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Game 17 Recap: Stealin’ Home

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NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

(We apologize for the extremely late recap due to some scheduling confusion. The people responsible for the subtitles have been sacked.)

For most of Monday night’s game against the visiting Avalanche, the narrative seemed to be writing itself.

With Curtis McElhinney in net, the Blue Jackets struck first thanks to the line of Cam Atkinson, Brandon Saad, and Brandon Dubinsky swarming the Colorado net and raising hell, with Cam finally tipping in a deflection after Varlamov went swimming in the crease in a desperate attempt to freeze the puck.

In fact, the Blue Jackets were all over the Avalanche for most of the first period, though they were unable to convert, keeping the pressure off their backup goaltender and making good transition work happen.

The second period was less so. Perhaps feeling some fatigue from Sunday’s matinee, perhaps just becoming overconfident, the Jackets allowed Colorado to assert themselves after Alexander Wennberg ruined his Lady Byng campaign by taking his second penalty of the year, and it wasn’t long before Tyson Barrie would tie the game on a shot from the point that was initially credited to former Blue Jacket Rene Bourque, just to add insult to injury.

Energized by the goal, Colorado would take the lead on a snapshot by Erik Johnson that actually hit the back of the net so hard that it bounced back out and landed in C-Mac’s lap as the goal light went on.

The Blue Jackets would get their own power play opportunity late in the second period, and appeared to have tied the game thanks to a beautiful pass from Brandon Saad to set up Boone Jenner’s one-timer, but after review it was determined that Scott Hartnell had interfered with Varlamov, and the Jackets would go into the locker room trailing by a goal after 40 minutes.

The third period was where the narrative really seemed to be taking shape, as the Jackets poured every piece of rubber they could find at the Colorado net, and Varlamov swallowed it up effortlessly. “Too little, too late, too many second period mistakes” was likely written in most of the beat writer’s notebooks, but then, something unexpected happened.

Cycling the puck in the offensive zone, with McElhinney sitting on the bench for an extra attacker, Nick Foligno put the puck over to Atkinson, who roofed a perfect shot over Varlamov’s shoulder and into the back of the net with just 6.5 seconds left in regulation, and turning a frustrating loss into a sudden opportunity for an OT victory.

As the OT ended up working out, the Avalanche would win after Erik Johnson threaded a pass on the fly through both Nick Foligno and Zach Werenski’s sticks, giving Matt Duchene a tap-in at the side of the net, but this game had a lot of value regardless of the slightly disappointing result.

Recovering a point from a game that seemed lost.

Never surrendering in the third period despite the seemingly fruitless efforts.

Not allowing the disallowed goal to trigger a collapse. Not backing down. Not giving up.

These aren’t things we’re used to seeing around here...but it’s slowly becoming the new normal.

That’s a victory worth far more than the point the Blue Jackets left on the table.