Montreal power play would get another chance.
Jared Boll was tagged with an offensive zone high-sticking penalty at 12:27, and late in the power play, Subban ripped a one-timer past Bobrovsky to tie the game 2-2 - but the Canadiens weren’t done.
Brandon Dubinsky took a boarding penalty with 4:59 to play, sending Montreal to its seventh power play of the game. And 22 seconds later, the Canadiens completed the comeback.
Tomas Plekanec slung a centering pass toward the net from the right wing boards, and Pacioretty was in perfect position to re-direct the game-winning goal over Bobrovsky’s shoulder with 4:37 to go. In a span of 3:53, the Blue Jackets went from a two-goal cushion to suddenly having to re-group, get back to their game and score another goal to secure at least one point.
They couldn’t get Bobrovsky to the bench until the final minute of regulation, and when they did, there were no legitimate threats with the extra attacker. It was perhaps their most disappointing loss of the season, and one that makes their quest to get back in the playoff race even more daunting.
“It’s just really disappointing,” said Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards. “This one bothers me…the way that we found a way to lose this game.”
After taking a 2-0 lead on Johansen’s 16th goal of the season, the Blue Jackets needed a better response than they put forth. They took a minor penalty on the next shift, and less than a minute later, Pacioretty scored to get the Canadiens back in the game. It snowballed in the wrong way for Columbus after that, taking two more undisciplined penalties and allowing two more power plays that helped Montreal completely turn the game around.
vs. New York Rangers
Friday, 7 p.m. ET