Game 16 Recap: Regicide

LOS ANGELES CA - NOVEMBER 17: Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates his goal to take a 4-3 lead over the Los Angeles Kings during the third period at the Staples Center on November 17 2010 in Los Angeles California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

In chess, the phrase "Checkmate" actually grew out of the Persian Shah Mat, which translates to "The King is defeated."

With the Jackets looking to bounce back from a 5-1 loss to Colorado on Friday, they had a lot of time to plan for just how they'd attempt to sweep the board in Los Angeles.

(Side note: For those interested in a more in depth look at the game of chess than a simple hockey recap thread, I highly recommend Emanuel Lasker's Lasker's Manual of Chess. Written about 80 years ago, it's still one of the best books to approach the game, and unlike a lot of the SRS BSNS books on chess, Lasker always remembered that chess was supposed to be fun.)

Going into this game, the deck was clearly stacked against the Jackets, facing a Kings team that had yet to lose at home, was top of both their division and the Western conference, and posessed a perfect PK at home. A tough challenge for a club that while coming off a defeat, had yet to lose two in a row. 

The Jackets continued their streak of getting the opening goal, this time from a bit of a broken play. Following an unsuccessful Jackets Power Play, Mike Commodore chased the puck away from LA's Justin Williams, who sent it along the back boards. Andrew Murray out-hustled Matt Greene, and flipped a pass to an in-flight Derek Dorsett, who fired it on Jon Quick, and both Dorsett and Murray went to the net and had a chance to poke at the rebound before it flipped over Quick's shoulder and into the net.

The goal was originally credited to Dorsett, but on review it was found to have gone in off Murray's blade, giving him his first of the year and the Jackets the 1-0 lead.

A few minutes later, however, Rostislav Klesla would take a poorly timed tripping penalty, and the PK would maintain for the first minute, but the Kings would have time to set up again and again, and finally a nice passing play between Jack Johnson, Drew Doughty, and Anze Kopitar set up a Kopitar shot from the top of the circles, and while Mason made the initial save the rebound squirted free of his glove, and Michael Handzus was able to tap it behind the Columbus Netminder as he attempted to grab for the puck.

(Adding injury to insult, Mason also fell a bit awkwardly attempting to make the save, and cracked his head pretty good against the goal post. Even with his mask on, ouch.)

 Despite the Kings going to the box for a pair of calls late in the first, the Jackets would be unable to capitalize on the 5-on-3 advantage, and we'd go to the end of the first period tied 1-1.

The second period would also continue with the same draw, despite Kris Russell taking a hooking call almost right off the face off, and a too many men on the ice penalty just before the halfway point. As it turned out, that penalty had a silver lining, however, as Commodore, who served the bench minor, was able to skate the puck up ice, catching the Kings on a line change, dropped a pass to Derek Dorsett and going to the net to help set up a screen on Johnathan Quick, and Dorsett passed the puck off to Rusty Klesla, who skated to the shot and unloaded a slapper that beat Quick, ringing off the inside post and into the net.

Things seemed to be going well for the Jackets until the dying minutes of the period, when LA began to bring more offensive pressure in the Jackets' defensive zone. Justin Williams would fire a shot in from above the circles that just missed the net, but Ryan Smyth would take advantage of a tangle around the net to slide a wraparound shot behind the net and back in past Mason's leg pad, restoring the tie as the period ended.

In the early minutes of the third, the Kings would take the lead for the first time that night, this time off Justin Williams, who snagged the rebound from a Jarett Stoll past Steve Mason on an odd man rush that got past Fedor Tyutin and Derick Brassard

Most Jackets fans who were still awake (and I salute you, if you were!) probably said "Oh, here we go again..."

Then they probably got back up off the couch with a yell and a fist-pump, as the fourth line dragged the team right back up off of the mat. Kyle Wilson took a backhand shot that flipped over the Kings net, but Jared Boll was able to corral the puck as both Murray and Wilson closed back in on the crease. Wilson would take a pass from Boll, come back to the edge of the high slot and pass back through no less than four defenders to a waiting Boll, who wristed a shot from just outside the left faceoff circle and into the net.

Jared Boll - your sneaky sniper, ladies and gentlemen.

With the tie restored, this game seemed fit for OT, with neither team getting much going until about three minutes left in regulation.

Stop me if you've heard this before: Derick Brassard with a beautiful cross ice feed to Rick Nash, who deposited the puck top-shelf. Sliding his way past Davis Drewiske, Nash had all the time he needed to pick his shot and put his team back on top.

The Kings would go empty net and try to push this game back to OT, but even as they pressured the Jackets, Marc Methot would block a Justin Williams shot off the back of his foot, and the rebound would bounce straight to R.J. Umberger. Umberger got the puck through to Nash, who had enough space to fire a shot from behind his own blue line and into the empty net.

Shah mat. 

Your final score: Jackets 5 - Kings 3

Standard Bearers: 

  • Rick Nash - In all honesty, until the last five minutes of this game it wasn't a terribly great game for Nash or the first line, but in the key moment, our captain was our best player. 
  • Derek Dorsett - With an assist on the opening goal and the first tiebreaker, Doors was also a big part of the PK tonight. Only Umberger spent more time shorthanded.
  • Klesla / Methot - Remember how skeptical I was of this pairing at the start of the season? Please send me one (1) plate of crow. A big goal to give the Jackets a lift in the second period, and Methot's shot blocking was a big part of setting up the insurance goal. Can't ask for more than that.
  • Mike Commodore - In his first game back in North America this season, Deuces logged more minutes (including PK and PP time) than any other Jacket, got an assist, registered 8 hits, was a good part of setting up the opening goal, and seemed to slot back in without any issues. Welcome back.

Bottom Of The Barrel:

  • 10:45pm starts - I get that the game got delayed to ensure proper TV coverage, but damn.
  • LA Media - Rusty Klesla as the first star was interesting, but Drew Doughty and Justin Williams as the second and third stars? Methinks a lot of reporters filled out their ballots with about 5 minutes left in regulation.
  • Second Line - Admittedly, Umberger and Vermette saw a lot of short handed time, but man, where were you guys tonight? Nikita Filatov had an OK game, but whiffed on a wide open net during the 5-on-3. Oye.

Last but not least: Your moment of Schadenfreude. Please enjoy the suffering of TV's Wil Wheaton. (Dear Wil, if you happen to read this - just kidding. I loved you on Leverage.)

The Jackets' road trip continues on Friday, when they face the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center. The puck drops at 10:00pm EST.

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