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Jets hand Blue Jackets another home loss

by Craig Merz / NHL.com

COLUMBUS -- The last time the Columbus Blue Jackets played at home, they trailed by a goal in the third period, failed to score on three successive power plays, and lost by four.

Coach Todd Richards was fired the next day.

His replacement, John Tortorella, in his Nationwide Arena debut, could not change that luck in a 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

Winnipeg led 3-1 midway through the third period by surviving a double-minor for high-sticking to defenseman Mark Stuart. The Blue Jackets got one shot on goal during the power play.

"We have to simplify the game and come back to the basics," Columbus defenseman David Savard. "Play the same way on the power play we do 5-on-5 and shoot pucks and hopefully get rebounds."

Columbus (2-10-0) won two of four on the road since Tortorella took over Oct. 21 but has lost all five games at home this season.

"It's not through a lack of caring," Tortorella said. "It's confidence. You see the difference. You see Winnipeg. They're full of confidence right now, just working the puck out of their zone. At times I thought we had chances to make plays, but we weren't able to."

Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little each had a goal and an assist, and Ondrej Pavelec made 19 saves for the Jets (7-3-1), who started a four-game road trip that continues Sunday at the Montreal Canadiens.

Little's fifth and Andrew Copp's first of his NHL career gave the Jets a 2-0 lead in the first period before Brandon Saad scored for Columbus at 10:32. Wheeler completed the first-period scoring with a power-play goal at 16:59.

"We've been talking about getting off to good start and I thought we had one tonight," Copp said. "We played with a lot of confidence."

The Jets scored first for the third time in 11 games and then scored 53 seconds later.

Wheeler took advantage of a Columbus line change to hit Little with a stretch pass. Little's slap shot from the top of the right circle whizzed over the blocker of Sergei Bobrovsky 5:52 into the period.

Copp, a former Michigan player in his 12th NHL game, scored at 6:45 with the help of a fortuitous bounce of the puck off the end boards that put it on his stick near the right post.

Copp's family and friends made the nearly three-hour drive from his home in Ann Arbor, Mich.

"It's been a little bit of a long time coming but it's a great place for me to do it," he said. "My parents and grandparents are here and I've got a couple of buddies down here. It's a pretty good feeling."

There was another reason the goal was special.

"Being a Michigan alum, it's a little bit sweeter in Ohio State territory," he said.

The Blue Jackets made it 2-1 on Saad's fourth goal that came two seconds after a power play expired. The forward missed a 3-1 loss at the Washington Capitals on Friday because of illness.

Columbus did not score again until there was 1:14 left in regulation, Scott Hartnell's fourth of the season with an extra attacker on the ice.

"We're doing a lot of good things defensively," Columbus captain Nick Foligno said. "Now the offense needs to take over. We need to generate some offense. One goal isn't going to win games.

"I think we've simplified our offense enough to play right defensively. Now it's about making the right plays offensively to get some goals."

Columbus starts a three-game California road trip on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.

Wheeler made it 3-1 with his sixth goal of the season from the left circle with low drive that hit the right post on the way in.

"That was one of the better power-play chances we've had this year," Little said. "We moved the puck around and had several chances before the goal. Thank God for that. If you weren't into the game, you were after that."

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