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Blue Jackets’ Stinker Lends Team for Soul-Searching into Bye Week

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The Blue Jackets head into their much-needed bye week with more questions than answers following latest defeat.

NHL: JAN 12 Canucks at Blue Jackets Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Looking to turn the page quickly following Thursday’s defeat in Buffalo, the Columbus Blue Jackets were back home Friday night to face the Vancouver Canucks.

1st Period

A penalty 3:43 into the game resulted in a power-play goal for All-Star Seth Jones. It’s his eighth goal of the season and 10th power-play point. Nick Foligno and Artemi Panarin assisted on the play. Foligno has points in three of his last four games, and Panarin is on a four-game point streak.

Columbus registered the first six shots of the game, with Vancouver not getting their first until nearly seven minutes into the frame.

Despite the Jackets’ advantage with shots, it was Vancouver dominating the faceoff dot, with a 10-2 advantage early. As was the case Thursday for the recently returned Alexander Wennberg, he was hit by a slapshot on the right leg but did not appear limited.

Jacob Markstrom kept his team in it, snaring a couple of good chances throughout the period. Oliver Bjorkstrand had a couple chances, his first inside the four-minute mark right off the faceoff to Markstrom’s left.

With time running out in the first period, the second opportunity came with Bjorkstrand out in front of the play, Wennberg nearly finding him on the pass. The puck bounced off a Canucks player’s skate, and off the left post to Markstrom. Vancouver won 12 of the first 18 faceoffs, and Columbus led the way with 60% of 5v5 high danger chances.

Scoring

Seth Jones PPG
Nick Foligno A
Artemi Panarin A

Shots

Columbus 11
Vancouver 8

2nd Period

With Columbus potentially missing chances to pad the lead, Vancouver made them pay 1:19 into period two. Starting the period on a power play, a holdover from Zach Werenski’s tripping call late in the first, Sven Baertschi found the equalizer.

In front of Sergei Bobrovsky, Thomas Vanek made the no-look, backhand pass to Baerteschi. In between the exchange, the puck kicked off Scott Harrington’s skate. The goal was Baertschi’s ninth goal, first in 12 games, and sixth power-play goal.

Looking for a response to Vancouver’s goal, the Blue Jackets nearly retook the lead seconds later.

Immediately following the center-ice faceoff, a dump-in by Werenski off the boards got away from Markstrom. Panarin, jumping on the loose puck in the slot, fired but missed as the shot just went off the left outside part of the net.

That was the kind of puck luck that has worked against Columbus lately, and the play was nearly similar to Buffalo’s second goal scored Thursday night.

As the start of the second period saw the Canucks pick up the pace, they found their second goal, and first lead of the evening, at 5:38. Erik Gudbranson with his first of the season. Speaking of puck luck, the posts continued to haunt John Tortorella's crew all night.

The Canucks’ good fortune was not done.

With mere seconds remaining in a penalty to Lukas Sedlak, Brendan Gaunce scored on a broken stick play that went through the wickets of Bobrovsky. For good measure, Vancouver found the net for the fourth time in the second. This time, Alexander Edler's slap shot from the point found the deflection off Markus Nutivaara’s inside skate, just to the left of Bobrovsky.

Scoring

Sven Baertschi PPG
Thomas Vanek A
Sam Gagner A

Erik Gudbranson G
Loui Eriksson A
Henrik Sedin A

Brendan Gaunce PPG
Thomas Vanek A
Michael Del Zotto A

Alexander Edler G
Daniel Sedin A
Henrik Sedin A

Shots

Columbus 12
Vancouver 12

3rd Period

Scott Harrington found the net for the Jackets, ending the four-unanswered by Vancouver’s middle period. Foligno added his second assist. The game was sealed by Vancouver’s fifth goal, an empty-netter by Jake Virtanen.

Scoring

Scott Harrington G
Nick Foligno A
Matt Calvert A

Jake Virtanen EN
Markus Granlund A

Shots

Vancouver 8
Columbus 5

Additional

Vancouver entered play 0-4-1 in their last five, but they were the better team from the second period on. Former Blue Jacket Sam Gagner had the assist in his return to Nationwide Arena. He had three shots in 16:01 ice-time.

The tone might feel different had a few pucks off the post found the back of the net. Either of the last two games.

Columbus’ missed opportunities in the first period, compounded by some fortuitous bounces for Vancouver, such as on Baerteschi’s and Edler’s goals, was the story Friday. That inability to further capitalize, however, has been the constant theme in Columbus for some time.

The Blue Jackets can certainly use the bye, however, they will need to come out firing in the tightly-contested Metropolitan division. The Capitals, winners over the Hurricanes Friday, also head into the bye week and are six points ahead of second-place Columbus. The Jackets' next matchup is against the Stars Jan. 18.