The good times had to come to an end at some point, but the thud with which the Blue Jackets landed Tuesday had to be a surprise to everyone involved.
The team's five-game winning streak came to a screeching halt in the home finale, with Boston coming into Nationwide Arena, opening up a 4-0 lead and the finishing off the 6-2 triumph in front of a sellout crowd.
Pretty much everyone interviewed had a succinct wrap-up of the setback.
Video: Torts says Boston was better
"We weren't as good as them," head coach John Tortorella said.
"We got it fed to us," captain Nick Foligno added.
"They played a lot better than us," Cam Atkinson said.
It was an unfortunate result on a night where, elsewhere, things went against the Jackets as well. Carolina and Montreal also won, so the Hurricanes hopped the Blue Jackets for the first wild card spot by a point. The Canadiens pulled even with Columbus, though the Jackets own the tiebreaker, and the last two playoff spots in the East will come down to the last two games of the season. And ahead of Columbus, Pittsburgh lost, so the Jackets couldn't take advantage of an opportunity to move within a point of the Pens.
Here are three observations from the loss.
1. A fluky first: There were 58 minutes to play after it happened, but Columbus had about the worst, unluckiest start possible.
David Savard got his stick on a shot by Boston's Jake DeBrusk, which should have ended the immediate scoring threat. Instead, the puck fluttered into the air toward the net, and Sergei Bobrovsky did the right thing -- back up against the crossbar so the puck couldn't go off his back and into the net.
Then came another unlikely bounce. From there, the puck landed on the back bar of the top of the net and bounded right back toward Bobrovsky. As Bobrovsky relaxed a bit off the bar -- the puck should have landed somewhere by then, after all, and he needed to be ready to get his pads on the ice if the Bruins were trying to jam it home -- the puck landed on his shoulder, crawled down his arm and landed in the net.
It was, in a word, a brutal start, especially when the puck gods were clearly on the other side again less than a minute later when Josh Anderson's 2-on-1 chance hit the crossbar.
"That's a weird goal, but you just have to move past it," Foligno said before suggesting the Jackets then got away from their game in an attempt to get the goal back. "I felt like we opened ourselves up too early. We didn't need to do that."
Columbus also gave up some weird ones later, as well. The third goal was the result of a miscommunication between Seth Jones and Zach Werenski in front of Bobrovsky, and even the sixth goal after Columbus had built some momentum saw goalie Joonas Korpisalo and the defenders in front of him cross each other up, leading to an easy tap-in.
"First and third goals were kind of funny goals," Tortorella said. "Yeah, they are crazy goals, but we got what we deserved tonight."
2. Checked up: Over the past five games, Columbus had played swarming hockey, moving in groups of five, as Tortorella said before the game.
That was true in both the offensive and defensive zones. Offensively, the Jackets had great puck support and were able to feed off of that to create chances. Defensively, they had been defending as a team, not allowing players open ice and always getting a stick in to take away scoring chances.
That's essentially what Boston did to the Jackets, preventing Columbus from getting time and space to do anything creative offensively for large stretches of the game. On the other end, the Bruins were like bumblebees on the puck, always buzzing and always having support once they got the puck.
It was a flipping of the script Foligno noticed.
"I think that's a good lesson for us," he said. "That's playoff hockey. This is what wins this time of year, and the team that does it better than the other one is going to win. They didn't do anything special offense-wise, it was just checking better, which led to offense."
3. Moving on: Based on the uniform answers given by players and coaches alike after the game, the team message after the game was to get this game out of their system as quickly as possible.
"We've already moved by it," Tortorella said. "We are going to move by it and get ready for our next game."
It's been the same reaction all year whenever the Blue Jackets have had anything close to a clunker, and that has served the team well for most of the season.
Plus, Columbus still controls its own destiny in the race for a playoff bid. While Montreal drew even, the Jackets have the tiebreaker, and wins at the New York Rangers and Ottawa on Friday and Saturday will punch the team's return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In other words, Columbus still has it all the play for in the last two games.
"This isn't anywhere near over," Foligno said. "Obviously a disappointment we couldn't take advantage of a game tonight we felt we should have done better in, but we're not going to dwell on it. We're going to get ready for our next one. That's how you have to face it this time of year."