The Columbus Blue Jackets walked into Little Caesars Arena on Saturday with an opportunity to get themselves closer to the playoff line in the Central Division.
They left the Motor City further from the playoff picture and closer to the reality of an incredibly disappointing, perplexing season that's slowly winding to a close.
Here are three things from the series finale in Detroit.
AN(OTHER) HORRIFIC START
What is it with the Blue Jackets and starting games even remotely on time?
If Saturday's disastrous first period was setting the bar, they barely cleared it on Sunday. Once again, the Red Wings were all over them; the Blue Jackets had trouble with simple plays and simple exits, which have a way of compounding themselves. The result was another early deficit, another behind-the-eight-ball opening period, and you could see the doubt creep into their game.
The Blue Jackets had three shots in the first period against Calvin Pickard. Yes, the same guy who made his first appearance in nearly two years the day before. He must have thought this was a joke–there's no way the Blue Jackets could just coast like that, right?
They were lucky to get out of the period down only 1-0, considering how poorly they played and the lack of energy or "give" that they demonstrated. It got slightly better in the second period, but "slightly better" isn't anywhere near good enough.
Without Elvis Merzlikins, would the Blue Jackets have even had a chance?
Somehow this was a 1-1 game entering the third period, which felt like a miracle in itself. The Columbus goaltender was strong for a second consecutive day, and without a few key saves, they would've been in a big pickle.
He wasn't done there.
John Tortorella has several players to be concerned about. Through these two games in Detroit, his goaltender was not among them.
20 KEY MINUTES
Did it feel like today's third period was, essentially, the sink-or-swim moment of the Blue Jackets' season? You aren't alone.
The Blue Jackets sank like a box full of cinderblocks.
In a pivotal period, one that (if it went their way) could help them in their postseason push. Instead, they gave up the go-ahead goal and two empty-net goals to the Red Wings–yes, the Red Wings–and lost this two-game set on a 7-2 aggregate, which is hardly indicative of a "desperate" team. There was barely a sniff of desperation from Columbus, which should be alarming to anyone who cares about the team. Especially those in charge of it.
If the Red Wings, whose season has been over almost since it began, can muster more energy and excitement than the Blue Jackets...there's something going on.
Great news! They're off to Tampa Bay to continue this season-long road trip this week.