It was a return of sorts for head coach Claude Noel as he faced the team he stepped in to coach at the end of the 2009-10 hockey season. Noel certainly would have desired a better outcome than the 2-1 loss to the Blue Jackets to help commemorate his return.
“They scored the first goal. We wanted to get a jump, and I don’t think we did that very well,” commented Noel after the game. “I have to give them credit. Steve Mason I thought played a good game, the addition of Jeff Carter helped them, and I thought they were dangerous.”
Ondrej Pavelec made his ninth straight start in net for the Jets, stopping 25 of 27 shots. Columbus goaltender Steve Mason channeled his 2008-09 self, stopping 36 shots for his third win of the season.
Columbus opened the scoring early when rookie Ryan Johansen entered the Jets’ zone and slapped a quick one past Ondrej Pavelec. The goal came 53 seconds into the first period and gave the Blue Jackets an early lead at home.
The only spark of energy was a bought between Jared Boll and Chris Thorburn. Thorburn got a couple early shots, and Boll managed a few punches to the side of Thorburn’s helmet. Both were charged with five-minute majors midway through the second.
“I don’t think we had the type of sustained pressure consistently,” said Evander Kane. “At times we played well and played in their end, but we didn’t have enough pucks and enough traffic on net.
The Jets got caught on a 2-on-1 rush four minutes into the third period. Vinny Prospal took the puck into the corner in the Jets zone and managed to make the pass to Ryan Johansen who was waiting in front of the net. Johansen batted the puck past Ondrej Pavelec for his second goal of the night to increase the Jackets lead to 2-0.
Winnipeg’s desperation began to set in midway through the third period. The Jets picked up the pace, managing to get some more sustained pressure on the Blue Jackets.
The Jets finally cracked the goose egg with a shorthanded goal by Mark Stuart at 16:15 in the third period. Dustin Byfuglien sent the puck across the ice, deep in the Jackets zone, when Mark Stuart snuck in and fired the puck past Steve Mason.
With Ondrej Pavelec on the bench in the dying minutes of the game, the Jets managed a final flurry of pressure. Despite the pressure and the shots, the Jets couldn’t solve Mason a second time. The final buzzer sounded, confirming the 2-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.