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Stealing a Win

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Columbus was held scoreless for 57 minutes of the game, and won anyway.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Well. If you had told me, halfway through the second period, that Columbus would win this game, I would have laughed in your face. Let’s see why, shall we?

Matt Calvert returned to the lineup after missing 5 games with a concussion. Curtis McElhinney got the start, giving Sergei Bobrovsky a deserved night off. All of CMac’s starts have gone to overtime, for what it’s worth.

Boone Jenner opened the scoring 13 seconds into the game. Jack Johnson fed him on a nice rush after the opening faceoff, and he was able to put the puck past Mike Smith. 1-0 to Columbus. Little did we know, Mike Smith was about to turn into Superman.

Columbus dominated much of the first period, setting up shop in the Arizona zone, and generating 10 shots on goal to Arizona’s lone shot. Unfortunately, Columbus then decided they’d rather spend their evening in the penalty box. Two consecutive delay of game penalties (one against Josh Anderson, one against Nick Foligno) allowed the Coyotes to find their legs. Mike Smith was penalized for illegally playing the puck, nullifying the latter penalty. Nick Foligno was again dinged for sloppy stickwork, as he went off late in the period for hooking. It was a veritable parade to the box, and it was frustrating to see. Columbus had been dominating, and yet thanks to self inflicted wounds, had allowed Arizona to stay in the game.

Still, after one period, Columbus led 1-0.

The second period began with more of the same. Brandon Saad went off for slashing. This time, Arizona capitalized, and Radim Vrbata hammered home the equalizer. After an extended run of play in the Blue Jackets defensive zone, Josh Anderson got out on a breakaway, but was denied and then tripped into Mike Smith, who was very unhappy.

It cannot be overstated how well Mike Smith played in this game. He made a Coyotes franchise record 57 saves in this game. That’s insane. He kept the Coyotes in it for long stretches.

Anyway. Arizona scored to take the lead on a tip-in by Shane Doan midway through the second. A deserved lead for the Coyotes at the break, 2-1.

In the third period Columbus poured on the pressure, but struggled to solve Smith. 20+ shots for the boys in blue tonight, including a 5 on 3 advantage (that was totally wasted). It appeared to just be one of those nights.

That is, however, until Brandon Saad flung a backhand pass into the slot, where Alexander Wennberg picked it up and slotted it home. Tie game, 2-2. One thing you can say about this team - they never say die.

In overtime, there were chances galore. Both teams made outstanding saves, including a brilliant sequence by Curtis McElhinney midway through the overtime period.

As we went to a shootout, Cam Atkinson and Sam Gagner scored, Mac kept his net clean, and the Jackets stole one from Mike Smith and the Coyotes.

FINAL: COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS 3 ARIZONA COYOTES 2

Final Thoughts

The special teams, in my mind, need to be tweaked. The power play has gone 0-4 and 0-5 in the last few weeks, and the penalty kill has looked disjointed at best. That has to get fixed.

The penalties. Dear Jobu above, the penalties. Play disciplined. I know this team is better than taking approximately 200 penalty minutes like they did last night. The captain in particular has to know better.

4 points on the western road trip though? I’ll take it every time.

On to the next one. Go Jackets.