Blue Jackets return home trying to break early-season skid

Three games into the season and the Columbus Blue Jackets are worried.

In danger of opening with four straight regulation losses for the first time, the Blue Jackets look to end their recent home struggles against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night.

Whether it’s unforced errors, a penalty-killing unit that’s allowed four goals on 11 chances or the fact it has yet to score first in any contest, Columbus (0-3-0) has plenty of issues than a week into the season.

"The way we’re playing right now is unacceptable," captain Nick Foligno told the NHL’s official website.

All the more so given the exciting offseason addition of Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad in a trade, as well as the pickup of veteran Gregory Campbell. The Blue Jackets, though, haven’t yet looked up to the task of moving on from last season’s playoff-less finish.

They allowed the New York Rangers to score the final three goals – all in the third period – of an opening 4-2 loss Oct. 9, then gave up the first five one night later in a 5-2 defeat in the rematch. Columbus fell behind 2-0 at Buffalo on Monday and managed to get within one on two occasions with third-period goals from Saad and Scott Hartnell, but fell 4-2.

"For me, this one is concerning," said coach Todd Richards, whose team is off to its worst start since an 0-7-1 beginning in 2011-12.

"The other games, I thought we did some things that you can build off your game," he added. "There wasn’t a lot accomplished in (Monday’s) game."

Saad, who recorded a career-high 23 goals last season, has half of the four Columbus has scored on 13 power-play opportunities. However, the Blue Jackets allowed three power-play goals to the Sabres, giving them seven chances with the man advantage.

"It’s not like we’re going to the drawing board not knowing what’s wrong," forward Ryan Johansen said. "We’ve got to manage those goal areas better.

"In sports, it’s never really rainbows and butterflies."

Johansen has a goal and four assists in four road games against Ottawa (2-1-0), but one assist during Columbus’ three-game home skid in the series.

Ottawa scored eight goals in its first two games before falling 3-1 to Montreal in Sunday’s home opener.

"We weren’t hard enough on pucks, right through the 12 forwards that were dressed," coach Dave Cameron said. "We talk all the time about if we’re going to establish ourselves as any kind of team that’s tough to play against, you have to go through pucks, not around them."

Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a short-handed goal for the Senators, who can get back on track by winning a third straight road game to open the season for the first time since 2007-08.

After Matthew O’Conner made 31 saves in his NHL debut Monday, it’s likely Craig Anderson will be back in net while holding down the No. 1 goaltending role in place of the injured Andrew Hammond. Anderson has a 2.40 goals-against average in his two starts this season and is 6-1-0 with a 2.44 GAA in his last seven starts against Columbus.

Held without a goal by the Canadiens after scoring three in the first two contests, Kyle Turris does not have any in 12 games against the Blue Jackets. He recorded two assists in a 5-2 win at Columbus on Oct. 28.