It took the Blue Jackets 54 minutes and change to get going tonight against the Hurricanes, and by that point, it was far too little and far too late.
They were out-shot 18-9 in the opening period by Carolina and registered only three shots in the second period, and the 3-1 hill became a mountain in the third period. The Blue Jackets couldn't sustain much offensively with only 19 total shots on goal in the game, and didn’t make Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward sweat until the latter stages of the third period.
BLUE JACKETS 2 | HURRICANES 4
Carolina led 2-0, scoring two late first period goals that put the Blue Jackets back on their heels, a troubling trend of falling behind and forcing them to play next to a perfect game the rest of the way just to have a chance to come back.
Nick Foligno’s first of two goals on the night made it a 2-1 game with 61 seconds left in the first period, providing a temporary jolt of energy in an otherwise sluggish start. Ryan Johansen, flying down left wing off the rush, fired a shot off Ward’s pads and Foligno cleaned up the rebound.
From that point, the Hurricanes almost put it on cruise control, allowing three shots in the second period and spending little time in their own end. The Blue Jackets weren’t playing their game and were “reactionary” in the words of coach Todd Richards, who was none too pleased with his team’s showing on home ice in a game they needed to win.
“It looked like we were waiting to see which way this game was going to go,” Richards said. “It’s tough to win hockey games when you have four defensemen and five or six forwards going. It’s disappointing on a lot of levels.
“There are some guys that are engaged into the game. Others are not. They’re waiting for something to happen. We were a reactionary team, we reacted (throughout the game). That’s the way we played the game, instead of coming out and playing a proactive game.”
The Blue Jackets (4-8-0) have dropped six straight games and while they’re battling injuries to key players, that doesn't soothe Foligno - who vehemently rejected the notion of injuries playing any role in tonight’s outcome.
“We’re no more injured than any other team in the league right now. We just got two guys (Calvert and Jenner) back,” Foligno said. “I’m so tired of that excuse.”
Next for Columbus is a Friday night date with these same Hurricanes, this time at PNC Arena in Raleigh.
The Blue Jackets got a big chance on the power play with 5:29 gone in the second period, and it was gift-wrapped as the Hurricanes were caught with too many men on the ice. Instead, it was Carolina who got the game’s biggest goal on that man advantage; Justin Faulk pounced on a misplay at the blue line and broke in on Curtis McElhinney, who made the initial save but had the puck bounce up, over his pad and trickle into the net on the rebound. That goal made it 3-1 Carolina and stood up as the game-winner.
1 - Foligno (CBJ)
2 - Nash (CAR)
3 - Faulk (CAR)
at Carolina Hurricanes
Friday, 7 p.m. ET