Game 55 Recap: Back on Track

COLUMBUS OH - FEBRUARY 11: Derick Brassard #16 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is able to flip the puck over Peter Budaj #31 and John-Michael Liles #4 both of the Colorado Avalanche to score during the second period on February 11 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
The Columbus Blue Jackets have turned into a real gritty hockey club. There have been ups and downs this season, but make no mistake the Jackets are a club that remains hungry and with one vision: Playoff Hockey. Friday night was another example of the Jackets digging deep at the right time and having it pay off as Columbus upended the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 in front of 16,408 fans at Nationwide Arena.

Peter Forsberg returned to the Avalanche lineup after an absence of nearly three years. The night could have very easily turned into a media frenzy had Forsberg immediately paid dividends. The former Hart Trophy winner was held scoreless even though he compiled over 17 minutes of ice time in his return to the NHL. The night however belonged to the Jackets, courtesy of Captain Rick Nash.

Nash showed once again why he is among the best players in the game. After an R.J. Umberger turnover led to a clean breakaway goal by former Jacket draftee, Philippe Dupuis at the 15:54 mark of the first period, Mathieu Garon became the story in the nets for the Jackets.

Just past the seven minute mark of the second period, Fedor Tyutin passed up through the neutral zone to a streaking Jakub Voracek. Jake made a razor sharp rink wide pass to Nash who blasted a one timer to beat Peter Budaj on the short side and tie the game at one.

Nash's persistence paid off when seven minutes later, he fought for a loose puck behind the Colorado goal and one handed a soft pass out front to a streaking Derick Brassard. Brass held back from making a one timer, opting to let Budaj commit and worked around him, finishing the play with as pretty a goal as you're going to see.

The game featured plenty of hard hitting and the chippy play also led to three fights. Jared Boll tangled with Cody McLeod in the first period. Boll then squared off with David Koci early in the middle stanza. Finishing up the fisticuffs were Derek Dorsett who went with Daniel Winnik also in the second period. DD left the ice later in the game exhibiting what Coach Scott Arniel would later describe as "all the symptoms are there" for a concussion. We'll have more on Dorsett's condition when it becomes available.

Celebrating his 100th game as a Blue Jacket, Derek MacKenzie closed out the scoring with an empty net goal with four seconds remaining to give the Jackets are hard earned two points.

Standard Bearers:

Rick Nash - This was clearly the Captain's night. Skating assertively all night long, this is what Rick needs to bring to the lineup down the stretch if the Jackets want to see playoff action this season.

Mathieu Garon - Backup goalies have it tough. They can sit on the bench, watching games for weeks at a time, then whenever it's their turn, they need to step in and play a difficult position with the same expectations as the first stringer. Tonight, Garon played well and was key in the Jackets winning this hockey game.

Derick Brassard - Brass lit the lamp with the GWG. It was a beauty, no if's and's or but's about it.

Bottom of the Barrel:

I couldn't honestly hang the "BoB" tag on anybody tonight. There were mistakes made sure, but the team managed to pull it all together to take two valuable points. The hype around Forsberg's return was overdone and would qualify as "BoB" material.

The Jackets return to the ice this Sunday afternoon at 3PM when they take on the Dallas Stars in The Big D.


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