Game #33 Recap: Bah Humbug
After an emotional win to continue their December Points Streak on Saturday, the Jackets had one last hurdle to clear before the holiday break...and fell flat on their face over it.
We often say a picture is worth a thousand words, so this is likely to tell you a lot about how this game went.
Things didn't start off so badly - in fact, for much of the early play, the Jackets were taking it to the Predators, culminating in what appeared to be a Nick Foligno goal to open the scoring. Unfortunately, Pekka Rinne had dislodged his own net, perhaps accidentally, perhaps not, before the puck crossed the line, and the goal went almost immediately to video review.
After a lengthy wait, the War Room confirmed the net was dislodged prior to the shot, which is an automatic No Goal. The fans at nationwide weren't happy, but the rules are the rules, even when they suck. (For the record, I wouldn't mind a clause that invalidates this if the team being scored on had dislodged the net intentionally, but the rules are what they are.)
To their credit, the Jackets didn't fold up after that, but the Predators visibly stiffened their defense after the early scare, and it was a hardworking defensive effort that helped to keep the game scoreless through the end of the first period.
Things were on a decent keel, until about a quarter of the way through the second period, when Victor Bartley wired a pass out of his own zone and straight through Columbus' entire on-ice contingent, catching Colin Wilson in flight. Dalton Prout and Fedor Tyutin were caught completely flat footed, leaving Wilson all the room he needed to close and snipe a wrister past Sergei Bobrovsky to open the scoring.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the only goal Nashville would score thanks to capitalizing on a Columbus mistake. A little over a minute later, a pass from Nick Foligno to Ryan Johansen would deflect off the young forward's stick, bouncing back into the neutral zone.
Mike Ribiero grabbed the rebound and went in against Fedor Tyutin on a 2 on 1 with Craig Smith. Waiting Bob out, he faked shot until the netminder had bit, and passed off to Smith for the tap in to make it 2-0.
That score stood through the end of 40 minutes, and it didn't get much better after that.
The Predators would exploit another mistake early in the third when a clearing attempt for a line change got bobbled, allowing Seth Jones to drive back to the net. Cutting across the crease, he squeaked the puck through Bobrovsky's pads.
Filip Forsberg would set up the next goal, Smith's second of the night, by fighting his way out of a cluster of Jackets at the boards and setting up the wide open forward for a one-timer that would end Bobrovsky's night.
Curtis McElhinney took over in net, but another odd man rush would allow Mike Fisher to baptize him as well.
About the only good news in the game would come late in the frame, when Alexander Wennberg drew a holding call from Gabriel Bourque. The ensuing power play saw an actual offensive zone cycle and pressure, which was remarkable in and of itself after how this game had gone, but that possession would lead to Ryan Johansen walking the puck along the blue line before sending it over to Wennberg, who sniped his first NHL goal past Rinne, breaking the shutout, and giving the fans at least one thing to cheer for at Nationwide tonight.
A bad loss doesn't wipe out the remarkable run this team has been on in December. One bad game is just that - one bad game. The team let out a stinker, and it's likely to leave a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths, but...it's one game. 8-1-1 is a pretty damn impressive last ten games, even if that last loss stings a bit.
The Jackets will have a few days off, and an opportunity to get back on the horse against the Bruins Saturday. Here's hoping we see a better result.