Wed, 27 Mar 2019

Inconsistent Blue Jackets continue homestand vs. Kings

Sports Xchange
13 Dec 2018, 14:16 GMT+10

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The last time the Columbus Blue Jackets played the Los Angeles Kings in early November, they were struggling with consistency.

Win one, lose one. Look good one night and bad in the next game.

Fast forward a month and the Blue Jackets still haven't figured out how to be more consistent.

After three humbling losses at home in the last four games, the Blue Jackets will try again Thursday night to start and sustain a streak of success beginning with the Kings at Nationwide Arena.

The Blue Jackets (16-12-2) and Kings (11-19-2) both experienced tough losses on Tuesday night.

Columbus coughed up 1-0 and 2-1 leads by allowing two goals in the final minutes of a 3-2 loss on home ice to the visiting Vancouver Canucks.

A few minutes earlier, the Blue Jackets were feeling good about their chances after forward Oliver Bjorkstrand's first goal in a month gave them a one-goal lead and seemingly the momentum.

The late collapse came after the Blue Jackets were shut out on Saturday night by the Washington Capitals after opening a stretch of seven of eight games at home with a 9-6 loss to the Calgary Flames on Dec. 4.

"That's the rub now is we play the right way but we didn't get a result," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said, according to the team's website. "Can we stay with our concentration here and stay with the things we have to do? Because we made some great corrections in our game to get it back to how we should be playing, but we didn't get the result.

"We have to be able to do it (Thursday) night and keep on working at that part of it, and hopefully the results start coming our way."

Los Angeles lost the second game of a back-to-back on the road, falling 4-3 in overtime to the Buffalo Sabres. The Kings have gone 0-2 on a four-game trip that ends Saturday night in Pittsburgh and 1-3-1 in their last five games overall.

To make matters worse for the Kings, players keep going down. Defensemen Drew Doughty and Dion Phaneuf left Tuesday's game with upper-body injuries and didn't return. Phaneuf flew back to Los Angeles for evaluation.

Doughty has played in 360 consecutive games, a franchise record, but Kings coach Willie Desjardins on Tuesday night listed Doughty as day-to-day. His absence would be felt.

"Not only is he a big-time leader, he's one of the best defensemen in the game, and he eats a lot of minutes," Kings goaltender Cal Petersen said of Doughty. " ... losing him, (he's) a huge part of our team."

Kings defenseman Alec Martinez didn't make the trip because of an upper-body injury and was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Also sidelined are forwards Kyle Clifford, Jonny Brodzinski, Carl Hagelin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Trevor Lewis, and goaltender Jack Campbell.

Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin was forced to carry a heavy load, finishing with 30 minutes of ice time and contributing a goal and an assist against the Sabres.

"Every time he goes out he plays hard and he gives us both offense and defense," Desjardins said. "A lot of times guys see him as an offensive defenseman, but he can do it all and he's a big guy and he loves to play, and he's got such a good attitude around the locker room as well."

An injury also knocked a Blue Jackets player out of the game on Tuesday. Forward Josh Anderson is considered as day-to-day with an upper-body injury after he crashed headfirst into the post.

Anderson didn't practice Wednesday and Tortorella said Bjorkstrand would take Anderson's place on a line with Boone Jenner and Nick Foligno.

Sergei Bobrovsky will be back in goal for the Blue Jackets after getting Tuesday night off.

Sign up for Vancouver News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!