Every time the Blue Jackets seem to be on the verge of reversing their horrible 0-8 start, they take another step back. The trend continued Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena as Columbus hosted the Los Angeles Kings.
After putting together a dominating performance on Saturday against the Flyers, the Jackets looked to continue their winning ways against one of the hottest teams in the league. For 55 minutes, the CBJ looked like they were going to steal a win in improbable fashion. Then...Sergei Bobrovsky left the ice and it seemed like the writing was on the wall.
The first period did not feature a lot of scoring chances for either team. The Kings led on the shot chart 7-5 and Bobrovsky looked solid in net as he has been for quite some time. Halfway through the first, Gregory Cambpell took exception to a hit on Brandon Saad by Christian Ehrhoff. "Soupy" delivered a tackle that may earn him a call from the Cleveland Browns and forced him to the box for two minutes.
The Jackets went to the power play a couple minutes into the second period and immediately found pay dirt. Scott Hartnell took a nice pass from Nick Foligno in the slot area and ripped the puck past Quick's shoulder to the far post. Despite losing the possession battle, the home team was up 1-0 and perhaps looking to gain some momentum.
Columbus killed off a minor penalty to Andrew Bodnarchuk and Ryan Johansen showed off his skill in a pretty non-goal shot while on the kill. Seriously, if it had gone in it would have been a goal of the year candidate.
The Kings dominated the second period, outshooting the Jackets 15-6 and forcing Bob to stand on his head. He was up to the task and even got an insurance goal later in the period. Brandon Saad was able to find Matt Calvert skating free on a stretch pass from the defensive zone. Calvert skated into the Kings zone unimpeded on a bit of a breakaway and looked off the defender by pausing momentarily with William Karlsson streaking down the middle of the ice. After holding and showing pass, Matty Ice wristed one past Quick for a 2-0 lead. There were less than 7 minutes remaining in the period and the Jackets were being outplayed everywhere else on the ice, but Columbus looked like they could steal the game at this point.
Three minutes later, David Savard tried to clear the puck from the defensive zone. He rocketed the puck off the boards in the corner right to Christian Ehrhoff. The Kings defensemen then fired a slap shot past Bobrovsky as the dam broke momentarily. The CBJ were able to finish out the period and head into the break with a 2-1 lead despite being horribly outplayed.
The L.A. dominance continued into the 3rd as the Jackets seemed just to be trying to hold on for dear life. Bobrovsky stopped 33 of 34 shots before heading off the ice at 5:35. It was not clear what was ailing Bob before the timeout, but Twitter is speculating head/neck/chest area while the broadcast crew thought it may have been a leg issue. Either way, Bob had a lengthy discussion with trainer Mike Voigt before being replaced by Curtis McElhinney.
The team should have been able to close out the final five minutes, but you could almost sense that this was not going to end well. The Kings pulled Quick and with 1:27 they found the tying goal. Alec Martinez fired a shot from the point and McElhinney kicked out a rebound into the slot. Milan Lucic got the puck to CMac's left where Jeff Carter was waiting, unmarked. Carter had an open net and wasted no time tying the game at two.
The overtime featured a few prime scoring chances, but the game remained scoreless into the final minute. The Kings were going through a cycle (as much as you can "cycle" in 3-on-3) and hit on tic-tac-toe passes. Alec Martinez finished the scoring with 27 seconds to go, ending the game before the shootout.
Final - LA Kings 3-2
Sigh. I guess there are two positives here - 1) Bobrovsky was ridiculous and kept the team in this game for nearly 55 minutes and 2) the loser point kept the CBJ out of Eastern Conference cellar.
We will keep you updated on the condition of Bob. Tortorella said in the post-game presser he would be reevaluated Wednesday. Is anyone even really surprised? This is Columbus we're talking about after all.