After two shutout victories for Mathieu Garon, you knew the veteran goaltender would eventually come back down to Earth a bit, and so he did against the Wild at Nationwide Arena on Saturday.
Both teams started slow after a rather weak fight between Matt Kassian and Jared Boll, but the Jackets penalty issues gave Minnesota a chance to open the scoring with their power play when Kyle Wilson went to the box for a goalie interference call. Though the PK initially did a good job of forcing the Wild back into their zone, Matt Cullen would skate the puck through all three zones without a challenge from Pahlsson, Methot, Clark, or Klesla before passing off late to a wide open Brent Burns, who faked right, skated left, and had a wide open net to shoot into, ending Garon's shutout streak at just under 143 minutes.
A few minutes later, in the dying seconds of another PK, the Jackets were able to respond, with Rusty Klesla taking the puck out of the zone, performing a great drop-pass to Derick Brassard, who set up Rick Nash with a great tape to tape feed to beat Theodore at the side of the net and tying the game.
The Jackets would continue to drive up the pressure in the second period, getting a go-ahead goal from Kyle Wilson at 5:45 when Jared Boll got the puck free in the Jackets' zone, passed up to Marc Methot who skated into the neutral zone and opened Wilson up just above the right circle, who banged the goal past Jose Theodore.
The Jackets would hammer another 16 shots at the Wild keeper in the second period, and was well on the way to holding the Wild without a shot, but Theodore was able to repulse every attempt.
At the 14 minute mark of the second period, Rusty Klesla found himself in the box for a high stick, and the Wild once again drew even with their power play. Controlling off the face off, the Wild made several passes that the PK unit could not break up before Brent Burns smoked a shot from the point that Garon never had a chance to stop, and despite only taking three shots in the second period, they were tied 2-2 going into the third.
The third was a tense affair, with each team successfully killing a penalty, and it almost seemed like it might turn into an OT game when Cal Clutterbuck slammed Jakub Voracek to the ice behind the Jackets net as he chased a puck, sending it squirting around the crease. The defense expected it to go off the boards, but Clutterbuck was able to grab the puck and flip it back past a surprised Garon, scoring on the broken play.
The Jackets would spend the remaining 9 minutes attempting to find a way to solve Theodore again, but to no avail - the Wild would take the victory, and the Jackets would be left with a sense of frustration.
- Kyle Wilson - Even in a loss, Wilson continues to impress. His speed and quick hands created the 2-1 goal, and he played a strong night, even flipping up to the 2nd line for part of the third period in an attempt to get the offense firing.
- Derick Brassard - Brass' hustle was on clear display, and his pass to Nash for the shorthanded goal was a work of art.
- R.J. Umberger - He wasn't able to beat Theodore, but he was working like hell tonight - and he gets a bonus point for being honest in the post game interviews about the lack of goal scoring being a problem tonight.
Bottom Of The Barrel:
- Mathieu Garon - It wasn't a terrible loss, but I felt like this was a game where Garon wasn't able to make the big stop - the opening PPG from Burns being perhaps the biggest example, and he was caught looking on the GWG as well. The defense generally did a good job of keeping traffic away from Garon, but he wasn't able to make the stops tonight the way he was able to against Montreal and Atlanta.
- Jared Boll - Despite doing a good job drawing the puck away for Wilson's goal, Boll's staged fight less than 2 minutes into the game with Kassian was pointless. All it did was fire up the Wild and it felt like a waste of effort. I suspect the coaches agreed - Boll spent more time in the box tonight than he did on the ice.
- Antoine Vermette - Vermette had some beautiful chances tonight and nothing was going in. I don't know what the problem is, but he's horribly snakebit. We need him (and Filatov, and Umberger) to get sparked up here. The Jackets NEEDED a goal from this line tonight in the worst way.
- PK - The Wild's PP is deadly, but our PK gave them too many opportunities to use it. The more I watch replays of the Wild's power play goals, it feels like the Jackets weren't getting in and disrupting their plays the way the PK unit had been doing so effectively in the last two games. Passes were sailing across ice without sticks trying to break them up, and players had an opportunity to skate around defenders instead of being challenged.
All things considered, this was not a terrible game. It was a loss, but not a wretched one. It simply felt like a game where the team couldn't find a way through despite doing a lot of the right things. There will be days like this. The important thing is how they respond against St. Louis on Wednesday.