The Columbus Blue Jackets blue line did their job.
Elvis Merzlikins and the Blue Jackets forwards did not.
A pair of monumental errors in the third period by the Blue Jackets goaltender led to two goals by the Chicago Blackhawks, turning a 1-1 tie after two period into a 3-1 Chicago victory.
At the 7:41 mark of the third period, Merzlikins went behind the net to clear the puck. As he attempted to get back into the crease, Blackhawks forward Pius Suter chopped the puck out of the corner towards Merzlikins. The puck went through his legs at an off angle, then off his skate and into the net.
Just over six minutes later, it was deja vu. This time, Chicago's Philipp Kurashev took advantage of a Merzlikins error. He got the puck to Patrick Kane, who beat Merzlikins to the net to make it 3-1 Blackhawks.
"I messed up big time," said Merzlikins. "Not once, but twice tonight. The team doesn't deserve this."
Merzlikins was not alone in his struggles. Columbus did get 33 shots on goal for the game, but many were easily turned away by Blackhawks goalie Kevin Lankinen and the Blue Jackets managed only two shots in four minutes of power play time.
Boone Jenner scored the lone goal for the Blue Jackets, with Jack Roslovic picking up the secondary assist. It was the Columbus natives' first point as a Blue Jacket, and the center appeared far more comfortable than he did in his Blue Jacket debut this past Thursday.
The potential debut of Patrik Laine as a Blue Jacket is Tuesday against Dallas. The first of two against the Stars at Nationwide Arena has a 7:00 p.m. start time.