Senators 4, Blue Jackets 1: Confidence takes hit with fourth straight loss

Richards can see frustration setting in after 5-9-0 start to season

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Kyle Robertson | Dispatch
The Blue Jackets’ Ryan Johansen (19) tries to pass the puck after getting knocked down in the first period.

It’s going so bad for the Blue Jackets now that goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is being tinkered with by his position coach after early season struggles, the forward lines are lacking confidence and the defense has been making too many turnovers.

A roaring start this is not.

Last night, the Blue Jackets lost their fourth straight game for the second time this season, falling 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators in front of a sparse crowd of 13,122 at Nationwide Arena.

“It’s a (lack of) confidence and frustration,” coach Todd Richards said. “What we have to do is find solutions to win hockey games. It’s a 2-1 game in the third. There’s an opportunity there, and we let it slip away.

“When you’re playing with confidence, you score more goals. When you’re not, it just seems to not find its way into the net. But we have nobody to blame but ourselves. The only way we’re going to get through this is ourselves. We have to find a way.”

The only time the Blue Jackets scored on Senators backup goaltender Robin Lehner was early in the third period, a power-play goal by R.J. Umberger at 3:02 that cut the Jackets’ deficit to 2-1. But Ottawa, which had lost five straight, scored twice in the final 6:05, the latter an empty-net goal in the closing seconds.

Lehner finished with 32 saves, 26 in the first two periods.

“We have to stay upbeat,” Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky said. “Nobody’s going to go out there and do it for us besides the 23 guys in this (dressing) room. We have to trust each other and believe in each other and come to work with a good attitude and try to get better.”

It’s not that the Blue Jackets didn’t play with passion. They had 25 hits, blocked 12 shots and had four fighting majors, two by right wing Jared Boll. And it’s not that they didn’t create scoring chances.

“That’s the positive thing,” defenseman Jack Johnson said. “We are creating chances. But chances aren’t goals. We have to finish.”

Umberger’s goal broke a scoring drought of 100 minutes, 48 seconds, dating to the final minutes of a 4-2 loss on Friday night at the Pittsburgh Penguins. Umberger scored from one knee in the slot with the puck going through a crowd in front of Lehner for his second goal of the season.

But that was it. The Jackets managed only five shots the rest of the way.

“It feels like we’re doing all the right things for most of the game, and guy are getting chances,” center Ryan Johansen said. “It’s a frustrating thing right now.”

The Jackets’ 5-9-0 start is reminiscent to last season’s tough beginning.

“We all have to look in the mirror, take a good look at our games,” Richards said. “We have to be better.”

aportzline@dispatch.com

@Aportzline

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