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Down the rink: Columbus Blue Jackets recap – Week 3

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) watches the puck while teammate Brandon Dubinsky (17) moves the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Brayden Point (21) out of the way during the second period on Oct. 19, 2017. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

The Columbus Blue Jackets (5-3-0) suffered its first losing week of the 2017-18 NHL season.

Head coach John Tortorella’s club blew out Winnipeg 5-2 Tuesday night north of the border, then lost two straight at home against offensive juggernauts Tampa Bay, 2-0, and Los Angeles, 6-4.

Here are some headlines from the second week of the Blue Jackets’ season.

Power play woes continue

The Blue Jackets power-play unit was at the top of the league for much of the first half of the 2016 season, before taking a dramatic downturn to finish last in the league over the final three months. That slide has continued into the 2017 season with just two power-play goals in the team’s first eight games.

The Jackets rank third to last in power-play percentage in front of the New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks. Center Nick Foligno scored a power-play goal at 5:43 in the first period Saturday for Columbus, the team’s first since opening night on Oct. 6.

The good news for the team is there are still 74 games to be played, and the even-strength offense has been formidable enough to carry the weight of the team to this point. With the addition of left wing Artemi Panarin in the offseason, there was thought to be an immediate boost to the power play. So far, that has not been the case.

Bobrovsky can’t do everything

Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky had his first back-to-back regulation losses in the regular season since Jan. 24 and 26 of last year. It was the first time since Oct. 13 and 15 he had lost consecutive games at home.

 

He surrendered seven goals on 52 shots in two games. He allowed just six goals on 91 shots in three games the prior week. It wasn’t likely the reigning Vezina Trophy winner was going to continue his 1.47 goals allowed average and .952 save percentage after four games. However, the starting netminder allowing two goals should still be enough to win. And then on the other foot, the five goals allowed against the Kings (sixth allowed on an empty net) were not all Bobrovsky’s fault.

 

The first goal allowed Saturday came after center Lukas Sedlak and defenseman Jack Johnson failed to clear the puck along the boards, resulting in another offensive chance for Los Angeles. On the game-winning goal, right wing Matt Calvert didn’t cover the streaking Anze Kopitar who flipped the puck into the net after a cross-ice pass. There were also Jackets players in the area who could have put a stick on the puck to deflect the pass.

 

Boone Jenner returns

One bit of positive news to wrap up the week was the season debut of left wing Boone Jenner on Saturday. After beginning the season on injured reserve with a back injury, Jenner led the team with six shots on goal and had 18:11 of ice time.

Jenner played alongside Foligno and right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand, who scored his first goal of the season against the Kings. Winger Markus Hannikainen was sent to American Hockey League-affiliate Cleveland.

Looking ahead

The Blue Jackets finish off the four-game home stand with a matchup Wednesday against Buffalo (2-5-2) and Friday rematch against Winnipeg (4-3-0). Columbus then travels to St. Louis for a Saturday night battle with the Blues (6-2-1).

Top performers

Nick Foligno – two goals (2), one assist (5), three points (7), +1

Zach Werenski – one goal (3), one assist (3), two points (6)

Jack Johnson – one goal (1), one assist (2), two points (3)

Matt Calvert – one goal (1), one assist (2), two points (3)

Josh Anderson – two assists (2), two points (3)

Oliver Bjorkstrand – one goal (1), one point (4), +2

Goaltending:

Sergei Bobrovsky – 0-2 (4-2), 3.60 goals allowed average (2.16), 45 saves, .865 save percentage (.927)

Joonas Korpisalo – 1-0 (1-1), 2.00 goals allowed average (3.50), 24 saves, .923 save percentage (.873)

In the circle (faceoff record, faceoff win percentage, EV record, PP record, SH record)

Brandon Dubinsky – 21-26, 44.7, 20-23, 0-0, 1-3

Nick Foligno – 17-27, 38.6, 15-25, 2-2, 0-0

Alexander Wennberg – 14-25, 35.9, 12-23, 2-2, 0-0

Lukas Sedlak – 12-8, 60.0, 11-7, 1-1, 0-0

Overall: 214-281 (43.2 percent), ranked 31st

Special teams units:

Powerplay – 0-for-3 at Winnipeg; 0-for-3 vs. Tampa Bay; 1-for-3 vs. Los Angeles

Overall: 2-for-22 (9.1 percent), ranked 29th

Penalty kill – 1-for-1 at Winnipeg; 2-for-2 vs. Tampa Bay; 2-for-2 vs. Los Angeles

Overall: 15-for-18 (83.3 percent), ranked tied-ninth

Up next:

10/17 – at Winnipeg (3-2-0)

10/19 – vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (4-1-0)

10/14 – vs. Los Angeles (3-0-1)

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