"God, you took a lot from me / I don't ask for much, just a sense of security / and all I ever wanted was a minute of your time"
"Ode We Will Bury Ourselves" by Moving Mountains
I never thought that one of my favorite songs would so aptly sum up the crap-fest that was the last three minutes of this hockey game. I sat in the press box as the Blue Jackets got ready for a faceoff in their own zone. They were holding a 3-1 lead. They had outplayed the Predators for 58+ minutes. Pekka Rinne was on the bench for the extra skater. All we ever wanted was a minute of time.
The Jackets couldn't give it to us. It what can only be described as a massive choke job, the Jackets lost in overtime after holding a 3-1 lead with just two minutes left. As coach Scott Arniel said afterward, the Jackets "[pissed] away two points." Basically, yeah.
But, it wouldn't be right if we didn't relive every excruciating detail.
Overall, it was a pretty non-descript period. We didn't hit a media timeout until the 13:10 mark. Along the way, the Jackets managed some chances while largely keeping the Predators in check. And then a weird thing happen. They came back from the timeout, lined up for a faceoff in the Nashville zone, and then stood around for a bit.
It turns out there was a play under review. Earler on, the top line of Vinny Prospal, Jeff Carter, and Rick Nash had generated some great chances. Turns out one of them was really great, as the Toronto officials were reviewing it. A Prospal pass to Carter in the slot resulted in a shot by #7. Upon further review, the shot hit the back crossbar of the goal and bounced out so quickly that no one had seen it go in. After the review, it was ruled a good goal. The Jackets had gotten on the board first.
1-0 Jackets: Jeff Carter (4th) at 12:42, from Vinny Prospal and Rick Nash - EV
Columbus forechecked pretty hard for most of the period, including a tussle that resulted in Derek Dorsett beating the ever-loving piss out of Francis Bouillon at the 16:04 mark. The Jackets had a scare late when the puck and David Legwand found their way into Curtis Sanford's crease, and after what seemed like an eternity a huge scrum built up and Columbus got the freeze whistle.
The Jackets went to the dressing room without giving up the dreaded "last minute goal" for a change. They outshot the Preds 10-4 in the period. It was a physical period with the teams racking up 25 combined hits (13 for the Jackets).
End of 1st Period: 1-0 Blue Jackets
The Predators, as you would expect, came out buzzing in the second. Columbus got caught flat footed a few times early, and nearly gave up a couple of goals. At the 6:25 mark Martin Erat got a good look and fired a quick shot, but Sanford was there to make a slick kick save.
Columbus weathered that early storm, and had a couple of nice chances of their own. At the 7:41 mark, the puck came out to Grant Clitsome at the left point, and he unleashed a bomb. Pekka Rinne was up to the task, and snagged it with his glove.
Finally, Columbus would be rewarded after some good work down low. Derick Brassard tied up a man on the right post as Jared Boll took the puck behind the net. He turned and fired a shot from the half-boards, and Rinne kicked out a rebound. Antoine Vermette was there to crash, and elevated the puck over Rinne's pad to make it 2-0 Jackets.
2-0 Jackets: Antoine Vermette (4th) at 10:49, from Jared Boll and Nikita Nikitin - EV
Columbus had a two goal lead, but of course it wouldn't last. After an icing call with 7:11 left, Scott Arniel elected to use his timeout. It didn't help. The Predators won the draw, and after a brief cycle Columbus tried to clear but failed. Bouillon sent a shot in from the point that Sanford stopped, but Sergei Kostitsyn was able to tip the rebound wide where an unchecked Mike Fisher bolted in and roofed it over Sanford as he tried to cover.
2-1 Jackets: Mike Fisher (6th) at 13:10, from Sergei Kostitsyn and Francis Bouillon - EV
The teams traded chances the rest of the way, and Columbus managed to head to the second intermission with a 2-1 lead for the third straight game. After two they were outshooting the Predators 18-11.
End of 2nd Period: 2-1 Blue Jackets
The question was whether or not Columbus would make it a different outcome than the previous two. Early on, it looked like they wanted it. Within the first 90 seconds, they would push the lead back to two. James Wisniewski would sent an outlet pass to Marc Methot, who feathered a gorgeous head-man pass to Dorsett. Dorse skated in alone on Rinne, and snapped of a wicked shot that beat the Preds' netminder high-glove.
3-1 Jackets: Derek Dorsett (6th) at 1:24, from Marc Methot and James Wisniewski - EV
Around the 6:00 mark, I worried out loud in the game thread that the Jackets might be content to go into a shell and play "dump and chase" for the last 14:00 or so. And while there was some of that, they didn't stop sending guys into the zone with the two goal lead. The extra breathing room afforded by Dorsett allowed them to continue pushing.
Brassard looked (not surprisingly) fresh throughout, and the entire second line was a handful for the Predators all night. In addition to Vermette's goal, they had several other good shifts and solid chances. What that means for Saturday for Brassard, well that's anyone's guess.
But, as we know, it's never over until it's over with this team. You might want to sit down for this part.
With 1:42 to go, Rinne went to the bench. The Predators got a faceoff in Columbus's zone, and brought the extra attacker on. You know how this is going to turn out. The Preds would win that draw back to Ryan Suter, who fed it over to Shea Weber. You never want to let Weber shoot, least of all in this situation. He unleashed the beast, and Patric Hornqvist got two cracks at the rebound, finally stuffing it home past Sanford.
3-2 Jackets: Patric Hornqvist (6th) at 18:24, from Shea Weber and Ryan Suter - EV (extra attacker)
Oh, but they weren't done. No no. After someone basically boarded Hornqvist after the goal (no call), 30 seconds later Samuel Pahlsson got nabbed for a cross-check. Or was it? Pahlsson pleaded total ignorance. Scott Arniel was more direct in his post-game assessment:
"A combination of: we didn't win any draws at the end in our end of the rink, allowed Weber to get that shot away on the first one, [and] a shitty make-up call by the referee that was horrendous on Sammy Pahlsson that's never been in a fight in his life; and he calls that call there."
The coach noted that they had chances to ice the puck on the PK and didn't do it. Boy, howdy. The Jackets managed to make it down to 19.9 seconds left and another key faceoff in their own end. Again, Nashville won the draw. It was quick. Martin Erat sent it to Suter at the point, Suter drifted to the center and sent it back to Erat, who fired a quick shot that was tipped in by Sergei Kostitsyn. Tie game, 12.1 seconds left.
3-3 Tie: Sergei Kostitsyn (4th) at 19:47, from Martin Erat and Ryan Suter - PPG (extra attacker)
Would there be any doubt about how this would turn out?
End of Regulation: 3-3 Tie
Overtime is always interesting. As Arniel noted, with so much open ice, "It has to be all visual. You can't throw stuff blind." Except, no one told Antoine Vermette that. He'd played a great game, and was bringing the puck deep on the left side early in the OT. Fedor Tyutin was coming in on the right side, and cut in toward the net thinking Vermette was going there. But Vermette was thinking Tyutin was coming in on the wall, and rimmed the puck all the way around.
The puck got past Tyutin and created a rush for the Predators the other way. Erat took it up the left wing, and crossed it to Colin Wilson, who beat Sanford with the one-timer.
4-3 Predators: Colin Wilson (7th) at 1:45, from Martin Erat - EV
Final Score: 4-3 Predators (OT)
- Derek Dorsett - Six goals. Third on the team in goals. Derek Dorsett. He made a heck of a play to beat Rinne and provide what should have been enough goals to win. He's having a career year. I'll eat some crow for some of the things I've written about him. Right now, he's one of the Jackets' best players.
- The 16--50--19 Line - Derick Brassard earned another night in on Saturday, in my opinion. He looked like the player I'd expect when playing with actual offensive-minded guys. I thought this line was the most consistent line on the night for Columbus.
Bottom of the Barrel:
- The Last Two Minutes - I don't think I can single any one player out. It was horrendous. Was the call on Pahlsson bad? Probably. Do you still have to sack up and play the last 1:06? You bet your ass. It's inexcusable to have lost this game. To keep hearing words like "fragile" and "rattled" after these games in description of the team, and to hear Scott Arniel say several different times some variation of "these are veteran players, they've all been in these situations before, and they need to make the right decisions in these situations," well, I don't have to tell you that it's pretty maddening.
- Officiating - Sure, I'll pile on. One minor penalty through the first 58+ minutes (a pretty obvious hook on Rick Nash by Francis Bouillon), and then to call THAT penalty on Pahlsson? As I said above, the Jackets still shouldn't have lost this game. But, it was a pretty weak call, at best.
They'd better not sulk for too long. The Bruins are coming on Saturday, and they're as hot as anyone right now.