When our great-great-great-great space grandchildren crack open their virtual sports almanacs and look back on Friday night’s Columbus Blue Jackets win against the Winnipeg Jets, all that will matter is the 2-1 overtime final score. They won’t need to know about the 10 total goalless power plays (six for Winnipeg), the extremely long scoreless stretch, the missed shots, the possibly dirty hit, the arena justifiably nodding off midway through the third. They’ll just watch Josh Anderson’s overtime winner, see that the Jackets moved to 7-3-0, and they’ll smile warmly.
Maybe that’s all we need to do, too.
If Columbus coach famously John Tortorella called the team’s 5-1 Wednesday win over Buffalo a “slopfest,” then tonight’s game was a regular romp in the mud. Pale Dragon called the game “weird” in The Cannon Slack, and that’s absolutely the best way to put it. Weird.
Nevertheless, the Jackets followed the winning blueprint that carried them early in the season: hang out for awhile, wake up in the third, win the game. No complaints here. Goals from Cam Atkinson and Anderson were enough, combined with 29 saves for Sergei Bobrovsky.
An abysmal Jack Johnson clearing attempt found its way to Brandon Tanev, who followed his own quick shot dribbling through Bobrovsky’s pads and slammed the loose puck home for a 1-0 Jets lead with 15:07 left in the first.
The Blue Jackets enjoyed a minute or two of sustained pressure with seven minutes left in the first, and what did they do for the rest of the period? Commit and kill penalties. Three, in fact. Columbus committed three infractions (Markus Nutivaara for tripping, Zach Werenski for hooking and Brandon Dubinsky for roughing) on non-overlapping occasions but gave the Jets no quarter on the kill. The ultimate half-full or empty exercise: sure, they took three penalties, but they did a great job killing them!
The Jackets tossed some shots at Steve Mason to close the frame, catching up with a Jets team that tallied 10 shots in the first 7:30. None found the net, however, and Winnipeg took a 1-0 lead into the second period.
The second period picked up right where the first left off, as Dubinsky sat for interference just 1:52 into the period…and again, the Jackets held the visitors to only one shot on a fruitless power play.
With 12:10 remaining, the Jackets finally went to the power play thanks to a Shawn Matthias interference penalty. The Columbus crowd greeted the call with a loud, sarcastic cheer after four straight Winnipeg power plays.
Nothing much on the power play, but the Jackets went right back to a man advantage after Blake Wheeler high-sticked Josh Anderson at 10:21. They created a couple of chances, only to hand Winnipeg a break with :19 seconds left on the power play due to too many men on the ice. No goal for Winnipeg on their ensuing power play.
A few minutes later, and you’re not gonna believe this, but the Jackets went back on the power play at 15:27 by way of a Jacob Trouba high-sticking penalty. It won’t surprise you that nobody scored and the period ended with Winnipeg ahead, 1-0.
The third period began with little fanfare until—wait for it—a Blake Wheeler penalty at 3:23, giving the home side its fourth power play. You can guess the outcome.
Cool moment: At the under-10-minute media timeout, the organization honored Bill Davidge, who found out his cancer was in total remission earlier today. Awesome stuff.
Seconds later, with the energy fading and the prospect of a Steve Mason shutout looming, the Jackets broke though. Cam Atkinson hounded the puck before peeling back to the net, where he met a blocked, fluttering Seth Jones shot and backhanded it in to tie the game at 1-1.
The goal woke up Nationwide Arena as “MA-SON” chants began to rain down on the former Jackets goaltender. It may have woken up Brendan Lemieux, too, who hit Jack Johnson from behind and sparked a scrum that saw only David Savard penalized. Here’s a look at the hit:
Lemieux is the son of former Colorado Avalanche
felon forward Claude Lemieux, and boy does he look it! Jody Shelley said later the league said Johnson “just turned right before the hit,” which…whatever. Moving on. Overtime.
Two big plays sum up overtime: a huge save from Bob and the game-winner from Anderson. Here’s the save:
The Jackets, for all their foibles during the previous three periods, earned their overtime goal. Josh Anderson beat Dustin Byfuglien on the backcheck to recover the puck. He found and missed a scoring chance, but Columbus kept the puck and worked it around the zone. Anderson eventually took it back, moved behind the net, circled back to the top of the circles (savvy NHL video game players know this move) and threw it past Steve Mason (glove side, natch) for the game-winner.
- As previously mentioned, the Jackets are now 7-3-0, their best 10-game start in franchise history. Fantastic.
- Friday’s game marked Hockey Fights Cancer night, which is always a great night to recognize those who have been affected by cancer and those who work to fight it. It’s a special event, a first-class production and even better that the Jackets could produce a win like that.
- Columbus hadn’t beaten the Jets at home since 2011? That’s bananas.
- Columbus held Winnipeg to four shots on six power plays. On the other side, the Jackets tallied eight shots on four power plays. But no goals for either side, and that's what we’re all here for.
- Brandon Dubinsky had a dreadful start, taking a couple of boneheaded penalties and looking lost on the ice. He also got flattened by Matt Hendricks in the neutral zone. He did screen Mason on the game-winner, though, so credit where credit is due.
- Alexander Wennberg got the shooting memo loud and clear. Four of his shots found his way to Steve Mason, two others were blocked and three missed entirely.
- Eventually, faceoffs will become an issue (44 percent tonight). Right? Columbus boasts solid metrics in almost every other category, so...
- The Blue Jackets are 3-0 in overtime games this year. Why not just make the whole plane out of overtime?
- The team plays St. Louis on Saturday night at 8 p.m., their third back-to-back of the season. They’re 1-1 in the back-end of those. We’ll be here to cover it!