Two struggling teams faced off in Columbus Saturday night, the Jackets on a three game losing streak, the Jets winless in four.
The first goal would be important.
The Jets wanted to jump on the struggling Blue Jackets early, while a first goal for the Blue Jackets would certainly help their confidence. Going into the game they had been outscored 22-9 in the first period.
Fifty-three seconds in 19-year-old Ryan Johansen's slap shot from the right side found the top corner and the Blue Jackets had the lead. Both teams had chances to score but the game's second goal didn't come until early in the third when Johansen scored again. Mark Stuart scored the Jets first short-handed goal of the season with 3:45 left, but the Jets could not find the equalizer as the Scott Arniel coached Blue Jackets won 2-1, for only their third win of the season.
Special teams played a part in the outcome as the Jets went 0 for 5 on the power play. They were 4 for 4 on the PK, but untimely penalties took away some of the momentum they tried to build.
Dustin Byfuglien and Stuart were matched up against the Blue Jackets top line of Jeff Carter (his first game back after missing 10 with a foot injury), Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger as much as Coach Claude Noel could considering he never had last change. And they did a good job. Coach Noel wanted to match the size of Byfuglien against the size and speed of Nash.
Already without five defencemen (Hainsey, Meech, Jones, Enstrom, Festerling), Stuart took a hard hit from Johansen and was in pain as he left the ice. How he feels Sunday will determine his status for Monday's game against Tampa (TSN Jets, TSN 1290), as the Jets, who lead the NHL in road games, now play three straight at MTS centre.
"We wanted to jump on them, and we didn't do it," said Coach Noel post game. "We didn't play as smart as we needed to, penalties at bad times hurt us.
"We did a good job against their top line. I'm fine with our team tonight. Unhappy we lost, but we need to keep our heads up, get ready for Monday and play with desperation."
In a post game interview on TSN 1290 Bryan Little agreed when asked if the sticks are getting squeezed right now.
"Especially after we fell behind 1-0 early," he said. "We had some chances but needed more traffic in front of Mason."
For a number of Jets players points have been hard to come by. Little and Wheeler each have two points in the last eight games, and Wheeler is still looking for his first goal.
Burmistrov, after having his six-game point streak snapped has just one point in his last eight games, that being an empty netter on Long Island.
Perhaps the good start has raised the expectations for Burmistrov.
"He's young, he's a good player, going to be a great player," said Noel.
This is a young team. Burmistrov and Kane are 20, Bogosian 21, Pavelec 24 and Little turned 24 yesterday.
The start for Pavelec was his ninth straight. Chris Mason is off IR and did back up Pavelec in Columbus though.
For the Blue Jackets, this game was the first time during the regular season they have had both of their big off-season acquisitions in the lineup together.
James Wisniewski started the season suspended while Jeff Carter suffered a foot injury five games in.
This coming week is a big one for the Jets. They are home for Tampa Monday, have a skills competition at MTS Tuesday, Washington is in town Thursday and then Philadelphiais in town for a Saturday afternoon contest.
From a Jets standpoint, hopefully some home cooking will result in some wins.
Monday ends a stretch of 17 games in 33 days, 12 of those games were on the road. After Monday the schedule allows for some much needed practice time.