Performance does not always equal results. There are poorly-played victories and well-played losses. This was the latter. Well, there were mistakes, sure, but it was a much better performance than the lackluster effort that nevertheless earned a point for the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday against Minnesota. No such luck tonight against the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks opened scoring in the first after a Matt Calvert tripping penalty. This was one of those offensive zone penalties that Torts says often lead to power play goals. The Sharks have one of the league’s best power plays this season and of course the Blue Jackets have been woefully poor on the penalty kill over the last month.
I think I may have spotted the flaw in the PK. The Jackets are doing too much chasing of the puck. The Sharks did a great job moving the puck, and this got too many Jackets out of position and opened a wide lane for Logan Couture’s shot.
This was a chippy game, and later in the first Brandon Dubinsky and Brenden Dillon got matching two minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for a mid-ice shuffle. Dillon started it by shoving Dubi in the back, but Dubi finished it by lifting Dillon’s leg with his stick and slamming him to the ice. I fear Dubi may hear from the Office of Player Safety about this.
The Blue Jackets tied it up in the second. Dean Kukan sent an outlet pass up ice to Cam Atkinson, who carried it into the offensive zone. He passed laterally to Boone Jenner who fired from the wing. Good things happen when you shoot, and this one found the top of the net. Now, I don’t think that should be Boone’s game, as I want him to be around the net instead. But I won’t be picky here. Torts said that this was the best game he’s seen from Boone in a while.
Later in the second, a Nick Foligno mistake proved costly. With Seth Jones already in the box, Foligno got sent off for a hooking penalty. If this were a breakaway attempt, then maybe I would be OK with Foligno doing whatever it took to break up a scoring chance. But in this case there were teammates already in the defensive zone to help out.
With the 2 man advantage, Joe Pavelski won the faceoff, collected the puck after Tomas Hertl knocked down David Savard, and sent it to a wide open Kevin Lebanc.
In the third, the Sharks sealed the deal after a long outlet pass by Justin Braun found Marc-Edouard Vlasic at the offensive blue line, then the Pickle Man deked Savard and slipped a backhanded shot past Bob.
To the Jackets’ credit, they never stopped battling. They got plenty of chances but they all just missed the mark. For the first time in a long time the heat map was in our favor:
That is a lot more action in the crease than the offense has created in a while. On the other side, there was less action directly in front of Bob.
Torts was far more talkative after the game than he was on Tuesday. He saw effort from the team, but fears the pressure and frustration is getting to them and is resulting in too many mistakes. He says “they’re trying the wrong way hard, for the right reason.”
Tomorrow the Blue Jackets are back at it again in Brooklyn against the Islanders.