A week into the season, both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Vancouver Canucks are still searching for their first victory.
Each aims to avoid opening with four straight losses when the teams meet on Tuesday night at Columbus.
The Blue Jackets most recently dropped their first four games of the season in 2015-16, when they began 0-8-0. Meanwhile, the Canucks last failed to record a win in their initial four contests during the shortened 1995 season, when they tied the opener, then lost three straight. They have never lost four in a row to open a campaign.
There are plenty of reasons for Columbus’ rough start. The Blue Jackets have been outscored 14-5, gone 0-for-8 on the power play and struggled with both mental and physical mistakes.
Columbus fell behind 2-0 at St. Louis on Saturday but tied the game with second-period goals from Gustav Nyquist and Sean Kuraly. However, the Blues broke things open with three goals in the third — one off a four-on-two situation and another via turnover — to pull away for a 5-2 victory.
“You want the teams to have to earn it against you,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “It’s unfortunate that we are giving some stuff that I don’t think we need to be giving.”
The Blue Jackets also have failed to score in the third period on the young season.
“Those are the things we’re going to have to clean up because we don’t want to be on (the losing) side of the game any longer,” Kuraly said.
Columbus had won four in a row over the Canucks before falling 4-3 at Vancouver on Dec. 14, 2021.
Johnny Gaudreau, who has a goal with an assist three games into his Blue Jackets career, recorded 13 goals and 29 assists in 41 games against the Canucks while with the Calgary Flames.
Amid a five-game trip to open the season, Vancouver is the first team in NHL history to lose its first three contests while holding multi-goal leads in each one, according to Sportsnet. The Canucks led 4-2 after two periods Monday at Washington, then fell apart in the final frame of a 6-4 defeat.
“Mentally weak would be a good assessment,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said of the current state of his squad. “When you’re on a roll, you’re waiting for good things to happen. And with something like this, you’re waiting for something bad to happen.”
Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko, who set career bests last season with 33 wins and a 2.72 goals-against average, has yielded 13 goals on 85 shots while starting all three games of 2022-23. However, he could be rested Tuesday in the back-to-back scenario for the Canucks, whose penalty-kill unit has also allowed six goals on 12 opponents’ chances with the man-advantage.
One early positive for the Canucks is Elias Pettersson, who has two goals and two assists on the season. He has totaled four goals and three assists in six career games vs. Columbus.
After dealing with an illness, the Blue Jackets’ Elvis Merzlikins stopped 20 of 25 shots during Columbus’ Saturday loss to the Blues. He is 2-1-0 with a 2.35 GAA and a .935 save percentage against Vancouver for his career.
–Field Level Media