For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets’ power play sputtered when it was needed most.
On Tuesday night, it was a failed five-minute man advantage in Montreal and they managed only two shots on goal. Tonight against the Florida Panthers, they had not one but two power play opportunities in the final six minutes of regulation – and they ended up losing the game.
Aleksander Barkov scored the game-winning goal in the fourth round of the shootout, giving the Panthers a 2-1 win and a 5-0 record on their road trip.
With regulation time ticking away, the Blue Jackets were handed a glorious chance to make a dent in the game and shrug their two-game skid. Brandon Pirri was guilty of an offensive-zone high sticking penalty at 14:04, and then at 15:59, Willie Mitchell sent Nick Foligno flying into the corner boards to earn himself a cross-checking penalty.
Given six seconds of 5-on-3 time and then a subsequent 5-on-4 for nearly two minutes, the Blue Jackets simply came up empty.
“It’s very disappointing how we played this game,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “(The power play) wasn’t good. We need some players to make some plays. I don’t even think there were many real solid scoring chances. We were way too deliberate.
“We’re slowing it down. We’re trying to make one play instead of letting the puck work, and it cost us. That game should be over when we have those opportunities.”
Goaltending was a big story on both sides; Sergei Bobrovsky was called upon early and often as the Blue Jackets came sluggishly out of the gate, turning pucks over and giving the Panthers life on the second night of a back-to-back. He made 15 saves in the first period (31 total) and certainly did his job, while his counterpart at the other end did the same.
Al Montoya gave Roberto Luongo the night off and all he did was make 22 saves in regulation and overtime, then turn aside three shooters in the shootout to pick up the extra point.
He didn’t have to do much in the first period thanks to Florida’s solid start, but the Blue Jackets did some better work in the second period after Michael Chaput (in his season debut) went to the net and redirected a pass from Andrew Bodnarchuk to draw Columbus even at 12:49.
After the Chaput goal, the Blue Jackets seemed to find a spark and they sustained offensive zone time and threatened on several occasions. They couldn’t beat Montoya and the Panthers managed to hang around, then survived the final minutes of regulation to get into overtime.
“We didn’t play good enough tonight to get two points,” center Brandon Dubinsky said. “We had an opportunity to get two points, but we didn’t start the game on time. In the third, we had two power plays late in the game. We have to find a way to capitalize.
“It just wasn’t good enough from the start and that put us in a little bit of a hole, and we’ve got to be better tomorrow night.”