Despite out-shooting the Vancouver Canucks 45-30 and controlling long stretches of the game, the Blue Jackets were unable to secure their first win on home ice at Nationwide Arena.
Boone Jenner opened the scoring early into the first period, but in what became a back-and-forth Tuesday night matchup, Columbus was unable to hold onto its lead and the Canucks, with three third-period goals, emerged with a 5-3 road win.
And it was the nature of the goals - uncontested or born from defensive breakdowns - that troubled Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella.
Deadlocked at 2-2 after 40 minutes, the Blue Jackets had a 33-20 shot advantage over the Canucks but came up empty in a dominant second period. In the third period, they capitalized on a Vancouver mistake and got a go-ahead goal from Cam Atkinson of the shorthanded variety with 11:59 to play.
Their response was equally concerning; the Canucks scored two goals less than five minutes apart to regain the lead, and Henrik Sedin iced it with an empty-net goal at 18:21.
“I thought we were playing very well,” Tortorella said. “We have two power play goals (in the first period), we score a shorthanded goal to go up 3-2, we're working, forechecking, creating chance after chance but we just find a way to lose.
"Their goals…they were just freebies. We had to work so hard to gain the lead back at 3-2, and we just gave them freebies.”
The Blue Jackets, determined to have a better start to this game, got what they were looking for and took an early 1-0 lead.
Vancouver was handed a minor penalty for having too many men on the ice 6:28 into the first. Seven seconds later, Jenner put the Jackets on the board with a quick wrister that found the net over Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
The goal was Jenner’s eighth of the season (second on the power play), and both Scott Hartnell and Ryan Johansen picked up assists.
After the Jackets successfully killed a Johansen roughing penalty minutes later, it seemed that the momentum was heavily swinging the Jackets’ way.
But the Columbus lead didn’t last long.
Jannik Hansen, sitting unmarked in front, evened the score at 10:19 with his fourth goal of the season. The Canucks added on at 17:12 with a Daniel Sedin goal giving the visiting team a 2-1 lead with minutes to go in the first period.
With the Jackets back on the power play in the last seconds of the first period, they capitalized when Jenner, on the back side, fed the puck to a patiently-waiting Jack Johnson who buried it and evened the score.
The score stayed the same in the second period, and Bobrovsky helped keep the Jackets at an even 2-2 game.
“We did a lot of good things, but, at the end of the day, we did a lot of poor things that led to their goals and ultimately they won the game,” Atkinson said. “We just gotta find a way to win, plain and simple.”
Henrik tied the game, 3-3, with a tip-in goal past Bobrovsky at 10:05 with help from Hansen and Daniel Sedin. Sutter broke past Ryan Murray and added to the score at 14:52, with Hansen collecting his third assist of the game, giving the Canucks the lead for good.
“When we go up 3-2, and in control, and momentum’s on our side and the way we reacted...I just can’t explain it," Tortorella said. "And I don’t think we have a mindset of trying to lose the game, but that is a game we have to learn from. We have to win that game, and right now, we found a way to lose that game. In the situation we’re in, that’s not a good sign."