When RJ Umberger slammed a loose puck through the legs of Senators goalie Robin Lehner 3:02 into the third period, it felt as if the Blue Jackets were on the rallying path.
The building was back into the game, the bench was energized and after finally breaking through on their 28th shot of the evening the Blue Jackets had something to build on. But they stalled after the Umberger goal and gave up a dagger to Chris Neil with 6:05 to play that made it a 3-1 game and a steeper hill to climb. That's where things stood after the final whistle, a fourth consecutive loss for the Jackets and a third straight on home ice.
For a team seeking a fast start in order to snap its losing skid, the Blue Jackets were out to a great start but their goal-scoring woes reached another level. They threw the kitchen sink at Lehner in the first period with 13 shots and plenty of pressure, but came out on the losing end of a 2-0 score after 20 minutes.
Two mistakes wound up in their net: a misplay in the neutral zone allowed Erik Karlsson to walk in and beat Curtis McElhinney with a laser-like wrister at 14:51 of the period, and with 3.9 seconds left in the frame, Clarke MacArthur notched what stood up as the game-winner.
An ill-timed pinch at the offensive blueline allowed the Senators to make a quick play up-ice, and after their first chance off the rush was blocked, Bobby Ryan picked up the loose puck and spotted MacArthur un-checked on the door step. The ensuing bang-bang play was the biggest goal of the game and it put the Jackets even further behind the 8-ball going into the intermission.
MacArthur's goal was timely and back-breaking. The Blue Jackets could have managed a 1-0 lead headed to the second period but a two-goal deficit - especially for a team that's struggling to score - was a big blow. Credit to the Blue Jackets for continuing to play their game, get pucks deep and create chances, but it was one goal too many for them tonight.
1. ROBIN LEHNER (OTT)
In the absence of Craig Anderson, the 6-foot-4 Swede put forth a strong effort in goal when his team needed it most. Lehner finished the game with 32 saves - including a handful of "did he really?" moments in the first period - and was solved only once.
2. ERIK KARLSSON (OTT)
Quite the performance tonight from one of the premier players in the NHL - he scored a beautiful goal in the first period, added an empty netter in the final minute, logged 26:16 to lead all players and fired a game-high seven shots on goal.
3. RJ UMBERGER (CBJ)
Umberger skated well and added a physical element tonight on a line (with Johansen and Atkinson) that was the Jackets' most effective in the offensive zone. His second goal of the season gave the Jackets new life, and he was a net-front presence for them throughout the game.
WHAT'S ON TAP?
vs. NEW YORK RANGERS
THURSDAY, 7 P.M.