They certainly won't reach for excuses, but the Blue Jackets were up against it tonight and they were in a dogfight with the Winnipeg Jets.
At one point in the second period, Columbus was down to 11 forwards and just four defensemen...and then they had to kill a oenalty after Fedor Tyutin took a high-stick on a follow through attempt. Todd Richards and associate coach Craig Hartsburg employed Jack Johnson, Ryan Murray, David Savard and Nikita Nikitin in rotating pairings to try and keep them fresh, but it was a monumental task to kill the penalty and head to the third period down 1-0.
And that's when things really got interesting.
Winnipeg and Columbus combined for four goals in less than 10 minutes in the third period, and the Blue Jackets found themselves down 3-2 with eight minutes left in regulation. That was following Tyutin's fifth goal of the season to make it 3-2, which was timely even before considering he had just returned to the game after getting his face stitched up. With whatever gas they had left in the tank, the Blue Jackets poured it out down the stretch but could not find the equalizer in a 3-2 final at Nationwide Arena.
Yes, everyone knows the saying about excuses, and neither the players or Richards were willing to pin the loss on injuries or personnel. Their start to the game was not very good and they registered just five shots on goal in the first period and had 11 through 40 minutes, and had a hard time really testing Jets goaltender Al Montoya.
The Blue Jackets pulled within a goal in the third period on a nice play between Matt Calvert and RJ Umberger. Umberger took a touch pass from Calvert behind the net and made a quick stuff move that surprised Montoya, making it a 2-1 game at 8:48 of the period. But less than two minutes later, the Jets cashed in on a 3-on-2 with Evander Kane rifling in the game-winning goal.
1. EVANDER KANE (WPG)
First game back after missing six was an impactful one for Kane, who scored the game-winner and assisted on the Jets' opening goal in the second period.
2. FEDOR TYUTIN (CBJ)
Richards said post-game that Tyutin's chain of events in the second/third periods didn't surprise him, just based on the kind of player Tyutin is. Despite a stick to the face and some stitchwork between periods, Tyutin returned and scored the 3-2 goal in the third period to give the Jackets a chance.
3. MARK SCHEIFELE (WPG)
The first of Kane's two points on the night was a perfect set-up to Scheifele at the back post, and his fourth goal of the season gave Winnipeg a 1-0 lead with about six minutes left in the second period.
AT PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
THURSDAY, 7 P.M.
WELLS FARGO CENTER