An uncharacteristically poor third period contributed to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ latest defeat. However, their struggles in the first two periods have been the main cause for their recent slump.
Columbus looks to snap out of a 1-4-2 stretch when it hosts the Minnesota Wild on Monday night.
The Blue Jackets (17-15-3) have dropped to last in the Central Division as a result of their recent poor play, giving up 19 goals in the first and second periods combined during their last seven contests. Despite allowing the third-fewest third-period goals in the NHL, Columbus yielded three in the final 20 minutes of 4-1 loss at Chicago on Sunday.
“I thought we did lots of good things,” Columbus coach Scott Arniel told the league’s official website. “I thought we should have been rewarded in the first and even the second. But you can’t just be close in this League.
“When it’s a 1-0 game we need to find a way to get it evened up when they give us opportunities and we didn’t.”
The Blue Jackets haven’t taken advantage of many opportunities lately, giving up 3.7 goals during their slump and converting only one of their last 13 power-play chances.
Mathieu Garon(notes) made 21 saves and stopped a second-period penalty shot, but lost for the fifth time in six starts. Rick Nash(notes), the Blue Jackets’ leading scorer with 17 goals, was held without one for the sixth straight game. However, Nash has scored in six of the last eight meetings against Minnesota, including a goal in a 3-2 loss on Nov. 6.
Minnesota, meanwhile, was booed off the ice after the second period of their 4-1 loss Sunday against Detroit. The defeat snapped a three-game winning streak for the Wild (16-14-4), who failed to win their fourth straight for the third time this season.
“We’re frustrated,” center Matt Cullen(notes) said. “We’ve been playing some good hockey, and to take a step back like that, especially in front of a great crowd, that’s all fair game. We should have probably been booing ourselves.”
After outscoring the opposition 10-3 in its last three games, Minnesota mustered only 17 shots against the Red Wings - marking the sixth time this season it’s had less than 20 in a game.
Martin Havlat(notes) added an assist for his team-leading 31st point and is a plus-2. Through 34 games of his disappointing first season with the Wild in 2009-10, Havlat had 22 points and was a minus-12. He’s had eight goals and 20 assists in 26 career games against Columbus.
Niklas Backstrom(notes) made 23 saves and dropped to 12-9-3 with a 2.58 goals-against average. However, Backstrom has had success against Columbus despite a 3-2 loss on Oct. 16. He’s 7-3-0 with a 2.03 GAA in 11 career games against the Blue Jackets.