Five Thoughts: Columbus Blue Jackets Comeback Falls Short, Tortorella's Gamble Doesn't Pay Off

By Kyle Morrison on March 31, 2018 at 9:30 pm
Joonas Korpisalo lets in the game-winner in overtime.
USA Today – Anne-Marie Sorvin
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The Columbus Blue Jackets nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback tonight, but they'll board their flight back to Ohio one point shy of a perfect road trip. Here are five key takeaways from tonight's overtime loss.

Wrong Call, Torts

Sergei Bobrovsky is the world’s best goalie on any given day – and he’s been particularly hot as of late. Add to that a playoff race that’s coming down to the wire and a schedule with two off-days coming up, it’s tough to find a reason to sit him in a winnable game.

John Tortorella apparently found one, though.

In a surprise move, it was Joonas Korpisalo got the start in net for the Jackets. He did not fare well. Korpisalo faced 26 shots and let in five of them, including a couple of particularly soft goals.

The Canucks aren’t great, but no game in this league is a gimme – and a team in the Jackets’ spot needs to fight for every available point. Bobrovsky has routinely given the Jackets a chance to win, even when the offense doesn’t show up. Korpisalo didn’t do that tonight, and it took a miracle just to salvage a point.

Success… On The Man Advantage?!

The Blue Jackets have been one of the league’s best even strength teams – especially of late – but they were surprisingly outscored 5-0 at even strength tonight by a bad team.

The fifth came in overtime off the stick of Alexander Edler, but the silver lining is that the Jackets took a huge step towards fixing a season-long problem in order to get it to that point. All four goals tonight came on the man advantage – two of them on standard power plays and two more at 6-on-5, with Korpisalo out for the extra skater.

While the 6-on-5 goals are a bit of an anomaly, the power play looked great, particularly on this bomb from the point by Seth Jones, set up by an absolute gem of a pass from Cam Atkinson.

The power play has been a huge issue for the Jackets, who have been at or near the bottom of the league in that area all year long, but with a potential playoff matchup against the Penguins looming, having a power play that can generate scoring is going to be vital.

Speaking of those goals…

That was one hell of a comeback, even if it didn’t result in two points.

It’s not often that you see a team get two goals with the extra skater on, but that’s precisely what the Blue Jackets did tonight, and just 16 seconds apart, to boot.

To come up just short, though, is a rough result. Still, there’s no quit in this team – and that’s a great thing to know with the playoffs looming.

Jussi’s Revenge

When the Blue Jackets claimed Jussi Jokinen a couple of months ago, the move was met with optimism that he could reclaim some of the success he’d had in Florida, Carolina and Pittsburgh. Things didn’t exactly go that way, as he recorded just one assist and failed to score a goal in 14 games with Columbus.

He tripled that output tonight against Columbus.

Jokinen – now on his fourth team of the 2017-18 campaign – joined the Canucks along with Tyler Motte in the Thomas Vanek. In 11 games with Vancouver, he’s put up a 3-5-8 line.

No reason to regret trading Jokinen, who wasn’t productive in Columbus and helped bring a huge deadline add in Vanek to the club, but seeing a player who the Jackets just cut ties with light them up a few weeks later stings in its own way.

Superstar-level contributions

The Blue Jackets don’t have a Sidney Crosby or an Evgeni Malkin, but they’re getting superstar-level contributions from their two most important skaters.

Seth Jones (1-3–4) and Artemi Panarin (0-4–4) put in herculean efforts tonight, having a hand in all four Blue Jackets goals and continuing stretches of unbelievably hot play. Jones’ goal gave him a share of the league lead for goals by defensemen, and he shattered James Wisniewski’s franchise record for single-season points by a defenseman in the process. He now has 54 points, topping the previous record of 51.

Panarin’s been no slouch, either, now with 77 points on the year. This ties his career high, set two years ago when he won the Calder Trophy – and there are still three games to play.

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