It ended the way too many Blue Jackets’ games have concluded this season.
Despite Emil Bemstrom’s first career hat trick helping them overcome a 3-0 deficit in the third period, a victory wasn’t in the cards Monday night at Nationwide Arena. Rather than Bemstrom scoring a fourth goal to lift Columbus to victory, the Nashville Predators won, 4-3, in overtime on a goal 3:24 into it by defenseman Roman Josi.
It was Josi’s second goal of the game and yet another sour finish for the Blue Jackets (16-25-12), who earned an unlikely point but lost another game that needed more than three periods.
“You’ve got to be happy about (the point) for the guys, but ... it just gets old,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “I mean, that’s 12 of them for us, where we haven’t been able to do it in overtime or a shootout. It’s frustrating.”
The bright side was Bemstrom, a goal-scorer in Sweden who hadn’t hit the back of the net since the final game of last season – prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Playing his second game since returning from a high-ankle sprain, Bemstrom finally scored to overcome a season filled with missed shots, flubbed shots, defenseman saves and other means of scoring chances turning to dust.
He didn’t score just once either. He broke out of his slump with a natural hat trick in the third period that tied it 3-3 on his first hat trick since playing junior hockey in Sweden. Hats began hitting the ice seconds after he lit the goal lamp to cap a Blue Jackets power play late in the third.
“I’m just happy that I scored some goals,” said Bemstrom, who became just the fourth Blue Jackets player in franchise history to score three goals in one period. “Unfortunately, we didn’t win the game, but I think we played a pretty decent game. I’m just happy and proud of myself that I could get a hat trick in this league.”
His teammates were too.
“Any goal-scorer who goes through a streak of not scoring, you know it weighs on them,” said defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who assisted on Bemstrom’s first two goals. “They’re different breeds, guys who can put the puck in the net that easily, and I’m super happy for him. I’m not sure if he’s old enough to have a beer to celebrate or not, but hopefully that’s on the agenda for tonight.”
The Predators also left the ice with something to celebrate. The victory combined with the Carolina Hurricanes’ win over the Chicago Blackhawks officially eliminated Chicago from contention for the fourth-and-final playoff spot in the Central Division. It also put them four points up on the Dallas Stars, who lost in overtime to the Florida Panthers.