Blue Jackets say crushing defeat was ‘mostly mental’

The Flyers scored on Columbus goalie Curtis McElhinney four times in the third period, leading to the Blue Jackets' loss.

Eric Hartline/Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Embarrassing was the word of the night, after Columbus blew a 3-0 lead after two periods. Far from their best game, they seemed headed to a victory and two valuable points against a divisional foe. But in the final frame, the Flyers pushed back and scored 5 goals to the Blue Jackets 4. This one has to sting, a lot.

"It was extremely disappointing," said Columbus head coach Todd Richards, "just in how we mismanaged the game. The first period wasn’t good, our goaltender was great. We were opportunistic, coming out of the period scoring a goal 1-0."

"I think we rebounded somewhat in the second. But, with a 3-0 lead going into the third, we knew they were going to come out. We talked about the first six minutes being ‘key’ and critical for us. But there was no composure, no poise… things that you talk about needing to have when playing with leads."

With leads of 3-0 and 4-2, Columbus managed to ultimately lose 5-4. Philadelphia goalie Steve Mason was not that good on a night that saw his teammates bail him out to secure the win.

"It’s a 60 minute game", said Richards. "They’re a dangerous team and they proved it. The crowd got behind (them) and then a little bit of panic set-in. We started to retreat and our forwards were backing up with our defense under siege. The composure going back, execution and decision-making, it wasn’t obviously good enough."

This was a proverbial "4 point game" against a divisional rival. Columbus has a few of these games in row coming up. They play the Flyers again Saturday in the friendly confines. While they are not out of the playoff race, not by a long shot, they need to tighten up their game and secure these valuable points. The time for "getting the chemistry going" is past. Production has to happen now.

"We blew an outstanding chance to win the game", said defenseman Jack Johnson. "I thought we were lucky in the first period to get out of that 1-0. We played well in the second and set ourselves up for a great opportunity in the third to win a game on the road. We just blew it."

"Human nature, when you have a lead like that (3-0), is to try and protect it. We sat back too much in the third to protect (the lead). Hopefully, we can get a positive out of this and learn from it. Next time you have a lead, not only can you protect it, but you keep building off it."

After 35 games, Columbus holds a 14-15-4 record, good enough for 7th in the Metro. They have been within a few points of the top three in their division for some time. But, every game is critical for them.

While they are the youngest team in the league and will make mistakes, they have enough players on the bench that have been in the NHL for a while and should be able to mitigate the mistakes that are made. Such was not the case last night.

"It was mental", said forward Nick Foligno. "This one probably stings the most of any (loss) this season because we played well, no great, but we did the things necessary to get a 3-0 lead. That should be enough for this team. That should be a lead that we can keep and continue to play our game. We just gave them the momentum. We weren’t able to maintain in the neutral zone. It’s frustrating, for sure."

"It’s disheartening, because that’s a big two points for our team, not even to come away with anything. Hopefully, it’s a teaching thing for us. Hopefully, it makes us realize that we’ve got a ways to go and we have to regroup here and be ready for a big game against them on Saturday."

Their next four games are all against divisional opponents ahead of them in the standings. They need 6 of those possible 8 points. They’ve shown that they can play with verve, even with the roster somewhat ravaged by injury. The question remains being consistent and playing a full 60 minute game, each and every night.

 

Short Shifts

– Forward Jack Skille, in for the injured Derek MacKenzie, had a goal early in the 2nd period against the Flyers. Later in the period, he blocked a shot with his hand, almost immediately coming off the ice. He only played a few shifts in the third period.

– Both forward Marian Gaborik and defenseman James Wisniewski could return to the lineup tomorrow as Columbus hosts the visiting Flyers. Can they both jump right in and contribute against a good Flyers team after coming off injury?