For the Columbus fans that stayed up for this one, they were treated to an ugly, sloppy affair that saw none of the intensity that the Jackets showed in their first two games. The Jackets were undisciplined, and had no transition game to speak of.
The Jackets' first trip out West this season featured a handful of lineup changes. Steve Mason made his first start of the year, Mark Letestu entered the lineup in favor of Derek MacKenzie, and Cam Atkinson moved to the Artem Anisimov/Brandon Dubinsky line, with Derek Dorsett joining R.J. Umberger and Derick Brassard.
The early moments of the game saw both squads trade scoring chances. Each team was guilty of turning the puck over, before settling in. Mason made his first big glove save four minutes in-he's a goaltender that needs to get lots of touches on the puck before he gets "in the zone".
At 7:04, the Jackets went on the powerplay after the Coyotes were assessed a bench minor for too many men on the ice. The first unit was able to set up in the Phoenix zone, showcasing some crisp passing. The second unit was not able to establish a pattern, scrambling for the remainder of the penalty.
Midway through the period, during a TV timeout, the Coyotes made a goaltending change with Jason LaBarbera replacing Mike Smith. The Coyotes later would announce that Smith was done for the game with the dreaded lower-body injury.
For a majority of the first 20 minutes, the Jackets struggled to get their feet under them. This was not unsurprising, given the fact this was the first major time zone change of the season.
Late in the period, Umberger was whistled for holding. The Columbus penalty kill, led up front by the duo of Dubinsky and Anisimov, held the Coyotes off the scoresheet.
End of 1st Period - Blue Jackets 0, Coyotes 0
The Jackets opened the period on the kill, but were able to prevent the Coyotes from potting one. Again, Dubinsky and Anisimov were excellent on the PK.
The first great scoring chance of the game came about four minutes into the period, when Dubinsky received the puck in the neutral zone at speed, carried the puck up-ice, and feathered a pass cross-ice to Atkinson. Cam got a shot on-net, but wasn't able to bury it.
At 5:30, the Jackets opened the scoring. Brassard carried the puck out from the corner, feeding Fedor Tyutin at the point. Tyutin blasted the puck on-net, past LaBarbera.
1-0 Jackets: Fedor Tyutin (1) - Derick Brassard (2), Derek Dorsett (2)
Minutes later, Tyutin failed to clear the puck from the defensive zone, and after a scramble in front of Mason, Steve Sullivan hacked at the puck, flipping it past the goaltender to tie the score.
Mason was tested by Mikkel Boedker shortly after play resumed, but Mason stood tall. His composure after letting in his first goal is vastly improved over recent years. He doesn't look completely defeated after getting beaten. This bodes very well for the Jackets going forward.
The intensity ramped up for both teams after the exchange of goals. Nick Foligno was all over the ice making plays- setting up linemates for chances, breaking up plays in the defensive zone, he was doing it all.
The Anisimov-Dubinsky duo (needs a name) was back at it again with about seven minutes to go in the period. Anisimov shredded the Phoenix defense, and Dubinsky was there to jam the puck on net. It took a few games, but Dubinsky's offensive game was finally showcased.
With 4:38 left, Oliver Ekman-Larsson wired the puck on-net, beating Mason to give the Coyotes the lead. Radim Vrbata flipped a pass to just in front of the hashmarks, the puck skipped, ending up on OEL's stick.
2-1 Coyotes: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (1) - Matthew Lombardi (2), Radim Vrbata (2)
End of 2nd Period - Coyotes 2, Blue Jackets 1
The Jackets again opened the period on the penalty kill. Like the beginning of the second period, the Coyotes were unsuccessful in adding to their goal total thanks to a strong Columbus PK.
At the 3:20 mark the Jackets pulled off the double d'oh when Brassard and Dorsett were each sent off for tripping. On the delayed Brassard penalty, Dorsett tripped up a Coyote. Once Phoenix got possession the two players went to the box, putting the home team on a five-on-three.
It only took a short time for the Coyotes to score, going up 3-1 on Steve Sullivan's second of the game.
3-1 Coyotes: Steve Sullivan (2) - Mikkel Boedker (3), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (1)
With 12:18 left the Jackets went on the powerplay, after Mason was interfered with. Wisniewski and Jack Johnson peppered LaBarbera with endless bombs from the points, but couldn't tickle the twine.
Soon after the powerplay completed, noted Jacket-killer Steve Sullivan completed the hat trick. After former Jacket Antoine Vermette won the faceoff, the puck made its way to Sullivan's stick for the easy goal.
4-1 Coyotes: Steve Sullivan (3) - Derek Morris (2), Antoine Vermette (2)
With 8:22 remaining, Ekman-Larsson and Dorsett were handed matching minors for roughing, after getting into a dustup behind the Phoenix net. While four-on-four, Johnson was called for a mystery slash. The Coyotes weren't able to pad their lead, however.
It didn't matter that the penalties expired, because moments later, Ekman-Larsson snuck in from the point and wristed the puck past Mason for his second goal of the game.
The Jackets were given a powerplay with slightly more than two minutes left in the game. They applied a ton of pressure, but LaBarbera was up to the task.
Final Score - 5-1 Coyotes
Steve Sullivan - A hattie is a hattie.
Brandon Dubinsky - He started to show more of his offensive ability this game. He was good on the PK as well.
Bottom of the Barrel
Discipline - The Jackets took some boneheaded penalties tonight. It wasn't the whole story, but it certainly was a big part of the loss.
R.J. Umberger - All points bulletin- where's Umby?
The Transition Game - The Jackets attempted far too many long-distance passes, and had a hell of a time breaking out from the defensive zone.
The Jackets are back in action tomorrow night in Denver, where they'll face the Avalanche.