The Blue Jackets under John Tortorella have made a point of saying No Excuses.
Tonight, there may have been a few excuses, but it was still an unacceptable effort.
Missing Sergei Bobrovsky and Matt Calvert due to illness, the Jackets attempted to put Dalton Prout into a forward role to fill the gap, but the results of that experiment were unsatisfactory, at best.
Anton Forsberg would get the start, and perform adequately, particularly for a goaltender who had to travel from Cleveland, but the team would have needed Bob at his razor sharpest to cover some of the mistakes the skaters in front of the crease made tonight, and Forsberg isn’t at that level yet.
As the joke goes, it started well. Cam Atkinson’s 20th goal would open the scoring, and though both teams appeared to be struggling with the rough ice, the Jackets did a good job of keeping pressure off Forsberg, and a last rush in the final minute of the first period appeared to end in Atkinson scoring for a second time, but a call of No Goal on the ice was upheld by video review - the puck appeared to be past Cam Ward’s leg, but could not be confirmed as having completely crossed the goal line. thanks to the position of his body and the angle of the cameras.
The second period, in many ways, felt like a trip back to days we’d all rather leave behind.
The Jackets gave up two goals in just under three minutes, managed to pull even again thanks to Josh Anderson’s individual effort, surrendered the lead again, and against all odds, tied the game again thanks to Brandon Saad and Alexander Wennberg pulling off a perfect two on one rush that ended with Saad faking the pass and sniping the puck past Ward.
A few weeks ago, this would have been a perfect platform to take into the third period - for the team to find that extra gear that had been helping them win their battles in the final frame and draw out a win.
Unfortunately, that was not to be.
Surrendering another goal to the Hurricanes early in the third, the Jackets had opportunities to try to tie again, but despite getting looks at Ward they could not find the answer.
Forsberg would be pulled for an extra attacker, but the Jackets could not hold the offensive zone long enough to generate the pressure they needed, and in the end a neutral zone turnover would result in Victor Rask putting the puck in the back of the empty Columbus net, sealing the win for the Hurricanes.
The power play that had been a key to so much success went 0/4 tonight.
Shuffled lines had no cohesion.
The defense looked lost over and over again.
The team will have a two day break to rest, and hopefully recover, before facing the Lightning on Friday.
There’s a long way to go.