Two teams mired in slumps look to get back on the winning track when the Columbus Blue Jackets host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
The Blue Jackets have lost four of five and are coming off their 10th straight road loss, a 6-3 defeat at Tampa Bay on Tuesday night. Tim Berni scored his first NHL goal, Patrik Laine had two assists and Elvis Merzlikins made 40 saves for the Blue Jackets.
“You don’t want to give anything for free and I feel like we did that,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “(The Lightning) are good enough to generate (offense) on their own. They make you pay on mistakes, they’re really good at that.”
Gavin Bayreuther had one of the three Columbus goals in Tuesday’s loss.
“I think we gave up again,” Bayreuther said. “Guys get frustrated. It’s hard, it’s really hard to win in this league, but it’s really unfortunate.”
Berni’s first career goal came off a wrist shot after a feed from Laine and got the Blue Jackets within 3-2 at 4:35 of the third period. It also was Berni’s first NHL point in his 17th game.
“Obviously a cool moment, super fun to score my first one and get the team back (within) 3-2,” Berni said. “I would’ve liked to win when I scored my first, but it was fun.”
Laine got his first point since Dec. 20, ending a six-game drought.
“We’re learning the hard way,” Larsen said. “Guys are trying, they’re giving effort. We get back within a goal and then we take penalties. You take two penalties against a group like that, and they make you pay.”
The Blue Jackets are 4-20-1 this season when giving up the first goal.
In their most recent home game Saturday, the Blue Jackets were the beneficiaries of Kirill Marchenko’s first NHL hat trick as the Blue Jackets beat the Hurricanes 4-3 in a shootout.
Marchenko is the sixth rookie in Columbus history to record a hat trick.
“For me it was my dream, scoring three goals at home for the fans,” said Marchenko, who has eight goals in 15 games. “Thank you so much to the fans. It was great.”
The Hurricanes lost their season-high fourth straight Tuesday, dropping a 5-3 home decision to the New Jersey Devils.
The Hurricanes blew a 3-1 lead late in the second period, allowing New Jersey to score twice in an 18-second span to tie the game heading into the third period. The Devils scored twice in the third to come away with the win.
“That last minute (of the second period) killed us,” Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “There’s no doubt about it, and then we didn’t respond in the third. It was a great two periods, playing a really good team. We just didn’t get anything out of it.”
The Hurricanes hope a game against the cellar dwellers of the Eastern Conference will help them snap the losing skid.
“It’s not great,” Carolina captain Jordan Staal said. “It’s frustrating. I hope this group doesn’t think they’re better than they are and we have to come back with a better, grittier effort. We have to get back to the way that we want to play and the way we want to do things around here.”
The NHL announced Wednesday that Brind’Amour will represent the Metropolitan Division at the 2023 NHL All-Star Weekend, to take place from Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Fla. Brind’Amour earned the honor as head coach of the Metropolitan Division team with the highest points percentage through Tuesday’s games.
–Field Level Media