Tonight’s game in one word: frustrating.
It’s a feeling that has lingered for a while and one the Blue Jackets would like desperately to send out to sea. Take this game against the Tampa Bay Lightning for example: the game never really got away from them, but despite numerous chances, they couldn’t capitalize and take hold of it.
There were at least four partial breakaways that went for naught, rebound chances that just missed wide, pucks that bounced over their sticks at the moment of truth, and one that sat agonizingly on the goal line before play was whistled dead.
At the other end, Joonas Korpisalo pulled his weight in his NHL debut, making 27 saves while keeping a cool head between the pipes. It was, as stated earlier, part of the frustration and disappointment in a 2-1 loss to the Lightning, who won for the fourth time in six games and bounced back from a loss to Washington on Saturday.
“I thought (Korpisalo) played really well,” coach John Tortorella said. “Really encouraging. For a young kid coming in, it’s really encouraging.”
“We battled back, and again, we just couldn’t finish,” Tortorella added. “You saw it: the one on the goal line, a couple shots blocked, a couple shot wide, and they were good chances. That’s the way it is right now. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves; we wake up tomorrow, it’s another day and we’ll keep trying to get better.”
They say hockey is a game of mistakes, and the Blue Jackets made a couple that put them into “chasing” mode, as Tortorella deemed it.
Just past the midway mark of the second period, Alexander Wennberg tried an exit pass from the corner that was picked off by Jonathan Marchessault (remember him?), and all he had to do was fire a one-timer from the right circle past Korpisalo for a 1-0 Tampa lead.
And though the Lightning got a big lift from the goal, the Blue Jackets hung in there and tied the game before the second period buzzer.
Matt Calvert, who’s playing some terrific hockey, hunted a puck below the goal line, won a battle and fed Brandon Dubinsky on the door step. One dangle and backhand finish later, Dubinsky had his fifth goal of the season with 3:14 left in the middle frame.
The second mistake was on a Blue Jackets power play in the third period. Wennberg, at the right point, was fooled by a bouncing puck and it gave the Lightning a 2-on-1 rush the other way. Brian Boyle made certain to bury the pass across from Alex Killorn, giving the Lightning a 2-1 lead at 6:13 of the third.
Chances were plentiful down the stretch. Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Brandon Saad and others had grade-A looks in and around the Lightning net, but Bishop held the fort.
“You want them to have a good feeling,” Tortorella said. “You want them to be able to feel good about the result and we haven’t been able to. We’ve lost some closely-fought games. We find another way here to put ourselves chasing the game in the third period.
“There’s no sense in being negative about it, there’s no sense in beating up the team. There were some good things done tonight. We just have to try and get better, try to handle those situations better.”