Game 31 Recap: An Unexpected Shootout

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sport

Prior to this game, many thought this would be a low-scoring affair. It turned out to be just the opposite.

While the Jackets were in Pittsburgh last night taking on the Penguins, the Devils were in Columbus, in advance of tonight`s game. The Devils would be the more rested squad, and it the Jackets had to prevent the visitors from setting the pace early.

That lasted all of 32 seconds.Travis Zajac skated more or less uncontested down the wing, before beating Curtis McElhinney with a wrister to the far side. McElhinney wasn`t square to Zajac, putting the goal in the `he`d like to have that one back` territory.

1-0 Devils: Zajac- Boucher, Jagr

The Devils were in full control in the opening period, winning nearly every battle, showing more hustle, and coming close to taking a two-goal lead off the stick of Zajac again, if not for an acrobatic save by McElhinney.

The Jackets got a bit of luck later in the period. As a sign of things to come, the line of Brandon Dubinsky, Cam Atkinson and Matt Calvert put in a solid shift, and were rewarded with a goal. Dubinsky threw the puck on-net with Martin Brodeur making the initial save. The puck was kicked right off of the skate of Atkinson however, redirecting into the net, leveling the score,

1-1: Atkinson- Dubinsky

The goal did little to swing the momentum in Columbus` favor, and the Devils continued to dictate the pace. A Dalton Prout turnover led to the Devils taking the lead midway through the opening frame, with Michael Ryder potting a rebound past McElhinney.

2-1 Devils: Ryder- Henrique, Bernier

The first period gave an indication that the Jackets were fatigued from their game the night before, and it seemed the rout was on early in the middle frame. Patrick Elias, one of the ageless wonders on the New Jersey roster, gathered the puck below the goal line. He fed a perfect pass to the front of the net, where a streaking Damien Brunner was there to fire the puck into the net.

3-1 Devils: Brunner- Elias, Zubrus

The aforementioned Dubinsky line was already on the board with a goal, but the trio really turned it on after the Brunner marker. With a faceoff in the Devils` zone, Dubinsky won the faceoff back to Jack Johnson, who blasted the puck on-net. Everybody was whacking at the rebound left in the slot by Brodeur, but it was Dubinsky who managed to get enough of it to poke it into the net.

3-2 Devils: Dubinsky- Atkinson, Johnson

The Jackets were buzzing. Just 49 seconds after Dubinsky cut the deficit to one goal, Cam Atkinson scored his second of the game to tie things at three goals apiece. The goal was typical of the line that scored it-

1) Calvert first guy in on the forecheck, establishes possession.

2) Dubinsky sets up shop behind the net, good stickwork frees him up to set up a linemate.

3) Dubinsky finds Atkinson, parked in a prime scoring spot in front of the net. Atkinson makes no mistake.

3-3: Atkinson- Dubinsky, Murray

The two quick goals gave the Jackets life, and they carried the play for the remainder of the second period. They had a late powerplay thanks to Brunner and his beak getting called for tripping, and though they didn`t convert they had all the momentum heading into the second intermission.

Just 18 seconds into the final frame, the Dubinsky line was at it again. Dubinsky carried the puck in on Brodeur, firing a backhand on-net. The puck was stopped, but the rebound went to the stick of Calvert for the Jackets` first lead of the night.

4-3 Jackets: Calvert- Dubinsky, Atkinson

We`re all excited to see how the lineup looks when Marian Gaborik and Nathan Horton are healthy,  but the Jackets will have some decisions to make. The line of the Atkinverts and Dubinsky look very good together, and were hugely productive against the Devils. The line of Ryan Johansen, Nick Foligno and R.J. Umberger has been hot, with the former two players heading toward career years. Artem Anisimov has been playing with a rotating set of wingers, but the Jackets` two prize forwards are both right wingers...

Food for thought.

Midway through the period Anisimov thought he had given the Jackets a two goal lead, going as far as throwing his hands in the air. Alas, his shot beat the goaltender but not the post.

The real fatigue started to set in during the second half of the third period. The Jackets were sitting back on their one-goal lead, and the Devils started their push. It was only a matter of time before New Jersey tied the game up, with Brunner scoring his second of the game.

4-4: Brunner: Elias, Greene

Prevent defense only prevents you from winning.

So as it not waste a phenomenal night from his cohorts on the AtkinDubiVert line, Ryan Johansen, who`s in the midst of a breakout season, fired the puck on net with 91 seconds left in regulation. The puck redirected off of the skate of Nick Foligno, who was given credit for the game winning goal.

5-4 Jackets: Foligno- Johansen, Umberger

Final Score: 5-4 Jackets

For the advanced stats for tonight`s game, click HERE.

Standard Bearers:

  • The line of Dubinsky, Atkinson and Calvert was just terrific.
  • Ryan Johansen, for taking it upon himself to win the game.

Bottom of the Barrel:

  • The Jackets came out with the victory, and while fatigue could have partially been to blame, there were long stretches when the Jackets were severely outplayed.

The Jackets are back in action Thursday night against Rick Nash and his Rangers.

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