If the Blue Jackets felt a little more confident leaving Tampa, they're heading back to Columbus (to face the Lightning) on a completely different vibe.
There wasn't a lot of life from Columbus in this dull defeat.
Here are three things from the series finale at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
It's a lot of work for the Blue Jackets to score a goal. We aren't surprising you with that assertion. But given chances to get back into a game, there are times when a team–struggling or not–must take advantage.
The first penalty of the game put the Blue Jackets on the power play late in the second period, a power play that would carry over (the bulk of it) into the third. There wasn't much happening there, other than wondering if anyone realizes Patrik Laine on the left side of the ice, waiting to unleash his one-timer.
Again, their biggest weapon–Laine's shot–wasn't heard from when the Blue Jackets needed a goal. Something's wrong there, right? He had two shots on goal, and the most dangerous look didn't arrive until the dying moments of regulation with the goaltender pulled.
When things aren't going well 5-on-5, either, you need a big moment like that power play to turn the game around.
GRIGS SHOWS OUT
There's at least one bright spot from today, right?
Well, yes. But everything's relative after another clunker in Florida.
Mikhail Grigorenko came to the NHL this season hoping to earn a shot with the Blue Jackets.
His play has been inconsistent, and really, the only consistent thing about his season has been shuffling back and forth between the Columbus taxi squad and the active roster. Despite the litany of under-performances up and down the Blue Jackets' roster, Grigorenko hasn't been able to get a regular opportunity. Tonight, he drew back in and make a solid account of himself.
He was buzzing in the first period, creating two or three chances on a single shift but his line mates weren't able to beat Chris Driedger. Another strong shift, in the clip above, drew the penalty that sent Columbus on the power play late in the second period.
A season-high 46 shots in Saturday's 5-2 loss felt like the type of game the Blue Jackets need to play in order to beat the Panthers, who are usually a stingy team in their own end. They didn't get the same effort on Sunday, and had a hard time getting any quality scoring chances. The only reason the game was close was Joonas Korpisalo, who got the start after coming on in relief Saturday.
One issue? The Blue Jackets turn the puck over like it's a rotisserie chicken.
We've said it before here, and it bears repeating: the Blue Jackets may be playing better in spurts, but it's essentially a done deal at this point. Their run of four consecutive postseason appearances will, in all likelihood, come to an end, and this bizarre season will have a lot of people in the organization scratching their heads when the dust settles.
On many nights, these Blue Jackets hardly resemble a team that's amassed a steady run of regular-season success under John Tortorella. While it's easy to blame the head coach (and sure, the product is his responsibility), the number of players who have been unrecognizable in 2020-21 far outnumbers the list of those who have impressed.