Game 78 Recap: Punch to the Gut

Kirk Irwin

The Jackets hung in there. At times they dominated. Blackhawks still won. Uggh.

I took some time before I wrote this recap.

I've mentioned before my process: watch the game closely, takes notes, bang out a recap.

Usually I attempt to assemble a narrative as the game goes on, something I can cling to when writing the recap. Maybe there's a better way, but alas, I'm a blogger and my day job is that of a Project Manager in the Commissioning / Construction industry.

The final score of this game was 4-3 for the Blackhawks, in regulation.

It may not be detrimental to the Jackets making the playoffs, but it certainly hurt.

There were a few headlines prior to the game. Ryan Murray was making his return from injury, both teams played last night (and both were victorious), the 'Hawks were without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and the Jackets were a single point back of Detroit for the first wildcard spot, and two back of Philadelphia for third in the Eastern Conference.

The first period was all-Jackets. They looked elite. Just 92 seconds into the game, Columbus had the lead. R.J. Umberger, who by the way has looked quite good when in the lineup of late, fired a shot on-net from the left wing. Chicago starter Antti Raanta kicked out a huge rebound, where a streaking Derek MacKenzie was there to deposit the rebound into the net.

1-0 Jackets: MacKenzie - Umberger, Boll

Columbus would go on the powerplay twice in the period, and though they showed great movement on both man-advantages, they couldn't pot one.

Though the Jackets carried the play for the first period, the 'Hawks were able to sneak one past Sergei Bobrovsky. Seconds after a missed high-sticking call on Matt Calvert, Chicago moved up-ice, with Jeremy Morin firing a low, hard wrister on-net through traffic. Bob didn't see it.

1-1: Morin - Rozsival, Sharp

The Jackets had a handufl of great chances to close out the first, but no joy.

As they did in the first period, the Jackets found the back of the net shortly after the opening faceoff. Brandon Dubinsky, who had a strong game, made it as far as the goal line before finding Ryan Johansen with a pass as the latter entered the zone. Johansen uncorked a wicked wrister, beating Raanta.

2-1 Jackets: Johansen - Dubinsky, Atkinson.

Later in the period, Jared Boll saw an opportunity to set the physical tone, and he did just that with a big hit on Peter Regin. In typical new-NHL fashion, Boll immediatly had to drop the gloves for delivering a hard, clean hit, with Brian Bickell stepping up for the 'Hawks. Bickell was obviously not keen on fighting Boll, rather he felt an obligation to do so. Bullshit. The linesmen saved Bickell from a pounding.

Boll was given an interference penalty for the hit on Regin, and on the ensuing powerplay, the 'Hawks tied the game. On a failed clear, Duncan Keith kept the puck in, before sliding it over to Patrick Sharp. Sharp wound up, and fired a slapper, beating Bob.

2-2: Sharp - Keith

There was terrific pace to end the second period, with the teams trading goals.

3-2 Blackhawks: Hossa - Versteeg. Keith

3-3: Anisimov - Wisniewski, Johnson

The third period was terribly fun.

There was a playoff feel to the game in the third, with intense pace and the refs swallowing their whistles. That was, until very late in the third period.

One of the linesman called too-many-men on the Jackets. After a quick count of the players on-ice, it was proven that they only had four skaters on the ice. The faceoff was moved to Columbus' zone.

With 3.7 seconds left, after Bob made a save off his glove, instead of a save in his glove, the loose puck was banged into the net to win it for the visitors.

4-3 Blackhawks: Smith - Keith, Seabrook

Apparently the puck was cleared off a Columbus player on the bench, so the faceoff would have been in their end anyway, but at any rate, this one sucked.

Final Score: 4-3 Blackhawks

Standard Bearers:

  • I loved the way the 17-42-13 line looked tonight. More please.
  • Boone Jenner had a hell of a game.
  • Ryan Johansen was the best player on the ice.
  • Props to Ryan Murray, who didn't miss a beat after returning from injury.

Bottom of the Barrel:

  • Bob, you are the team's MVP. You are an elite goaltender. I wish to hell you could have caught that puck in your trapper though bro.
  • Matt Frattin can't go from continuous healthy scratch to Johansen's right winger. I just don't like it.

For the advanced stats for this game, check out Extra Skater

The Jackets will look to exact some revenge on the Islanders when they face them at home on Sunday.

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