Three Things: Final 40 Minutes Spoil A Pair Of Debuts In Columbus' 6-2 Loss To Arizona

By Ed Francis on March 27, 2024 at 7:19 am
Blue Jackets defenseman Erik Gudbranson blows off some steam in a second period fight with the Coyotes' Josh Brown.
© Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

If only games ended after the first period.

But they don't, and Columbus' 1-0 lead after 20 turned into another lopsided loss Tuesday night as the Blue Jackets fell 6-2 to the Arizona Coyotes.

Here are three things from the Blue Jackets defeat in the desert:

First Period: Solid, Again

The Blue Jackets have scored first in each of the last four games, all on the road. Tuesday night it was Boone Jenner connecting on the power play on solid looks from both Johnny Gaudreau and Zach Werenski:

That was about as good as it would get for the Blue Jackets. It was the fifth first-period goal through on the road trip, with Columbus outscoring the opposition 5-1 in the opening frame over that stretch. They outshot the Coyotes 16-11 and it looked like, perhaps, the Blue Jackets were on their way to ending a four-game losing streak. But that's the thing about looks; they are not always as the appear.

Second, Third Periods: Not Solid, Again (And Again, And Again)

The Blue Jackets play in the second period was, especially in the early minutes, as sharp as it's been on the duration of the road trip. But when Erik Gudbranson went to the box for slashing with just over seven minutes left, it felt like the momentum was shifting. Indeed, the Coyotes tied the game at 1-1 in the final seconds of the power play and took a 2-1 lead less than two minutes later on an even-strength goal. It was the 8th consecutive goal allowed in the middle frame over the last four games. Columbus got their first second period goal of the road trip when Zach Werenski scored late in the frame — another power play tally, giving the Blue Jackets multiple power play goals in a game for the first time since December — to tie the game at 2-2, but it wasn't enough to swing momentum back to the Blue Jackets. Arizona scored four times in the third, including two short-handed goals in the final five minutes. 

The game seemed to turn on Gudbranson's slash, which was a retaliatory play after seemingly feeling like he was the victim of a dirty play along the boards. The Coyotes second goal came immediately after Werenski appeared to have been tripped up, but no call was made. Werenski had lengthy conversations with the refs regarding both plays. 

On Gudbranson's penalty, it's understandable to be upset — but it was also an open invitation to give Arizona a chance to score, which they did. It's a penalty that probably doesn't happen if Gudbranson lets a cooler head prevail, and who knows how that turns (or doesn't turn) the tide of the game.

Angle, Malatesta Make Season, NHL Debuts

Tuesday was Tyler Angle's first game of the season (and third of his career) with the Blue Jackets and the NHL debut for James Malatesta. Angle played 9:38 and went 2-4 at the faceoff dot. 

Malatesta, who brings plenty of energy and grit, played 11:43 and led the way for Columbus with eight hits. He also took exception to a hit late in the game and let Michael Carcone know it with a quick bout in the final two minutes of the game.

It was also the first game for Josh Doan, whose father Shane played over 20 years with the Yoes. Doan scored twice, becoming the first player in franchise history to score multiple goals in his NHL debut.

UP NEXT: End Of A Road Trip; End Of A Streak?

The Blue Jackets five-game road trip concludes Thursday night in Pittsburgh, a place Columbus hasn't won since the November 2015. Puck drops against the Penguins is 7:00 p.m. 

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