Aftermath No. 32: Nashville
This game had an odd feel to it almost from the start.
Needing to play a desperate, all-out kind of game to keep pace in the Western Conference, the Predators and Blue Jackets started out slowly and didn't get a whole lot going in the way of offense until a mega-explosion from Nashville midway through the period. Four goals from the Predators in a span of 3:05 - a new franchise record for them - blew the game open and put the Blue Jackets in a big-time hole.
But to their credit, the Blue Jackets' approach from the past 12 game did not change. They picked themselves up, re-grouped and played a solid game in an effort to make it interesting. A quirky goal from Artem Anisimov late in the second period made it a 4-2 game, and in the process, put the Jackets in a position to stage a third-period comeback. The only thing missing was goal-scoring; the Blue Jackets played their style of hockey in the third period but couldn't get a third or fourth puck behind Pekka Rinne, who rebounded nicely from a lackluster effort last week in Columbus and put the clamps on any notion of a comeback from the visitors tonight.
Todd Richards said post-game that the Predators turned it up a notch midway through the first period and the Blue Jackets did not match their intensity.
"We need everyone on top of their game, and we didn't have everyone tonight," Richards said. "That's what happens when you don't. "(Nashville) wanted it, they wanted the puck more and competed harder than we did. That's the level we have to get to."
Let's call it a night and break this one down, shall we?
1. A RARE OFF NIGHT: Sergei Bobrovsky is owed a year's worth of steak dinners for as well as he's played lately, and single-handedly stole a couple of games during the Blue Jackets' 12-game points streak. He was 8-0-2 in his last 10 appearances entering tonight's game, but he had an off night in this one. Knowing the fierce competitor and tireless worker that Bobrovsky is, he will rebound quickly and be sharp again when he next gets the call between the pipes.
2. UMBERGER LEADS: RJ Umberger played one of his best games of the season tonight, scoring a big goal to trim the Nashville lead to 2-1 and finding a way to be in the right place for scoring chances all night long. He could have had a few goals tonight, but his line with Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno was solid once again after Foligno's two-goal effort Friday night vs. Calgary. Umberger loudly hit the goal post early in the first period, narrowly missing a 1-0 Blue Jackets lead and was a physical force throughout. His play has been excellent in the last month-plus.
3. ON TO THE NEXT ONE: The only thing the Blue Jackets can do now is move on. All is not lost after tonight's game no matter how disappointing the outcome was; with a Dallas win over Colorado, the Blue Jackets will go to bed tonight just one point out of the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference with 16 games to play. The next game is another big test, and it comes Tuesday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The Canucks are always a tough team on home ice and the Blue Jackets have to play the same way they did during their 12-game streak: simple, fast, competitive hockey.