As time ticked away in the third period, you had to feel like the Blue Jackets were headed toward a disappointing finish. Turns out, the disappointment was only delayed by a few minutes.
The Carolina Hurricanes are (finally) down the road, wrapping up a four-game series with a 4-3 overtime win, shortly after the Blue Jackets sent the game to OT in the dying seconds of regulation. Take the point, but man, the second would have been gold.
Here are tonight's three things from the series finale at Nationwide Arena.
OH, THE CHANCES
The Columbus Blue Jackets...an offensive powerhouse?
Hyperbolic, yes. But in this game, they looked the part at times.
They controlled 60-plus percent of shot share and expected goals in the second period, which was their best of the three. Seth Jones had three assists, Oliver Bjorkstrand scored a huge goal with 15 seconds to play, the power play got on the board...there was a bit of everything from the Columbus side. They were buzzing.
"We talked about it...just our compete, and what we're trying to accomplish here," Foligno said. "The more looks you get, you're going to score, and that's what we have to realize. It's constant. If we get (there) on a more consistent basis, we're going to have success and we're going to go on a roll."
Execution, which has been lacking at times, was sharp tonight. Jones and Werenski were up in the play, John Tortorella was using his entire bench, and they capitalized on turnovers. This is a pretty simple recipe, but when the Blue Jackets follow it, they've shown they can be dangerous.
"We can catch teams–we have a lot of speed coming up the ice, and we showed that tonight," Foligno said. "It was encouraging to see a lot of that tonight."
Within a shift of each other, both Zach Werenski and Nick Foligno left the ice with injuries.
Werenski went awkwardly into the end boards and got tangled with Carolina's Brock McGinn, and after being helped off the ice by athletic trainer Mike Vogt, Werenski limped down the tunnel to the Blue Jackets' dressing room.
Foligno was the recipient of a nasty elbow from Warren Foegele, which earned the latter a two-minute penalty as the second period wound down. We're to assume that Foligno went through the league's head injury protocols and was cleared to return for the third period, because he was on the ice as it began. So, too, was Werenski.
Those two injuries would have been devastating to the Blue Jackets, losing arguably their best defenseman and their captain. But for now, it appears as though both are OK. Exhale, Columbus.
TIP YOUR CAP, BUT GET OUTTA HERE
The Carolina Hurricanes are a wagon. Like, they're really good.
And it's high time they hit the road. The Blue Jackets held their own fairly well, earning a 2-1-1 record in this four-game series, but they'll kick themselves over Monday's lackluster showing and tonight's missed opportunity in overtime.
Credit to Rod Brind'Amour and the Hurricanes: they have a team that can, and should, contend for the Central Division crown.