PREVIEW: Slumping Columbus Blue Jackets seek to break out vs. Predators

By Field Level Media
Feb 25, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand (28) grabs a loose puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets are tired of talking.

They’ve lost five of their past six games, including a 2-0 loss Thursday against visiting Chicago.

“In a game like (that) where it’s just a grind, you got to find a way, dig a little deeper to get that next one, and we just couldn’t come up with it,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. “This is where we find ourselves right now. I think everyone’s tired of the rhetoric and just saying things.”

The Blue Jackets hope their play will do the talking when they open a two-game series at the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Thursday’s shutout was especially difficult to take for the Blue Jackets after they rallied from a two-goal deficit two days earlier against Chicago before losing 6-5 in a shootout.

Oliver Bjorkstrand scored two goals in the final 10 minutes Tuesday for Columbus to tie it at 5-5. Patrick Laine added two power-play goals and an assist and Cam Atkinson also scored a goal.

Coach John Tortorella said after that loss that the Blue Jackets were moving in the “right direction.”

His analysis of Thursday’s shutout?

“We don’t find a way to score and they do,” Tortorella said. “We play a good first period, they play a good second period, and it comes down to the third period. They score a goal and we don’t.”

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The goal Tortorella referred to was the 399th of Blackhawks star Patrick Kane’s career, which came at 8:45 of the third period to snap a scoreless tie. Carl Soderberg added an empty-netter with 50 seconds left.

Blue Jackets defensemen Zach Werenski and Michael Del Zotto returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game with injuries and Joonas Korpisalo made 25 saves. But that didn’t help solve Blackhawks goaltender Malcolm Subban, who stopped all 26 shots he faced for his second career shutout.

The Predators had a two-game winning streak snapped in a 5-2 loss Thursday at cellar-dwelling Detroit.

Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula scored for Nashville, which is just one point ahead of the Red Wings.

“This one hurts,” Haula said. “We’ve been playing better as a group, got a couple wins, and it felt like we were trending in the right direction before (Thursday).”

Detroit’s Sam Gagner scored his first three goals of the season, including the go-ahead tally at 9:58 of the third period.

“I think we were a little too loose defending rushes and we gave them too many chances,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “And we weren’t doing enough offensively to score goals. I think we only had two or three Grade-A chances going into the third period.”

Pekka Rinne, who blanked the Red Wings 2-0 Tuesday, stopped 27 of 31 shots in the second meeting.

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The Predators were unable to muster their first three-game winning streak of the season.

“Especially in the second, I thought we turned over too many pucks,” Predators captain Roman Josi said. “They’re a pretty fast team and had a lot of counter chances, a lot of odd-man rushes, so I thought we got away from it a bit.”

–Field Level Media