The Columbus Blue Jackets finally got over the hump, advancing past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite everything that went right for the club, there were plenty of moments during the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season that – at the time – seemed to foreshadow the catastrophic reality of missing the playoffs. Below are a few of the moments (in chronological order) that kept fans wondering if Columbus was in fact the real deal prior to clinching a postseason berth:
Oct. 13, 2018: Paging Officer Bobrovsky
After a 3-1-0 start, the Blue Jackets took their talents to Tampa Bay on a Saturday night. Sergei Bobrovsky was in net and gave up 8 goals on 31 shots in an 8-2 loss. Any way you slice it, that's a night to forget.
Nov. 3, 2018: A special-teams debacle at the Staples Center
Trailing 2-1 in the third period, the Jackets went to the power play thanks to a minor penalty assessed to Ilya Kovalchuck with 12:29 remaining. What shortly followed was a shorthanded goal scored by Anze Kopitar 13 seconds later. Then, 59 seconds later, Columbus still had a man advantage when Dustin Brown drew a penalty shot and got the puck past Bobrovsky to put the Los Angeles Kings up 4-1. That was the final goal of the contest as a Jackets power play turned a one-goal deficit into a three-goal deficit. Yikes!
Dec. 4, 2018: Torched by the Flames
Cam Atkinson scored his second goal of the contest 49 seconds into the second period to give Columbus a 4-1 lead over Calgary on a cold night in Columbus. Unfortunately for the home crowd, the Flames heated up, scoring five goals in the ensuing 14 minutes to take a 6-4 lead. Atkinson was able to complete the hat trick, but it wasn't enough in a 9-6 defeat. The game remains the highest-scoring affair in CBJ history.
Dec. 11, 2018: No puck luck
Columbus was still searching for their first home victory in the month of December and held a 1-0 lead with 20 minutes left. Vancouver trailed 2-1 before their second double-deflection goal of the period tied the game at two apiece. Salt was rubbed on the wound with 1:46 on the clock when Jake Virtanen found a tiny space between Joonas Korpisalo and the post, scoring the game-winning goal to give the Canucks a 3-2 edge.
"Three funky goals," coach John Tortorella said following the game when describing what had transpired that night.
Jan. 8, 2019: Not Tampa Again
The Blue Jackets were ten games above .500 before their second road matchup with the Lightning. The result was a 4-0 loss. Bobrovsky gave up 4 goals on 19 shots, but that was only the beginning of a long night fans won't forget. After being pulled, Bobrovsky left the bench and headed to the dressing room. We'll probably never know the details of what exactly happened, but it's safe to say Bob was frustrated. Also worth noting – Korpisalo got the start in net for the next two games.
Mar. 2, 2019: Oilers play the role of spoiler
The CBJ went 3-1-0 in their first four games since acquiring Matt Duchene via trade. Up next was a Saturday-afternoon matchup with the Edmonton Oilers at Nationwide Arena.
Cue up a three-assist performance and a plus- 4 rating from Connor McDavid as the Oilers shut out the Jackets 4-0 and the boos were aplenty.
"There’s a standard here," captain Nick Foligno said after the embarrassing loss. "And it was below our standard which can’t happen this time of year".
Mar. 21, 2019: Desperation mode activated
The playoff picture featured the Blue Jackets on the outside looking in after a 4-1 road loss to the Oilers. McDavid was at it again, with a goal and an assist on an evening when Columbus only mustered up 20 shots on goal.
After yet another head-scratching loss to the Oilers, it's a good thing Columbus got their act together (won seven of their last eight regular-season games). As they say, "the rest is history".
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