Game 52 Recap: Jackets comeback falls just short against Kings

The Jackets were not the better team tonight, but they put up a scrappy effort, falling to the Kings.

The Jackets, playing their third game in four nights, were at home to take on the Los Angeles Kings in Scott Hartnell's 1000th game. The goaltending matchup featured Curtis McElhinney against Jonathan Quick.

Columbus opened the scoring just 1:40 into the game, when Jack Skille carried the puck over the right wing blueline, shrugging off Robyn Regehr before sending a pass cross-crease. The puck deflected off a Kings defender, sliding behind Quick.

1-0 Jackets: Jack Skille - Artem Anisimov, David Savard

As has been the case far too often this season, just seconds after scoring, the Kings tied the game. Public enemy number one Jeff Carter carried the puck into the Columbus zone, then fired it toward the front of the net. Dwight King was there to redirect the puck behind McElhinney.

1-1: Dwight King - Jeff Carter, Robyn Regehr

The pace was fast and loose in the first period, but the Kings dominated in the shot department. Midway through the period the Jackets started to get sloppy, and it bit them in the rear end. After a failure to clear the defensive zone, King found the puck on his stick, and he feathered a pass to Tyler Toffoli, who was left alone in front of the net. He made no mistake in depositing the puck behind McElhinney.

2-1 Kings: Tyler Toffoli - Dwight King

Alexander Wennberg had himself a solid night. He showed serious creativity with the puck, and at one point in the opening period he rang the puck off the crossbar, causing the goal horn to briefly go off. I'd love to see Wennberg play on a line with Johansen and Atkinson, to see what the trio can do together.

Speaking of Wennberg, he drew the game's first penalty after getting boarded by Kyle Clifford. The Jackets could not convert while up a man, however.

With seconds left in the period, Jared Boll wanted to exact some revenge on Clifford for his hit on Wennberg. The two dropped the mitts, and after a spirited bout Boll skated away with the decision, while Clifford sported some new cuts and bruises.

The pace was decidedly slower in the first half of the second period. Wennberg came close to another goal, this time just missing on a backhand chance.

For the Jackets, the second period was highlighted by poor passing, scrambled play, and huge saves from McElhinney. CMac kept his team in the game, despite the chaos in front of him.

The Jackets were able to pull it together in the latter half of the second period, and managed to tie the game off a tic-tac-toe play between Ryan Johansen and Hartnell. Hartnell was the shooter, beating Quick five hole for a goal he won't soon forget.

2-2: Scott Hartnell - Ryan Johansen

Stop me if you've seen this movie before- just over a minute after the Hartnell goal, the Kings responded with a goal of their own to retake the lead. McElhinney made a stick save, but the rebound went right to the stick of Brayden McNabb, who slid the puck toward the front of the net, where it was redirected by Carter.

3-2 Kings: Jeff Carter - Brayden McNabb, Jamie McBain

Just 1:49 into the final period, the Kings scored again. After a defensive zone faceoff loss, there was a scramble in front of McElhinney. The puck was shot on-net, and though McElhinney made the initial save, Dustin Brown was there to pot the rebound.

4-2 Kings: Dustin Brown - Marian Gaborik

The Kings were content with playing the prevent defense for most of the third period. Nick Foligno was called for high-sticking, but the Kings could get nothing going.

Jack Johnson had a terrific opportunity to cut the lead to one later in the period. With Quick out of position and the net wide open, Johnson received a pass, but as he shot the puck Jarret Stoll made a huge defensive play to break up the shot.

Midway through the period Jared Boll missed a check, and got tangled with his intended target. It looked like he tweaked something low, perhaps his knee. He skated to the bench, and attempted to walk the injury off down the tunnel. We'll probably know more tomorrow.

The Jackets had yet another great chance moments later off the stick of Brandon Dubinsky, but Quick made a highlight-reel save to maintain the score.

With a little more than two minutes remaining, McElhinney was pulled. The Jackets peppered the Kings' net, with David Savard eventually breaking through with 1:53 left on the clock.

4-3 Kings: David Savard - Nick Foligno, Jack Johnson

The Jackets continued to press for the tie, but ran out of time.

FINAL SCORE: 4-3 Kings

The Good:

- Big congrats to Hartnell on his 1000th game. Too bad it couldn't have been a "W"

- McElhinney made 40 saves, and was the only player keeping this from being a blowout.

- As I mentioned, Wennberg was very good tonight, doing the little things right and showing creativity with the puck.

- I thought Jack Johnson was a beast tonight.

The Bad:

- The Jackets were playing their third game in four nights, and it showed at times. Passes were far from crisp, players were often out of position, and overall their game was sloppy.

- Jeff Carter, because Jeff Carter.

For the advanced stats for this game, be sure to check out War on Ice.

The Jackets are back in action on Friday, where they are home against the Flyers.

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