Blue Jackets Can't Finish Their Scoring Opportunities In Frustrating Loss vs. Blackhawks

By Jacob Nitzberg on February 25, 2021 at 10:04 pm
Feb 25, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand (28) grabs a loose puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

It’s one thing to generate chances, but it’s another to finish them.

The Blue Jackets succeeded in the former category, but weren’t proficient in the latter tonight. They hit three posts and saw several grade-A chances stopped by Malcolm Subban, who turned in a 27-save shutout as the Blackhawks won, 2-0. It was Subban's second shutout of his career.

In their shootout loss to the Blackhawks on Tuesday night, the Blue Jackets probably didn't deserve a point with the way they started the game. Tonight, they started very well, but couldn't bury the chances that they created in the first period — a trend that continued all game. They were defensively solid, unlike Tuesday's contest, but they couldn't find the back of the net.

Shot attempts in the first 20 minutes were 18-6 in favor of the Blue Jackets, and shots on goal were 8-3, Columbus. Patrik Laine hit the post twice, including once on the power play. 

Overall, the Blue Jackets dominated scoring chances. Per Natural Stat Trick, high-danger scoring chances were 10-3 in favor of the Blue Jackets, and Columbus attempted 51 shots to Chicago's 43.

"It's tough to get blanked tonight, but I think we did some good things," said Zach Werenski, who made his return from a lower-body injury after missing Tuesday's game. "I think we can generate a little bit more, maybe with screens or something like that, when a goalie's playing as good as [Subban] was tonight, but he made good saves."

John Tortorella, who has been very vocal about his team's difficulties in their defensive zone, was happier with their effort in that regard tonight, but was blunt about the way the game ended. "We don't find a way to score, and they do. One shot beats us," said Tortorella. He was pleased with his team's effort in the first period, and noted that their breakouts and positioning were to the standard he'd like them to be.

However, the second period ran away from the Blue Jackets tonight, and although they held strong and didn't allow a goal, their performance in the second period meant that the game was up for grabs in the final 20 minutes. 

"We had our chances, and just couldn't come away with one," said captain Nick Foligno. This was one where you felt like you could get (a goal), and it might turn the tides." 

Foligno is goalless in his last seven games, and he's not alone in his frustration. The Blue Jackets finally played a solid defensive game for 60 minutes, and they weren't able to score. He was paired with Laine and Oliver Bjorkstrand to start the game, but the trio didn't have the same energy and chemistry that they did in the third period vs. Chicago on Tuesday.

"I think everyone is tired of rhetoric and saying things. We have to find a way. We have to find a way. It's in that room," said Foligno. 

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