Game 52 Recap: Brassard and Carter Lead the Jackets to Victory Over the Ducks
The Jackets were 0-2 on the current California road trip, but they had Jeff Carter and Marc Methot back in the lineup. Methot had a solid game, but Carter was also effective- providing a timely goal and solid play in the offensive zone.
This night was dominated by another Columbus center however, as Derick Brassard took it upon himself to almost single-handedly defeat the Ducks.
Please read on after the break for the complete run-down.
The Jackets opened the game with their "new" top line of Rick Nash, R.J. Umberger and Derick Brassard. The first shift was actually quite impressive, with three players connecting on crisp passes, leading to a scoring chance for Brett Lebda, who snuck in from the left point.
Just 1:46 into the game, the Ducks struck first. After a shot from the point was deflected in front of Columbus goaltender Curtis Sanford, Sanford made the save and thought he had the puck frozen. The puck crept behind him and stalled in the blue ice. Teemu Selanne was on the doorstep to clean up the trash.
1-0 Ducks: Teemu Selanne (Lubomir Visnovsky, Luca Sbisa)
The Jackets followed up the goal with a pair of strong shifts. The fourth line went out there banging bodies, preventing the Ducks from building on the momentum gained from scoring. The Nash line followed, hemming the Ducks in their zone and getting a shot on net for a whistle.
The big addition to the lineup on this night was Jeff Carter, who returned from injury. He was placed on a line with Vinny Prospal and Colton Gillies. I must admit, I hated the sound of this line. It seemed so...hodge podge. As the period went on, the line looked more and more engaged and determined, even though they were third in terms of icetime (among forward lines).
A personal message to General Manager Scott Howson- please, please do not trade Derick Brassard.
At 7:57 the Jackets went on the powerplay after Toni Lydman was called for boarding. The play was behind and to the left of Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, and after getting his pocket picked, Lydman turned and pushed Derek Dorsett into the boards while Dorsett was in a vulnerable position. Dorsett was shaken up, making his way to the bench slowly.
The Jackets didn't score on the man advantage, but I'll say this much- the passes were on-target, the puck was being moved at a faster and more deliberate pace, and overall the powerplay looked strong.
There was a great sequence with about eight minutes left in the period. Carter skated in from the blueline, beating a defender wide and wiring a shot off the post behind Hiller. The puck was immediatly thrown up to Bobby Ryan, who skated in on Sanford, passing the puck cross-crease to a teammate for the one-time wrister. Sanford got a piece of it to keep the Ducks lead at one.
Colton GIlles showed great effort on a play with a few minutes left in the period. He skated down the right wing towards HIller, and with the puck a few feet in front of him he dove and swept the puck cross-crease but it was intercepted by a Ducks defender. Gillies has been a solid addition to the team, the effort has never been in question.
With 35 second left in the period Luca Sbisa was called for boarding. This one was a little cheesy, he checked Vermette into the boards, but it was far from malicious and Vermette turned at the last minute. With seven seconds left, Umberger was able to get off a shot from in-tight, but Hiller flashed the leather.
End of the first period, 1-0 Ducks.
The middle period started with the news that defenseman Brett Lebda wouldn't return after suffering a hand injury. I consider this to be a big blow, given Lebda's play since signing with the Jackets. He, along with Aaron Johnson, are the only Jackets' blueliners to take real offensive chances. I also witnessed Lebda making a handful of nice defensive plays, and was quite impressed with him. Here's hoping the injury doesn't sideline him for an extended period of time.
The Jackets began the period on the powerplay, but a strong Ducks penalty kill prevented Columbus from breaking the goose egg.
At about the 2:30 mark, Derek Dorsett was skating up the right wing when he was hip-checked by Sbisa. Dorsett wasn't pleased, and skated up to Sbisa, giving him the business. A scrum ensued, with the result being a ten-minute misconduct for Dorsett along with two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Ducks were unable to score on the powerplay.
At the five minute mark of the period, Marc Methot, playing his first game on this California roadie had a scoring chance in front. He went forehand-backhand but Hiller stood tall.
Seconds later, Vinny Prospal went to the box for hooking. The Jackets penalty kill was very aggressive, and was successful in preventing the Ducks from scoring. The parade to the box would continue however, when at 7:42 Colton Gillies went off for tripping. The kill was effective again, preventing the Ducks from getting set up.
The Ducks had a fantastic chance shortly after when Matt Beleskey skated behind the net with the puck, and fired a pass to Niklas Hagman out front. Hagman one-timed the puck on net, but Sanford came up with a huge save.
After some back and forth play, the Jackets finally got on the board. With 5:13 left in the period, John Moore fired a shot from the point, which hit Hiller in the chest. The puck dropped in front of him, where Nash was able to flick it over to Brassard, who was just to the left of the slot. Brass made no mistake wiring the puck behind Hiller.
1-1: Derick Brassard (Rick Nash, John Moore)
Shortly after, the Jackets committed a too much man penalty. With both Columbus defenders aggressively challenging the forwards, Corey Perry got a hold of a loose puck and wired a pass from behind the goal line to a wide-open Selanne in front of the net. Selanne wired a shot past Sanford to take the lead.
2-1 Ducks: Teemu Selanne (Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf)
The Jackets once again shot themselves in what was left of their foot. At the 1:34 mark they went back to the kill after taking a delay of game penalty when the puck was sent over the glass. This is the stupidest penalty in hockey, and here's hoping it dies a gruesome death in the near future.
With little more than six seconds left in the period, Selanne wired a shot on Sanford, with the rebound squirting to the left of the goalie. Sanford's aggressive positioning had him out of the blue paint, and the puck slid to an open Ducks forward. The shot was taken, but Aaron Johnson stacked-dem-up and made the huge save. Sanford reached over Johnson to freeze the loose puck.
End of the second period, 2-1 Ducks.
At the 1:11 mark of the third, Sheldon Brookbank went off for cross-checking. Once the Jackets gained the zone, Prospal floated a puck on net from the blueline. The buscuit made its way to Vermette, who was camped in front of Hiller. Vermette then backhanded a pass through a Ducks defender to a streaking Jeff Carter, who deposited the puck into the net to tie the game. Welcome back, JC.
2-2: Jeff Carter (Antoine Vermette, Vinny Prospal)
At 7:36 the Jackets went back to the powerplay. Mr.Selanne got his stick up on Derek MacKenzie, and went off for high-sticking. The Jackets were unable to score, but with seconds left Brassard forced Hiller into making a good save. A scrum ensued afterward, with pleasantries exchanged.
Th remaining minutes of regulation saw the teams alternate stretches of puck possession, with neither team able to score. Carter was engaged, and the bottom six was holding the fort down.
Near the end of the third, Umberger got clipped on the beak, drawing blood. The refs missed it, luckily for the Ducks. It would have been a four minute double minor.
End of regulation, 2-2.
The overtime period saw each team alternate chances, with the goalies coming up huge multiple times. It was a wide-open stretch of hockey that prvided great excitement.
After Selanne was denied his hatty by Sanford, the Jackets turned up-ice. Brassard gathered the puck, and skated in on a two-on-one with Nash. Brass kept the puck, wound up for a slapper, and fired the puck past Hiller for the victory.
Final Score: 3-2 Jackets.
Derick Brassard had a fantastic game. As I said earlier- DO NO trade this player Howson. With Arniel gone, Brass has regained his scoring touch and is once again a crucial part of the core of this team.
Jeff Carter had a solid game in his return from injury. Scoring a goal was the icing on the cake.
Curtis Sanford was outstanding. 'Nuff said.
Props to Teemu Selanne on his pair of goals. The Finnish Flash is a true legend.
I also though John Moore had another strong game, kudos, kid.
Bottom of the Barrel:
I always hate doing this section after a victory, but I have to say that Rick Nash was relatively ineffective tonight. This is why the team needs Carter- if Nash has an off night, there is another superstar waiting in the wings to take over the game.
Standard disappointment- Umby. What the eff man? You had a few shots, but otherwise...very much "not Umby".
California road trips: The suck. It's 2am here in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
Thank god the trip out West is over. It was great that the Jackets were able to avoid the Californai sweep, and it was even better to see Carter and Brassard have terrific games. If you ask me, these are the 1 and 2 centers you build this team around. We'll see you next game.