BLUE JACKETS 3 | COYOTES 6
The Blue Jackets led 2-1 midway through the second period of tonight’s game at Gila River Arena, and that was the last time they would hold the lead.
Back-to-back goals from Fedor Tyutin (a slap shot from the left point) and a power play goal from James Wisniewski gave Columbus its first and only lead of the night - and from that point, it was pretty much all Arizona in a 6-3 final.
Sam Gagner scored twice, Martin Hanzal scored a dagger goal late in the second period and Mike Smith, who has struggled mightily all season long, was dented only twice by the Blue Jackets en route to a lopsided win. The Blue Jackets had their four-game road winning streak snapped and lost in regulation for only the second time since Nov. 29, but it was a costly loss as they sought to carry some momentum into the new year.
They never seemed in sync against a Coyotes team that’s gone through it’s share of ups and downs this season but had been playing better at home. Tonight’s win was the fourth straight on home ice for Arizona and they were the better team throughout, controlling the puck, drawing penalties and never allowing the Blue Jackets to establish a rhythm or any sustained presence in the offensive zone.
"Our urgency and desperation wasn't high enough tonight," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "They won battles, we lost battles."
Arizona’s struggling penalty kill shut down the Blue Jackets’ top-ranked power play but for one goal, and the Coyotes power play scored three times in the game against a Columbus penalty kill that’s been rather stingy of late.
Though it would be a tall task in the third period, but the Blue Jackets didn’t go on a 10-1-1 December run by mistake: they’ve shown they can get back in games and chip away at deficits. That was not the case tonight, as the Coyotes scored two third period goals, chasing Sergei Bobrovsky and giving way to Curtis McElhinney with the game seemingly decided.
A late third period goal by Ryan Johansen - his second in as many games, and a great shot from the high slot - made it 6-3.
In a 2-2 game, the Blue Jackets needed to get into the second intermission with the score unchanged, especially with Arizona building momentum and spending a lot of time in the offensive zone. But the game took a significant tilt in the Coyotes’ direction with back-to-back goals late in the second period that turned a tie game into a 4-2 advantage for the home team, leaving a big hill for the Jackets to climb in the third period.
at Colorado Avalanche
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET