There will be nights like this.
The Blue Jackets did many things well but — as has been their issue at times — they had troubling converting chances. Normally, 43 shots on goal would be looked upon fondly, but Thursday night's 2-0 loss was a microcosm of other issues.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was fantastic, pitching a shutout against one of the league's top teams and moving the Lightning into the East's top spot. But for the Blue Jackets, they've got a couple of days to regroup before another impressive club (the Los Angeles Kings) comes to Nationwide Arena.
Ok, it's getting a little ridiculous.
The Blue Jackets haven't scored a power play goal since opening night.
Like, two weeks ago. You can feel the angst building.
Zach Werenski scored that goal and it was as simple as it gets: a shot from the wing by Alexander Wennberg, a long rebound, and no hesitation from Werenski to put the puck right back on goal. It got through layers of traffic and into the net, something the Blue Jackets seem to have gotten away from.
Werenski's shot is a weapon and he's had trouble finding lanes to whip pucks toward the net. Artemi Panarin is being watched closely by one or two penalty killers every time he's on the ice, hovering around the left face-off circle. The Blue Jackets want to shoot the puck more, but after nearly two minutes of zone time on a third-period power play down by two goals, they managed only one shot.
The Blue Jackets want to play fast. Everyone does, right? But they did not play fast on Tuesday night and they looked flustered by Tampa's speed all over the ice. When you're out of sync, you look slow. And when you look slow, you look vulnerable. The Blue Jackets thrive on generating speed through the middle and they weren't able to get anything going in that regard.
TIP YOUR CAP
Vasilevskiy was up to the task in facing fellow countryman Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky, back in net after Joonas Korpisalo got Tuesday's game in Winnipeg, was solid in his fifth start of the season (4-1-0). Two goals from Lightning rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (there's a reason why Tampa was excited about that Jonathan Drouin trade) were the difference in the game, but this was a tremendous goaltending duel.
Vasilevskiy didn't always look unbeatable and had more than a few peeks over his shoulder and tight squeeze arm saves. The Blue Jackets tested him from virtually every angle 5-on-5, but on the power play, they only had three shots from dangerous areas.
This was probably going to be the Blue Jackets' toughest game to date. The Lightning are a well-built and well-coached team that has a dynamic forward group, strong defense and (clearly) capable goaltending. They came in playing their third game in four nights and took it to the Blue Jackets early, then capitalized on a couple of chances from there. It's been said a number of times before, but the Blue Jackets are now going to get their opponents' best game every night. Tampa brought it at Nationwide Arena.
This four-game home stand is an opportunity for the Blue Jackets to settle in and establish their game at Nationwide Arena. They were a great home-ice team last season and, until last night, were unbeaten in their first two home games; they'll play the next three here in Columbus against quality opponents, starting tomorrow night against the Los Angeles Kings.