Blue Jackets look for home-ice edge against Canucks
COLUMBUS, Ohio — For some reason, the Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t feeling at home in their own arena.
The Blue Jackets’ record at Nationwide Arena dropped to 7-6-1 with a 4-0 loss on Saturday night to the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.
They’ll get another crack at trying to fix their home woes on Tuesday night when they host the Vancouver Canucks (13-16-3).
The home struggles are confounding to Blue Jackets players and coach John Tortorella considering their road record is a formidable 9-5-1. The same intensity doesn’t appear to be there on their own ice.
“What happens during a season is things go well for you and you start to go down a weird road,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno told reporters on Monday. “We’ve gone too far down that. We’ve got to get back to checking and playing hard defense. We did everything not to win the game. They did everything to win the game.”
To remain in the upper echelon of the Metropolitan Division, the Blue Jackets (16-11-2) have to figure out their issues in a hurry. The matchup against the Canucks is the second game of a six-game homestand. Columbus has nine home games in December and its record is already 0-2.
Tortorella wasn’t happy with the performance against the Capitals and direct in his assessment. He promised changes, including the duties of the coaching staff, to get the train back on the tracks.
“It was disgusting,” Tortorella said, according to the team’s website. “After our loss home, what a debacle 9-6 (to Calgary last Thursday), to show up on Saturday night for first place seeding, at least this time of the year, against the team that knocked us out of the playoffs, in front of, I guess, pretty basically a full house, it’s embarrassing.
“We did not compete. We sensed it right away. It caught me off guard. There’s no excuses, it’s embarrassing. … I have missed something in preparing them for something I thought was a really important game for us. It was. I missed something along the way. I’m part of it. I’m embarrassed that we embarrassed our organization.”
The Blue Jackets had not been shut out for nearly a year (a 5-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning last New Year’s Eve) and winger Cam Atkinson’s career-high points streak ended as 12 games, one short of tying the franchise record.
The Canucks are feeling much better about their effort after a 6-1 road win on Sunday over the St. Louis Blues. They’ll be aiming for their third straight win against the Blue Jackets in the middle of a three-game road trip.
Rookie sensation Elias Pettersson led the Canucks to their last win with a goal and four assists for his second five-point game of the year. He’s just the sixth rookie in the NHL expansion era with two or more games with five points or more.
On Monday, Pettersson was named the first star of the week in the NHL after producing two goals and six assists in the last three games. He leads all rookies with 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) in 26 games and has one more goal than teammate Bo Horvat.
“I’m just trying to create chances and points will come when you play good,” Pettersson said. “That’s all I’m thinking of.”
Vancouver’s Brock Boeser had a hat trick against the Blues and gave credit to his 20-year-old teammate.
“He can make passes that most guys can’t,” Boeser said. “You’ve always got to be ready.”
Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom is impressed with the Boeser-Pettersson duo.
“They’ve been doing a great job,” he said. “They put up a lot of points and a lot of goals. … That’s what we need, and they’ve been rewarded. They create chances every game and that’s huge for us.”