McElhinney injured, Blue Jackets play well in 3-2 loss

OTTAWA, ON - OCTOBER 18: Mark Stone #61 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates a second period goal against Curtis McElhinney #30, Nick Foligno #71 and Fedor Tyutin #51 of the Columbus Blue Jackets at Canadian Tire Centre on October 18, 2014 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

Although they played well in a hard-fought loss to the Ottawa Senators Saturday night, they lost goaltender Curtis McElhinney after Nick Foligno slid into him trying to block a shot.

McElhinney, making his first start of the season, was carried into the back of the net by the sliding Foligno. Replays appeared to show him making contact with the support bar that runs down the center of the back of the net. Although slow to get to his feet, he did skate off under his own power.

"I feel so bad", said Foligno. "It’s one of those ones where you think you’re helping and probably hurting more than anything. I was pretty disappointed that I knocked him out of the game."

Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards was hesitant to call McElhinney’s injury a head injury after the game.

"I’m careful not to say a head injury right now", he said. "Obviously, he got hit and was bent over. And Nicky comes sliding into him full-speed."

On the second night of a back-to-back, Columbus had their legs going but couldn’t seem to get any puck luck with second chances. Ottawa goaltender Robin Lehner was giving up juicy rebounds that didn’t find themselves on the stick of the visitors.

While their passing was pretty crisp and on-target, there seemed to be instances throughout the game that they could have taken the shot instead of passing the puck. Considering how many rebounds Lehner was giving up, taking the shot might have been more rewarding for them.

The Blue Jackets peppered Lehner with 40 shots and crashed the net at the end, coming up short in attempting to tie the game.

"I thought we had some great chances at the end," said Ryan Johansen (0-1-1, +1 in 17:41 TOI), "doing everything we can and playing desperate. That’s what you need to do. We just couldn’t find a way to tie it up."

Nick Foligno had a good night against his former team, racking up 1-1-2, +1 in 18:33 on the ice. He was in the middle of scrums and wasn’t afraid to go to the hard area in front of the Ottawa net. With 4 shots and 1 blocked shot, he tried to do everything he could to help them secure another win.

Asked afterwards what could have made the difference, Foligno said "We could have had a better start, in the sense of not being so sloppy. We played a pretty solid road game but could have cleaned up our end a little bit."

This was echoed by Todd Richards, who thought they played well despite the loss. "For me," he said, "I come out of this game and we lost (feeling better) compared to (Friday’s 3-2 win) game. I thought the guys played hard, but a few mistakes ended up costing us. The guys battled all the way to end."

This is a classic example of being beat by the better team. Their play against the Senators was much better and more cohesive than that of Calgary game on Friday. There are positives they can take away from the loss going into the three game west coast swing.

Todd Richards has some team-building time built into this trip before they take the ice on Thursday against the San Jose Sharks followed the next night by the Anaheim Ducks. It will be their second back-to-back of the season.

The somewhat tired legs might have been a factor, but it can’t be an excuse. With their next three games against some tough California competition, it’s time to buckle down and minimize mistakes. They know how to accomplish this by just executing the game plan.

The silver lining after this loss is that they are still above .500 with a 3-2-0 record. The left coast awaits.