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Tortorella loses debut with Blue Jackets to Wild

by Dan Myers / NHL.com

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- John Tortorella lost his first game as Columbus Blue Jackets coach, and they lost their eighth in a row to start the season, 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday.

Columbus (0-8-0) led 2-1 after one period and played perhaps its best game so far, but now has the second-longest losing streak to start an NHL season (the 1943-44 New York Rangers lost 11 in a row).

"There was 11 or 12 minutes in the second period where I thought we lost momentum, but I thought we played hard," said Tortorella, who was hired Wednesday to replace Todd Richards.

"That's a team that defends well. You have to get through a number of layers just to try to get pucks to the net. But there was a lot of good things that went on with our club here.

"But we're 0-8. Moral victories are not going to help us right now."

Minnesota (4-1-1) expected an early push from Columbus, the only NHL team without a point.

"That was all the talk before the game: new coach, you knew they were going to be coming hard, 'We gotta weather the storm,'" Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said. "You worry about that too much instead of going out and taking it to them."

The Wild scored first when Suter, pinching in the left corner, centered a pass to Zach Parise on the back door. The puck deflected off Parise's leg past Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky at 5:04 of the first period. The goal was Parise's sixth, tied for first in the NHL with Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars.

Bobrovsky, who is 0-6-0, made 20 saves. He had a 5.07 goals-against average and .835 save percentage in five starts and admitted he felt responsibility for Richards getting fired.

"I felt pretty good, felt pretty confident out there," Bobrovsky said. "I thought guys worked really hard and they played hard. Unfortunately, we didn't get two points, but we're going to keep working. We'll get there."

Bobrovsky was especially good late in the second period, making point-blank saves on Thomas Vanek and Charlie Coyle to keep Columbus within a goal.

"He made some saves," Tortorella said. "I don't think either goalie was really [tested], they both made a couple great leg saves. It wasn't a game with a lot of scoring chances, but [Bobrovsky] played well."

Columbus tied the game at 1-1 when Alexander Wennberg gathered a rebound of a Cody Goloubef shot near the left faceoff dot and beat Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk at 10:16 of the first period.

The Blue Jackets took the lead on a power-play goal by Brandon Dubinsky with 20.2 seconds remaining. After a failed clearing attempt by Minnesota defenseman Marco Scandella, Dubinsky beat Scandella to the right post and scored with a tip-in.

"We talked so much about how they were going to come out and how they were going to play," Parise said. "I don't know if we psyched ourselves out or what, but it was a pretty ugly start for us. But we were able to turn the page in the second period."

Nino Niederreiter's rebound goal at 5:41 of the second pulled the Wild even at 2-2 before a redirection by Vanek from a bad angle gave Minnesota a 3-2 lead at 11:12.

Vanek's goal came on a power play after Goloubef was given a hooking and a holding minor for a four-minute advantage. The goal was Minnesota's fifth on the power play but first by their second unit.

"Thomas is so dangerous in that area," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "That second unit definitely has the ability make some plays and create some goals."

Mikko Koivu assisted on Niederreiter's goal and has a point in five of six games, including four straight. Dubnyk made 27 saves.

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