In a season full of disappointments, tonight had to be one of the worst.
For a vast majority of this game, the Jackets were the dominant team. It was the best we'd seen them all season. For most of the second and third periods, it was like watching a different team all together. There was confidence, a touch of swagger, and for a fleeting moment I forgot that the Jackets were the worst team in the league.
The Jackets made one mistake in the first period, when Gregory Campbell attempted to force a pass in front of his own net, but instead put it on the stick blade of Kyle Okposo. Okposo made no mistake in wiring it past Columbus starter Curtis McElhinney.
The team responded well to the goal against, kicking off a stretch of dominant play that lasted almost to the final whistle. There were a few penalties called on the home team that killed momentum, the first of which was my most-hated play in hockey. Early in the second Ryan Strome attempted to play a puck near the boards, crouching/lunging to do so. Andrew Bodnarchuk was already committed to checking Strome as this happened, with the result being a cheesy boarding call. The player getting his in this situation must be responsible- if you put your head at elbow level you're going to get a nasty result.
After a hit on Brandon Dubinsky behind the net (that really should have resulted in a penalty call) the puck made its way to Boone Jenner, who muscled his way out from behind the goal line. Jenner sent the puck to the front of the net, where Brandon Saad was parked. The puck redirected off Saad's skate, and after review was determined to be a good goal.
With the game tied Strome drew another penalty, this time going down far too easy at the hands of Kevin Connauton. On the powerplay, the Islanders shot the puck, beating McElhinney at the top of his crease, but not Savard, who was behind him. Savard made the save, but McElhinney knocked the puck into the net.
The Jackets remained focused on the primary task, and didn't let up in their pressure. It was a damned shame they couldn't convert on one of their many opportunities, but they finally broke through to tie the game. Alexander Wennberg, who's been excellent the past few games, carried the puck through the neutral zone, passing to Scott Hartnell inside the blueline. Hartnell fired a pass cross-ice to Savard, who teed it up for Cam Atkinson. Cam's one-timer beat Halak.
With 48 seconds left in regulation, the Jackets thought they took the lead. Johansen lugged the puck up-ice, passing to Saad. Saad carried, before sending the puck to the front of the net. In a bit of a scramble, the puck crossed the goal line, and was called a goal by the officials. It was sent for review, however, and despite the appearance that Travis Hamonic's stick knocked the puck over the goal line, it was determined that Jenner's skate kicked the puck over. I've watched the replay many times, and based on the trajectory of the puck as it goes over the line, it definitely seems like it was a result of Hamonic's stick hitting it, rather than a sweeping action of Boone's skate. Toronto disagreed.
With that, it was off to overtime. The Jackets first deployed a trio of Dubinsky-Atkinson-Murray, with the latter having a solid chance on-net. The next group was Johansen-Saad-Johnson, who were sloppy as all hell with the puck. With all three tight on Halak, the puck was turned over, springing the Isles on a 2-on-0. Josh Bailey dropped the puck to Okposo, who turned to his backhand to beat McElhinney.
FINAL SCORE: 3-2 Islanders (OT)
ADVANCED STATS: War on Ice
This loss was one of the worst I can remember, from an emotional perspective. I mean, the Jackets were just so damned dominant for most of the game! They looked lethal again, but just couldn't catch a break. When Atkinson scored to tie it, they had all the momentum in their favor to grab the lead and seal the deal.
The Jenner call-back will be debated for a short time, but it doesn't change anything. The Jackets couldn't convert on their opportunities and remain in the basement of the league.