The Columbus Blue Jackets lost a hard-fought game in Florida last night by a 4-0 margin to the Panthers. While the game might look like a blowout at first glance, the young Jackets put up the good fight for much of the night, basically playing the Panthers even through the first 40 minutes. But hot goaltending and some bad luck saw them down by a 3-0 margin – which prompted the coaching staff to start swapping the lines around. This was a mistake.
We’ll start off by saying that, a 4-0 loss is never a good thing. After winning their previous two starts over Calgary and Los Angeles, the Jackets headed to Florida high on confidence and with hopes of earning a 3-game winning streak for the first time this season. What better chance to do so, than against a Florida team playing shorthanded and missing several regulars? The Panthers had lost two in a row – their last game a 5-2 spanking by the Seattle Kraken on home ice.
This looked like a game the Blue Jackets might be able to steal, as they faced off against former CBJ netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, whose 88.4% save percentage heading into the game was amongst the worst in the league. A mostly even first period ended with the Panthers on top, with a goal from Brandon Montour. Mathieu Olivier misses his assignment here, and the Cats make the Jackets pay:
The second period was more of the same, the Jackets dug in and played hard, generating some flashes of offense and giving Bobrovsky plenty to think about. But goals by Matthew Tkachuk and Aleksander Barkov gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead heading into the second intermission. Still, it felt like the Jackets were in this thing.
They just needed to find the back of the net once, and get some momentum. We’ve seen that story play out many times with Bobrovsky over the years: team gets out in front for him, only to see a late collapse that costs him points. This felt like our night to return a favor he did for us so many times over the years.
But it was not meant to be. After two periods, the Jackets were right there. They were only out-shot by a 20-19 margin. They’d generated two power-plays and even though they didn’t convert, the energy was strong on the bench. In the third period, they mustered just three shots on goal, eventually giving up an empty netter to Sam Reinhart, sealing a 4-0 game.
What changed between the second and third period? In my opinion, this one is obvious.