In addition to the game being the home debut of Nathan Horton, Matt Calvert made his return to the lineup. This, combined with the loss of Blake Comeau to injury led to a reshuffling of the lines. The duo of Artem Anisimov and Horton remained together, now joined by rookie Boone Jenner. Jenner would go on to have a big impact early, scoring the game's opening goal.
The opening three-quarters of the first period can be summarized in one statement- plodding. From an entertainment perspective- it just wasn't. It was like watching two teams that had never played each other, like they were feeling each other out. There was a complete lack of flow for most of the opening frame on both sides, with the first decent scoring chance not occurring until just past the midway point of the period. Nick Foligno took a beauty feed, all alone in front of the net, but clanked the puck off the pipe.
David Savard has been terrific lately, but he had a shift to forget in the opening frame. In addition to turning the puck over to Jeff Skinner in the defensive zone, he blew a tire in his own end moments later, but luckily in both situations no harm was done.
The barn was quiet, thanks to the slow, sloppy pace until the 15:00 mark, when the Jackets erupted for a pair of goals, 1:10 apart. The first goal was thanks to a forced turnover by Nathan Horton on the goal line to Anton Khudobin's left. Horton pressured the Carolina defender, who misplayed the puck to the stick of Jenner, who was alone in the slot. Boone made no mistake.
1-0 Jackets: Jenner - Unassisted
The second goal saw Cam Atkinson as the first Jacket across the Carolina blueline, feeding a streaking Brandon Dubinsky on the left wing. Dubinsky fired off a hard wrister, beating Khudobin.
2-0 Jackets: Dubinsky - Atkinson, Tyutin
The quick goals gave the Jackets life, and the intensity to close the period was ratcheted up. This was evident in a beauty hip check delivered on Tuomo Ruutu by Jack Johnson. If you've been watching the Jackets since the start of 2014, you know that Jack has been a man possessed, having a very strong impact.
The second period, like most of the first, can be summarized in one statement, though rather than plodding, the second can be described as simply BOB.
Fresh off being named to the home nation Russian squad at the Sochi Olympics, Sergei Bobrovsky kept the 'Canes off the scoreboard in the middle period. His best save was a framed glove save with 13:29 left, but he stood tall as Carolina ramped up their attack.
The speed of the game was decidedly faster in the middle period, and though the 'Canes had the Jackets hemmed in their own end for stretches, the Jackets held them off. Bob to the rescue.
To start the third period, it was clear both teams were finally ready to bring their best, and in the Jackets' case, they wanted to seal the deal.
A huge opportunity came 2:17 in, when R.J. Umberger had his beak chopped by Brett Bellemore. Granted, Umby's got a huge squawker, but nonetheless he took a fresh one, that drew blood, giving the Jackets a four-minute powerplay. The first half of the man advantage was ugly, but all was forgotten with less than thirty seconds left on the powerplay, when Cam Atkinson scored to put the good guys up by trips.
The goal was a beauty. Mark Letestu, who has been very good of late, by the way, had the puck on the left boards in the Carolina zone. He fed CamJam with a terrific backhand pass at the hash marks, at which point Cam fired a shot, beating Khudobin.
3-0 Jackets: Atkinson - Letestu, Murray
Horton, who was generally quiet for most of the game, looked to give the home town crowd a taste of what he can offer late in third. Though it looked like he was pressing a bit, he did come particularly close to scoring, beating Khudobin, but not the post, with a hard wrister.
The second period was about Bob playing great. The third period was about Bob playing PHENOMENAL. Quite simply, those in attendance and watching the game on a screen were treated to a performance indicative of why he is the reigning Vezina trophy winner.
Thanks to a Nikita Nikitin interference call, compounded by an Anisimov over-the-glass call, the Jackets were down two men. No matter though, Bob stood tall.
With a little over two minutes remaining, and the 'Canes pressing hard, no matter. Bob was there, making save, after save, after save.
In the final seconds of the game, with the ' Canes throwing everything they had at the Columbus net to break the shutout...again, Bob.
A Dubinsky/Nate Gerbe scuffle rounded out the action.
FINAL SCORE: 3-0 Jackets
1) Sergei Bobrovsky was Vezina-caliber. Huge
2) Camsanity was in full-effect tonight. He was absolutely buzzing tonight.
3) Boone looked like a great fit with Arty and Horton.
4) Bob, 'cause why not?
BOTTOM OF THE BARREL
1) That's a negative Ghost Rider.
ADVANCED STATS FOR THE GAME: EXTRA SKATER
The Jackets are back in action tomorrow night in Winnipeg against the Jets.