WILD (3-2-1) 3, BLUE JACKETS (2-4-1) 2
XCEL ENERGY CENTER | ST. PAUL, MN
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In what has become a trend they want to buck immediately, the Blue Jackets found themselves in a two-goal hole again but scratched and clawed their way back into the hockey game tonight at Xcel Energy Center. Their first period didn't begin poorly and they backed the Minnesota Wild into its own end for the first 10 minutes, but an lucky goal from Mikko Koivu got things going for the home team.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored the winner with 5:19 to play, capping off a frantic third period and sealing a 3-2 win for the Wild. The win snapped Minnesota's three-game losing streak and was another tough defeat for Columbus after rallying to tie the game.
Late in the first period, the one-goal Wild lead became a two-goal lead and the Blue Jackets were in a familiar spot, and not one they want to be in very often. The silver lining (if you can call it that) is they've proven they can come back from deficits and overcome a little adversity tossed their way. Todd Richards would obviously like to see less of his team playing the catch-up game, but if anything, it's good to know they've got that ability.
He was not a happy man after the game, either; the Blue Jackets are falling into poor habits with slow starts and not putting in a full night's work. As a result, they're finding that 30-40 minutes of "their style" of hockey isn't translating to the desired results.
"We played 30 minutes of hockey," Richards said post-game. "In the end, we got what we deserved because we weren't good enough for 60 minutes."
Mark Letestu scored his second goal in three games to cut the lead in half in the second period, and the Blue Jackets got a big break moments later. Nikita Nikitin turned the puck over right to Zach Parise in the slot, and after Steve Masonmade a terrific first save, Parise knocked the rebound in with his glove.
Trailing 2-1 in the third period, the Blue Jackets struggling power play finally sparked to life. Off a Brandon Dubinsky face-off win, Jack Johnson ripped a wrister through traffic and beat Niklas Backstrom to tie the game. Columbus was in good shape and moving along nicely in the few shifts following the goal, but one breakdown on the Bouchard goal was the difference in a third period dominated by the Blue Jackets.
Bouchard's goal was the difference and the deciding factor tonight. The Blue Jackets had a few potential turning points of their own, but with the Wild victory it's got to be the winning tally.
- The power play did finally break through tonight, but there's much work left to do. Their early power play chances were not effective and the Blue Jackets struggled to get shots to the net. Backstrom wasn't particuarly sharp tonight but the Blue Jackets didn't do enough to test him.
- Columbus could be down two defensemen after tonight's game, Richards said. Adrian Aucoin and Nikita Nikitin will be getting looked at upon returning to Columbus after getting banged up in tonight's game.
- Mason was better than he was Saturday, and again, gave the Blue Jackets a chance to win the game. He made 23 saves and did his best work in the second and third periods to keep Columbus within striking distance. He deserves a pair of wins in his last two starts.
- The fourth line was the best trio in the game for Columbus. No disrespect meant to those guys, but the Blue Jackets need a lot more players going at that level if they're going to consistently collect some wins.
vs. St. Louis Blues
Thursday, 7 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 FM & BlueJackets.com