SPOILER ALERT: This game went to a shootout.
I freaking hate the shootout.
There's no nicer way to say it. I used to like it, when it was new and exciting, but lately it's basically turned into a coin flip that always seems to come up "tails" when it matters. I much prefer OT - there's still tension and frustration, but at least it's still a team game at that point, instead of a hockey version of H-O-R-S-E.
Last night did not do much to change my opinion.
From the start, the game was messy, angry, and complicated.
Patrik Berglund opened the scoring in the first two minutes, capitaliizing on a turnover by Kyle Wilson and firing from the high slot to beat Steve Mason 5-hole.
At the ensuing faceoff, Chris Stewart decided to reinforce the message of the early goal by dropping his gloves with Derek Dorsett. Then, on the next faceoff, Jared Boll and Cam Janssen went after each other in a textbook slobberknocker, probably one of the best fights Boll has even been in.
Then, just because we clearly hadn't hit our FDA recommended allowance of knuckle sandwiches, Craig Rivet took exception to a cheap shot from David Backes and dropped the gloves with him.
Finally, after all the blood and dust settled, the boys got back to playing some hockey, and this time the Jackets would be on top, first from Jakub Voracek taking a feed from Nash after the captain was denied on a stuff attempted, grabbed his own rebound, and back-doored a pass to Jake in the slot, who burned it past Ty Conklin.
Then, less than a minute later, the Cavalry arrived as Calvert rushed up ice with R.J. Umberger, passed off to Umby for a shot, then grabbed a long rebound and deposited it into the open net.
Just to put the English on, with Ian Cole in the box for holding, Antoine Vermette won the faceoff for the ensuing power play, kicking the puck back to Grant Clitsome for a cross ice setup to Tyutin, and Fedor bombed it in from the blue line for a 3-1 lead, and Ty Conklin's evening was done.
The Blues took energy from Ben Bishop's arrival in the crease, and took advantage when Kris Russell was sent to the box on a tripping call, with Andy McDonald grabbing a rebound that Methot and Tyutin were unable to get out of the crease following a Chris Stewart shot from the top of the crease.
Even worse, Rick Nash would then be whistled for a penalty immediately after the goal, and T.J. Oshie would tie the game after poking away at Steve Mason until the puck popped into the net, despite Mason appearing to have it trapped under his body for a good 3-4 seconds with no whistle.
Unlike the Blues, Scott Arniel made the decision to trust Mason in net, but his paitence had to have been tested when Andy McDonald got his second goal of the night early in the second period. A bad clearing attempt by Methot lead to McDonald grabbing the puck, rushing back into the zone, and stuffing it past Mason's leg pad and the post.
The Jackets would tie it back up quickly, however, with Rick Nash charging in with Derek MacKenzie and firing the puck from the top of the circles past Bishop - initially the goal was credited to Nash, but on review it became clear that MacKenzie had redirected it home in the crease, giving him his 5th goal of the year. Jake Voracek also picked up an assist for his second point of the night.
Despite both goaltenders making some bad turnovers (and some improbable saves), the third period solved nothing, and the bad blood continued into OT, but the Jackets could not capitalize on a pair of third period power plays and one beautiful rush in OT by Vermette, and the game would head to the skills competition.
Neither goalie really looked distinguished - Mason got beaten 5 hole by Oshie and McDonald - but Rick Nash and Fedor Tyutin kept the Jackets alive, and it would go to an extra round of shooters. Alexander Steen would beat Mason low again, and Bishop managed a kick save on Vermette, and the Blues walked away with the extra point, and plenty more anger for the rematch in Columbus on Wednesday night.
Final Score: Blues 5 - Jackets 4 (SO)
- Rick Nash - Despite not getting much in the way of calls, even when he got dropped to the ice with a couple of nasty trips, the Captain did his best to take the game on his back tonight, including a gorgeous shootout goal.
- Matt Calvert - His hustle is infectious. It feels like keeping him together with Vermette and Umberger is making that line much more dangerous.
- Jake Voracek - Though he wasn't able to come up with a couple more chances to score tonight, he still had a big early goal and the assist on the tying mark.
- Craig Rivet - Rivet was in the lineup tonight for his toughness / grit, and it showed. He got into several scrums in addition to his fight, and clearly wasn't putting up with any mischief.
Bottom Of The Barrel:
- Steve Mason - Where is the Mason of February? What changed? Did we let Dave Rook take the month off or something? Did he forget that he can close his 5 hole?
- Marc Methot - I like Marc a lot, and he's been one of our anchor d-men, but it was not a good game for him tonight. Bad decisions on the PK, bad turnover leading to a goal, and generally didn't look comfortable paired with Tyutin tonight.
- PK - Back to back PK failures let the Blues back into a game they had no business being in.
One point was not enough - and two points in 5 games certainly wasn't good enough. There are still games in hand left, and there is still just under a quarter of a season to play, but the Jackets have to get their heads out...and there needs to be a heaping helping of payback waiting for the Blues when they come to visit later this week. About the only good news is that Nashville, Anaheim, LA, and Minnesota have all dropped their last game or two as well.