The Columbus Blue Jackets dropped another game in front of a less-than-stellar crowd of 9,892. The Nashville Predators prevailed in the shootout, winning by the final score of 4-3. This was the first shootout loss this season for Columbus.
Columbus head coach Scott Arniel summed up this loss in one sentence: “That one shouldn’t have happened.”
The first period showed that the Blue Jackets can play a puck-possession game, as they virtualy dominated the pace for the majority of the period. Seldom was Nashville able to mount a sustained attack in the Columbus zone.
That all came to an end at the 17:02 mark, as Predator Colin Wilson banged the puck past Steve Mason off a sweet feed from behind the net by Cal O’Reilly. The Blue Jackets had two defenders on either side of the net but were hesitant to jump behind to break up the play. The period would end with Nashville leading 1-0.
The play of the Blue Jackets seemed to fall off as the game progressed, becoming sloppier with passes to no one in particular. Antoine Vermette would slap home a rebound off of Pekka Rinne at the 7:11 mark of the second period from a shot by Jan Hejda to even the score at 2-2.
It was a game of missed opportunities for the Blue Jackets. Taking nothing away from Rinne in goal for Nashville, but Columbus missed a few open nets. They also had problems clearing the zone as the game wore on.
“I’m not really satisfied with not winning the game,” Arniel said. “We were down and then we got the lead, and we had opportunities to get those pucks out (of the zone) on the third goal.”
But the fact remains that they didn’t manage to do just that.
Nashvlle’s Sergei Kostitsyn would get the Predators second goal late in the second period with a nice feed from Martin Erat.
Three goals were scored in the third period between both teams, all coming in the first 11:38 of the period. Kris Russell would tie the game while Antoine Vermette would grab his second of the night to give Columbus a short-lived lead. Kevin Klein scored for Nashville just 1:37 later to tie the game 3-3. A scoreless overtime period would follow.
The shootout was all Nashville as Steve Sullivan got one past Mason while Jake Voracek, Rick Nash and Vermette were unable to solve Pekka Rinne one-on-one. The head Predator, Barry Trotz, had this to say about the game: “Our team battled and fought back and got the point and obviously two points. We showed a lot of character coming back in the third.”
The most glaring thing missing from the boys in Union Blue was the physical play they exhibited against a much better Detroit team over the weekend. In those games (both losses), they showed every Detroit player that there was a price to be paid when coming down the ice. Not so with Nashville. Columbus looked, at times, to be tentative and finished few checks. That type of play will drop a team out of the running very fast in the ultra-tight Western Conference.
The Blue Jackets have two winnable games this weekend against Buffalo and Pittsburgh. It’s time for Scott Arniel to light the fire of desire under some players’ seats. But, then again, he’s shown that he’s not afraid to scratch someone who’s not playing up to snuff. The team has depth, and the players have to be looking over their shoulders at all times. The game Friday versus Buffalo might see a little shake-up amongst the guys. You never know.
All images Danielle Browne/THW