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Blue Jackets blow early lead, get 5th consecutive loss

Cody Cousino / Asst. multimedia editor

The Columbus Blue Jackets found out firsthand Tuesday night that fast starts don’t guarantee a spot in the winning column.

Despite taking a two-goal lead in the first six minutes of their game against the Phoenix Coyotes, the Jackets fell 4-3.

The loss was the Blue Jackets’ fifth consecutive, and they were yet again denied their 300th victory in franchise history.

Derek Morris scored the game-winner for the Coyotes with 9:16 left.

“When you lose four in a row, that is the type of goal that goes in,” said Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel. “When you are on winning streaks, those stay out.”

Jackets goalie Mathieu Garon seemed to be somewhat shielded from Morris’ slap shot.

“The guy was kind of in front and touched me and kind of interfered with me a little bit,” Garon said. “I stopped it, but I couldn’t get the rebound.”

The Jackets came out with a bang, scoring just 2:56 in. Right wing Jared Boll scored his fourth goal of the season on an assist by defenseman Marc Methot.

Phoenix “played last night, and we had talked about getting after them right away and we did that,” Arniel said. “As the game went on they were able to get their legs under them and kind of settle in.”

Shortly thereafter, defenseman Rostislav Klesla blasted a slap shot past Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, extending the Jackets’ lead to two, less than six minutes in. Defenseman Fedor Tyutin and forward Rick Nash were credited with the assist.

Nash was named to his fifth consecutive NHL All-Star game Tuesday.

The second period also began with fast and frequent goals.

The Coyotes scored first, as left wing Vernon Fiddler cut the Blue Jackets’ lead to 2-1 on a shorthanded goal 2:14 into the period.

Exactly one minute later, however, Jackets left wing Kristian Huselius took advantage of a power play and tallied a goal on an assist from Tyutin.

Power-play goals are not common for the Jackets. The team ranked second-to-last in power-play percentage coming into the game, converting on just 12.2 percent of its opportunities.

But before Jackets announcer Greg Murray finished announcing the previous goal, Coyotes center Eric Belanger responded with a goal of his own, reducing Phoenix’s deficit back to one point.

The early scoring trend continued in the third period as Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata scored 36 seconds after the puck dropped, tying the game at 3-3.

Blowing two two-goal leads was extremely frustrating, Arniel said.

Shortly after Phoenix’s goal, the Jackets returned to their poor performance on the power play, failing to capitalize on a two-man advantage opportunity, which only resulted in one shot on goal.

“Our penalty killers especially did a good job for us five on three,” said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett. “A couple of times there we really battled hard.”

Despite the loss, Garon said the Jackets played a good hockey game.

“We played a great game tonight. We should have won,” Garon said. “When you need desperate wins like that, I think it’s tough for everybody.”

The Jackets will try to snap their losing streak when they host the Detroit Red Wings at 7 p.m. Friday.

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