The Columbus Blue Jackets scored three first period goals and had a 3-1 lead over the Carolina Hurricanes. Hockey was fun, and so were the Blue Jackets.
The Hurricanes would then score six unanswered goals en route to a 7-3 victory.
The Blue Jackets have scored seven goals in the opening period since that loss, a span of 50 days and 23 games. The seven goals have been spread out over seven games, meaning that Columbus are one game away from going two dozen consecutive games without more than a single goal in the first period.
You can't win games in the first period, but with that level of putrid offense, you sure can lose them.
Columbus was 7-5-4 entering that day-after-Valentine's Day game. They now sit at 14-18-8, with two games looking against a Tampa Bay Lightning team that finds themselves fighting for first place in the division - an important achievement when you consider the drop in quality after the top three teams in the division.
It's not that the Blue Jackets are getting dominated in the first 20 minutes of the game. While they've scored only seven, they've given up just 16 goals during the 23-game span. If the defense could do that every period, they'd be at a league-best 2.08 goals per game.
Even then - even with a league-best goals allowed - the Blue Jackets would struggle to win games. They have just 48 total goals over those same 23 games - scoring on average the exact same 2.08 goals. When your favorite team has played over half the season averaging the same goals per game that would lead the league in defense if flipped, you're in for a long season.
When your favorite team has played over half the season averaging the same goals per game that would lead the league in defense if flipped, you're in for a long season.
It's especially frustrating when, outside of the first period, the Blue Jackets hold serve in the second period - an area that was very troublesome for the team last season. They've both scored and allowed 21 goals in the middle period since that woeful February night.
And now, largely in part because they just can't find the net (especially early on), it's too late for a run this season. Ottawa, Anaheim, and Buffalo are the only three teams in the NHL who have less regulation wins than the Blue Jackets. Each of those teams have played fewer games than Columbus; six total.
The standings show they're only five points out, and while true, so is this: by point percentage, Columbus is closer to last place than they are the last playoff spot. The Blue Jackets .450 clip trails 4th place Nashville by .76 points, but is ahead of the Detroit Red Wings by just .62.
That wasn't the goal.