BLUE JACKETS 2 | DEVILS 3
Aside from the end result, there was a lot to like about the Blue Jackets’ game tonight at Prudential Center.
On the second night of a back-to-back and missing another player (Corey Tropp, illness), Columbus shook things up even further and injected some new faces into the lineup hoping to break out of a four-game losing skid. Brian Gibbons made his Blue Jackets debut, Cody Goloubef drew in on the blue line and Anton Forsberg made his NHL debut between the pipes.
For much of the game, the Blue Jackets were the better team and had plenty of opportunities to lock up a better outcome than what they left New Jersey with. They led 1-0 early and 2-1 after two periods but couldn't hold that lead in the third period.
Two quick goals from the Devils - Adam Henrique (PPG) and Adam Larsson’s first goal since Nov. 16, 2013 - brought New Jersey back from a one-goal deficit and gave them a lead they would not relinquish. Despite several chances late in regulation, the Blue Jackets couldn't get a third puck past Cory Schneider and fell 3-2 in the first of a four-game season series between the two teams.
"We didn't finish the game," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "This one leaves a sour taste in your mouth."
The Blue Jackets have dropped five straight games and are struggling to score, and they wanted to start fast in this game and get the Devils back on their heels.
Jack Skille converted a great pass from Gibbons early in the first period to give the Jackets a 1-0 lead, and it stood until a Marek Zidlicky power play goal in the second period.
Nick Foligno’s second period power play goal restored the lead for Columbus and things looked to be in better shape entering the third period. But two mistakes cost the Blue Jackets and spoiled what had otherwise been a solid game.
A lengthy scramble at the side of the Blue Jackets’ net resulted in the tying goal for Henrique, and though it appeared Forsberg had it covered, referee Dan O’Rourke was in position to see the puck loose and allowed play to continue.
Less than two minutes later, the Jackets were unable to get the puck out of their own end, and Larsson cranked a slap shot through traffic that fooled Forsberg and gave the Devils their first and only lead of the game.
“We worked hard all game, but you have to do more than working hard to win hockey games,” Ryan Johansen said. “This one doesn’t feel good.”
The Larsson goal was a big one and not only because it was the game-deciding tally. The Devils got a lot of momentum from the Henrique goal and there was renewed line in what was an otherwise-quiet building. Larsson’s slapper through heavy traffic tilted the ice in New Jersey’s favor and that was all they needed tonight.
1 - Larsson (NJ)
2 - Zidlicky (NJ)
3 - Foligno (CBJ)
vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET