Game 30 Recap: Unsatisfying, but...

VANCOUVER CANADA - DECEMBER 15: Goalie Mathieu Garon #32 of the Columbus Blue Jackets stops Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks in close during the overtime period in NHL action on December 15 2010 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver BC Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Tonight the Jackets came out with a much better game than against Calgary early, but still found themselves having to fight from behind against the Vancouver Canucks after defensive miscues - this time mostly from Rostislav Klesla, but another key mistake by Jan Hejda eventually cost them the second point tonight. 

This will be an abbreviated recap, as I was asleep for a good chunk of the game, but also because I have to get ready to write up the final game of this trip - tonight's back to back against Edmonton.

Vancouver carried the first five minutes of play, thanks to a pair of power play opportunities, but the Jackets were able to keep them off the board thanks to a good PK and some strong goaltending from Garon, and drew momentum, eventually battling their way in and getting good looks on Roberto Luongo

The period seemed close to ending on a scoreless note when Alexander Edler scooped up a clearing attempt that ricocheted off a couple of Jackets going for a line change, and set up Ryan Kesler coming in across the zone. Rusty Klesla, in his 500th NHL game, went down too early to block the pass, and instead just gave Kesler a clear shooting lane, and he elevated the puck up and past Garon from just past the left faceoff dot for a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period.

Things went from bad to worse when Derek Dorsett was leveled behind the boards by former Jacket Manny Malhotra, and had to be assisted off the ice. The team was refusing to discuss his injury until X-rays were completed.

I'm no doctor? But that sounds bad.

The Jackets found a bit of jump, however, with a good cycle set up by Rick Nash, who got the puck along Vancouver's boards to Marc Methot. Methot chipped the puck back to Derick Brassard, and Nash curled into the crease to set up a passing play, but the lane was blocked by Andrew Alberts, so Brass did something the coaches have been asking him to do all year: Shoot.

The puck zipped past Luongo on the short side, banging off the post and into the net for a tying goal.

Unfortunately, less than a minute later, Ryan Kesler would frustrate the Jackets again, this time picking up the puck after Rusty Klesla whiffed on an attempt to corral a loose puck in the top of the Jackets' zone, charged to the net, waited for Garon to make a move, and fired the puck in for the 2-1 lead.

Into the third period, the Jackets began to bring more and more pressure, but they'd finally get a break when Andrew Alberts would go off on an interference call for playing a moving pick on R.J. Umberger, setting up a Jackets' power play.

Hold on to your hats, because you won't believe this one:

Derick Brassard would win a faceoff and Jake Voracek would get the puck back to Fedor Tyutin at the blue line. Toots would pass to Mike Commodore, who looked for an opening as he shuffled around the top of the zone, then fired a hard slapper on target...which Tom Sestito was in perfect position to redirect past Luongo.

That's right - the Jackets scored ANOTHER power play goal! That's 5 in 6 games.

It was Sestito's first NHL goal and first NHL point. Congrats.

The Jackets would have one brilliant "WHAT?!" chance to take a late lead with less than a minute to go, when Rick Nash got the puck behind the Vancouver net and fired a pass from below the goal line to Antoine Vermette in the high slot, but the 'Twan couldn't settle the puck down to shoot it - if he'd connected, it would have been the perfect reward for the efforts the Jackets had shown.

Instead, we went to OT, and though the Jackets did a good job of generating some more odd man rushes (including an excellent save by Luongo on the returning Kristian Huselius), with just over 2 minutes left in the extra time, Jan Hejda found himself in the box on a boarding call for a hit on Dan Hamhuis. (I looked at the hit....ehn. He hit Hamhuis in the numbers, but it was right along the boards. On the other hand, I didn't think it was severe as, say, the Malhotra hit that went uncalled.)

Mathieu Garon pulled out a few more save, but this time Ryan Kesler would finish the game for the Canucks, playing with both Sedin Twins and Hamhuis as a power play unit - after a good clear by the PK, Henrik flipped the puck up the ice to his brother, who lead Kesler down in a 2 on 2 rush, and Marc Methot was unable to break up the pass. Garon had cheated left to cover Daniel Sedin, giving Kesler an open net to complete his hat trick.

Final Score: Canucks 3 - Jackets 2 (OT)

Standard Bearers:

  • Derick Brassard - Brass had -5- shots last night, leading the team. Keep it up!
  • Tom Sestito - Tom played exactly the role he needed to on the PP, and found success.
  • Fedor Tyutin - After a bad game in Calgary, Tyutin came back and was a workhorse tonight.
  • Mathieu Garon - Another excellent game by Garon, even if the result in OT was less than ideal. Conventional wisdom is Mason ought to start tonight. That's going to be a hard decision for Arniel, I suspect.

Bottom Of The Barrel:

  • Rusty Klesla - After being a rock for the early season, Klesla has struggled of late, and his bad turnovers and penalties today did not help. Maybe a night in the box for him wouldn't be so bad, either?
  • Antoine Vermette - In addition to a -2 tonight, he had the game on his stick twice and couldn't finish.
  • Injuries - I'm praying that Dorsett's issue, whatever it is, turns out to be a minor one, but I have a bad feeling...do you keep using the forward group as is, or will it be time for another call up with both Dorsett and MacKenzie on the shelf?

Despite the slight bitter taste, that one point tonight was big - it put the Jackets back in 8th place in the West. If they're going to lose, I far prefer getting something positive out of it, and again, the come from behind effort was great to see. A lot of people predicted that the late first period goal would crush the energy out of this team, and it turned out to be just the opposite.

If they can man up and bring home a win in Edmonton tonight, that's a four point pickup on this road trip, which I would call very respectable, and help push them further up the bar. 

So, let's see what happens, shall we?

The Jackets will be in action tonight at 9:30pm from Rexall Place.

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