Sometimes it’s just not in the cards.
The Columbus Blue Jackets had a two-goal lead with just over 10 minutes left in the third period, but after Brad Malone‘s shot toward the net from the corner deflected off of Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno and behind Sergei Bobrovsky, things started to fall apart.
Bobrovsky was fantastic in goal in his first full game back since March 23 after being sidelined with the flu, but his homecoming was spoiled by two acts of cruelty from the hockey gods.
After Gabriel Landeskog‘s goal with five minutes remaining in the third period tied the game, it went into overtime in what can’t be classified as any less than a must-win game for the Blue Jackets.
Columbus is hanging on to the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference, but it’s more of the way that the Blue Jackets would lose that would really sting throughout the locker room. Out of the five teams fighting for the last two playoff spots, the Blue Jackets have the advantage with 33 regulation victories, which will give them the edge in any tie-breaking scenario. Had they won in overtime, it wouldn’t have been how they drew up the victory, but they need two points anyway it’ll come.
After watching their two-goal lead disappear, the Blue Jackets should have stayed back against a much faster Avalanche team and tried to force the game into a shootout. Columbus is 5-2 this season in shootouts, which would give them a much greater advantage then attempting to match the speed and skill of the Avs 4-on-4.
The Blue Jackets pressed far too hard in overtime and allowed the young and talented players on the Avalanche to gain space and create opportunities.
Landeskog found some room on the outside and forced a hooking penalty from Artem Anisimov with just over two minutes left in overtime, which gave the Avs their first power play of the game. After a steller first half of the kill, the hockey gods once again came back to bite the Blue Jackets; this time it was Jack Johnson who watched the puck bounce off of his shin and behind Bobrovsky.
There’s no other way put it: the Blue Jackets blew it.
If the Jackets want to be a playoff team, they have to take advantage of situations like the one they were in Tuesday night. They can’t give up two-goal leads and they especially can’t press against a better team in overtime. If the Blue Jackets were the New Jersey Devils, who are 0-10 this season in shootouts, I can understand going all out in the five-minute extra frame, but the coaching staff needs to realize what’s at stake and who is sitting on the opposing bench.
Bobrovsky’s homecoming may have been spoiled by Colorado, but there is still plenty of time for the Blue Jackets to prove that they belong in the postseason picture.