Aftermath No. 11: Calgary
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards was asked whether effort or execution is ailing his club right now, and he needed little time to indict the latter.
Though it wasn't the end-all-be-all moment in this hockey game, you have to look back at the power play opportunity with 1:50 to play in a 3-3 deadlock. It was on a tee for the Blue Jackets: the Flames had put a good press on them in the second period and taken the lead early in the third, but the home side answered and held steady when the game really could have gotten out of hand.
But when they failed to convert, you could just sense the shift in momentum coming. It almost felt inevitable.
Fedor Tyutin crept in from the point to accept a brilliant behind-the-back pass from Artem Anisimov (who looked to be kept under control by two Flames defenders in the corner), but his one-timer missed everything and Calgary rushed back the other way led by captain Jarome Iginla.
A missed chance at one end, and the game winner at the other. That's hockey.
The Blue Jackets have two chances in the next four days to erase the sour taste from tonight's loss: they have back-to-back games at Nationwide Arena against Edmonton (Sunday) and San Jose (Monday) to get on the winning side of a 1-2-1 homestand to this point.
Let's call it a night by breaking down tonight's game:
1. Still searching: The Blue Jackets were happy with how they responded after Calgary took an early lead, but their second period was much like Tuesday against Los Angeles. They were backed up in their own end on what seemed like shift after shift, and it made for a tired bench with the long change in the middle frame. They had trouble exiting the zone, clearing the front of the net and getting through the neutral zone; they were fortunate to enter the third period in a 2-2 tie but penalty killing and goaltending kept them in it.
2. Le-best-u tonight: Mark Letestu was a healthy scratch the first two games of the season, and Richards talked this week about how well he handled the situation. He said Letestu understood the decision and waited patiently for his chance, and if he keeps going the way he is now, it's hard to see a return to the press box anytime soon for No. 10. He centered an energetic line with Vinny Prospal and Matt Calvert and played 16:58. The line was a combined +6 on the night and contributed a total of five points.
3. Nikitin's presence felt: He was a -2 and was on the ice for the game winning goal, but having Nikita Nikitin back in the lineup was noticeable tonight. He logged 27:53 alongside Tyutin and the duo took some major pressure off Jack Johnson, who had played nearly 70 minutes combined in two games against Los Angeles and Detroit. Nikitin fired seven shots on goal (no other player recorded more than four) and didn't miss a beat despite spending a week on injured reserve.