Columbus welcomed former captain Rick Nash back to Nationwide arena on Friday night and, judging by the reception he received every time he touched the puck, there was no love lost from the fans with regard to the man who holds all of the franchise scoring records. How would the game unfold, though? Let’s see.
Well, the first period … was hockey. That’s about all there is to say about that. The game started slowly, kept going slowly, and the first period finished slowly. In between, Jack Johnson continued his poor play of late, taking a high sticking penalty for whacking Nash in the face. The Blue Jackets looked very good killing the penalty off. Minutes later, the Jackets were on a power play of their own, as Nash went off for tripping Boone Jenner. The power play was less than stellar, and never managed to set up in the offensive zone. With 3:26 left in the period, William Karlsson let a slap shot fly from the top of the circles, and he beat Henrik Lundqvist through the 5 hole.
After 20 minutes of hockey, it was 1-0 Jackets.
Well, there were some shots in this period. Columbus extended their lead with 14:23 remaining in the second, Sam Gagner took the pass after Matt Calvert buried it to double the lead for Columbus. Shortly after, Calvert blocked a shot with his face, and after bleeding all over (seriously, it was gross), went to the locker room under his own power. Hopefully he is okay and it’s nothing serious. He didn’t look like he was in great shape, but at least he was skating. Right after losing Calvert, Michael Grabner would pick Murray’s pocket and score to make it 2-1 with 8:56 remaining. That would be all of the scoring for the period. Torts was visibly upset with Murray on the bench, who has played very poorly this season.
After 40 minutes of hockey, it was 2- Jackets.
Buckle up, this gets wild.
First of all, Matt Calvert made it out for his first shift of the third period. Of course he did. Matt Calvert is 187 pounds per the media guide, and 185 of that is heart. After allowing a too-easy goal as 4 skaters were puck watching, the Jackets had a gut check moment. The Jackets were on their heels a bit, taking a penalty and going down a man to a high flying Rangers squad. And then, well, poetic justice. Who else but Matt Calvert scored the first shorthanded goal of the season for Columbus. 3-2, and pandemonium in the stands. After some nervy moments at the end, Boone Jenner iced it at the 19:59 mark to make it 4-2. Game.
New York Rangers 2 Columbus Blue Jackets 4
Matt Calvert. I don’t even know what to say. He was +3 on the night, played 12:39 after taking a puck in the face, and had the game winning short handed goal. Holy cow. He was out of this world tonight, and it was awesome to see him fight through adversity and lead the team to a win. He is one of the heart and soul leaders of this team, letter or not, and deserves all of the accolades heaped on him after this one.
Also, tonight marked a franchise record with the seventh straight home win. This team currently sits in a wild card position with games in hand. Everything is on the table for this team.
Most of all, this team is awesome to watch. Just … they’re fun. They work, they hustle, they show heart every shift.
This might be my favorite group in club history.
On to Sunday. Go Jackets.