The Blue Jackets give it a go in the third period, but their offensive struggles were bright as a supernova tonight at Nationwide Arena.
Sure, the Coyotes don't give up much. But Columbus did its part with 35 shots on goal, a bevy of chances in the third period, but their ability to finish plays off remains a major concern – and it played a large part in their 4-2 loss on Tuesday night.
They got as close as 2-1 and 3-2 (the latter in the third period), but Arizona never trailed in the game. Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves to lock down the win for the Coyotes, who tried to squeeze the life out of the Blue Jackets with swarming defense and a refusal to yield too many quality chances.
But when Dean Kukan, elevated to the top pairing in Zach Werenski's absence, scored a power play goal (!) in the second period, it looked like the Blue Jackets might be getting a foothold in the game. It didn't last long.
An opportunistic and stingy team, the Coyotes don't need to be reminded to pounce when opponents make mistakes. When you play these guys, it's a chess match. And the Blue Jackets blinked first.
Clayton Keller scored on a Coyotes power play to restore their lead at 2-1, and moments after Pierre-Luc Dubois was stuffed on a wrap-around attempt, Lawson Crouse scored down the other end for Arizona. That sequence, while familiar, has been a troubling refrain for the Blue Jackets this season: when they don't capitalize, they pay for it in more ways than one.
Thin, the margin is.
Werenski (shoulder) is expected to miss up to a month. Markus Nutivaara (upper body) has resumed practicing but a timetable for his return is currently unclear.
The Blue Jackets welcome back Artemi Panarin when they host the New York Rangers on Thursday night at Nationwide Arena.