Nationally televised games always seem to be the nights where nothing goes right for the Blue Jackets.
The pucks don’t bounce the way you think. Guys get hurt. Goals get called off. Guys play well enough to win, but the team still loses.
Tonight didn’t have a goal waved off, but otherwise...well.
The Rangers came in on a hot streak, winning five straight, while the Blue Jackets ground out a win against Detroit on Saturday and were looking to keep this homestand going with another win.
Antti Raanta started in net against Sergei Bobrovsky, while the Jackets also saw David Savard return to the lineup after missing time from his back issues, with the hope that he would strengthen the defense.
It’s nice to want things.
What the fans at Nationwide Arena saw to start the game was Scott Hartnell taking a nasty fall into the boards early in the first period - in almost the same way James Wisniewski was hurt in another nationally televised game a few years ago, colliding headfirst with the wall and needing some assistance to leave the ice - and the veteran forward would not return.
On the plus side, the Jackets did draw first blood against New York, with Brandon Dubinsky putting a five hole shot past Raanta just after Columbus’ first powerplay had expired.
The lead held through the rest of the period, and the Blue Jackets managed to draw a second man advantage in the dying seconds of the frame, but unfortunately it would be the Rangers taking advantage of the fresh sheet of ice, with Kevin Hayes dragging the puck deep into the Columbus zone shorthanded, then doing a mating dance around Cam Atkinson and Zach Werenski before passing back to a wide open Dan Girardi, who put a quick wrist shot past Bobrovsky to tie the game.
Full credit to the Blue Jackets - they put pressure on the Rangers from there, outshooting New York on the order of 14 to 3 in the second frame, but the score was all that mattered.
Just as in the second, an early period miscue cost the Jackets badly, in this case David Savard, the last man back, having his pocket picked by Hayes, who drove in on the breakaway and outwaited Bob before putting the puck in the back of the net.
The Rangers held their lead through the better part of the period, but there was a glimmer of home when Nick Foligno threw the puck into the crease from below the goal line, looking for Alexander Wennberg, only to have the shot carom into the net off of former Jacket Nick Holden.
Sadly, when the Jackets are on NBCSN we cannot HAVE nice things, so that hope would be stamped out just a few minutes later when Jimmy Vesey and Derek Stepan worked their way into the offensive zone and put a shot on Bobrvosky that...well. Bob will want that one back.
The Jackets attempted to find another equalizer, but having to kill another penalty broke their stride, and even though they did get some pressure in the final minutes there was a lack of dangerous shots on net, with far too many passes when shots into traffic might well have brought a different result.
When all is said and done, the Jackets played well. They got a lot of rubber on net tonight and Raanta was up to the challenge, where Bob was unfortunately not, and some very painful defensive miscues gave the Rangers the opportunities they needed to pull two very important points from this contest.
The Jackets have four games left in the homestand, starting with tomorrow’s matchup against Toronto.
Put it behind you. Get at least two wins out of those four games - ideally against Pittsburgh and the Islanders if you can - and just keep skating.
They’re still in the playoff pack. The key is to stay there.