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On the Road Again

A road-trip that began with much promise has quickly gone downhill. Blown leads in all three losses has been the problem. One more chance to salvage a win in Ottawa.

Last Four:

At Dallas:

Life after Nikita began for the Blue Jackets on the road against division foe Dallas.

Columbus captain Rich Nash got Columbus on the board with his 14th goal of the year followed by a goal by Kristian Huselius with only one second remaining in the opening period.

Huselius scored his added goal of the game in the second period. Raffi Torres also added his ninth goal of the season and Columbus cruised to a 4-1 victory.

Steve Mason made 25 saves in the win.

Dallas’ James Neal was assessed a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for this second period hit on Columbus’ Derek Dorsett.

Neal also received a two-game suspension from the NHL at a hearing last Friday.

At Nashville:

R.J. Umberger scored his fifth and sixth goals of the year and Anton Stralman scored his third of the campaign en route to a 3-3 tie at the end of regulation.

Shootout goals by Nashville’s Michael Santorelli and David Legwand gave the Predators the 4-3 win.

Nashville torched the nets all night long, registering 48 shots total compared to just 29 by Columbus.

Saturday’s overtime loss marked Columbus’ 12th straight loss in Nashville.

At New York:

The Blue Jackets got off to an early 2-0 lead in the first period with goals from fourth-liners Derek MacKenzie and Jared Boll.

But lately for the Blue Jackets, when it rains, it pours. This time, Columbus gave up seven consecutive goals to fall behind 7-2.

Huselius and Voracek added goals for Columbus to reach the 7-4 final.

After starting the game, Columbus goaltender Steve Mason was pulled early in the second period after giving up 4 quick goals.

In the second, Blue Jackets goaltenders gave up three goals in only 1:11, setting a franchise mark.

At Montreal:

All season long, Columbus has had problems with maintaining leads; such was the case again Tuesday night.

Powered by two Antoine Vermette goals, Columbus entered the final period leading 3-2. However, the Blue Jackets allowed three third-period goals to give the Canadiens the 5-3 win.

Columbus outshot Montreal 36-29.

With the loss, the Jackets fell to 1-2-1 on a season-high five-game road trip that will end Thursday night in Ottawa.

The Youth:

After claiming the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie a year ago, Columbus goaltender Steve Mason appears to be experiencing a sophomore slump.

In the 17 games that Mason has started, he has seen his goals against average skyrocket to 3.59, while his save percentage has fallen to .885, both among the worst in the league of starting goaltenders.

Power Play Watch:

On the power play, Columbus was 3-7 against Dallas, 1-3 at Nashville, 0-1 against New York, and 2-4 at Montreal.

This brings the season total to 23-88, or 26.1 percent, up nearly three percent from a week ago.

Columbus now leads all NHL teams in power play percentage. This continues to be an area of great strength for Columbus. My, how one year can make a difference.

The Kill:

On the penalty kill, the Blue Jackets were 4-4 against the Stars, 6-8 verse the Predators, 3-4 against the Rangers, and 3-3 verses the Canadiens.

This puts the season total at 84-106, or 79.2 percent.

After leading the league in penalty kill percentage early on in the season, the kill has become an area where Columbus has struggled mightily of late.

One possible explanation for the poor play on the kill is the fact that the Jackets are forced to kill so many in general.

Columbus has played shorthanded 106 times so far this season, good enough for third in the NHL.

Cutting down on penalties could go a long way for a team near top of the league in scoring.

Central Race:

The Chicago Blackhawks have a five-point lead over Nashville and Columbus who each have 27 points.

Chicago has won seven in a row and Nashville has a six game win streak.

With 22 games played, Detroit has totaled 26 points.

St. Louis is in last place with 20 points.

Injury Report:

The Blue Jackets have placed forward Derek Dorsett on Injured Reserve retroactive to Nov 19. after taking a dirty hit from Dallas’ James Neal.

Up Next:

The Blue Jackets will play one more road game, at Ottawa Thursday night, before returning home to face Calgary and St. Louis.

The Senators are in second place in the Northeast Division with 25 points, and are led by center Daniel Alfredsson with 23 total points this season.

Former Columbus goalie Pascal LeClaire is unlikely to play for the Senators after taking a puck to the face Monday night against Washington.

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