Note from the author: while I will normally try to get articles up immediately following the games, any game on the West Coast will be delayed until the next day.
In what was a great night for Columbus, Vancouver had a horrible one. For the first time in franchise history, the Columbus Blue Jackets started a season off at 2-0. At the same time, for the first time in nine seasons, the Vancouver Canucks started off at 0-3. With their core resigned, their first playoff berth behind them, and this great start to the season, the Jackets are finally getting some respect – hey, even ESPN is finally talking about them. That said, however, with two more tough road games this week, the winning drive by the Jackets is going to cease.
As Blue Jackets’ coach Ken Hitchcock put it earlier this week, the game against Vancouver was a hard-hitting and hard-fought battle. The Canucks and their fans were in full panic mode and desperately needed the win. The Blue Jackets were happy and skating with overconfidence, and they looked like a juicy target. Vancouver figured that their third game of the season would be a turnaround point, and that after beating the Jackets, they could get back on track. They might have counted on beating the Jackets, but Vancouver didn’t count on Rick Nash as a play maker.
The game started off in Vancouver’s favor. Though they got an early penalty for a bad hit on Jared Boll, Vancouver was easily able to kill of the penalty. Then Henrik Sedin (1) started it off for the Canucks, scoring just four and a half minutes into the game. Though the Jackets were able to keep them out of the net for the next 16 minutes, the Canucks were easily controlling the puck.
The game changed, however, when in the 19th minute, Captain Rick Nash sent a puck flying across the crease towards Antoine Vermette (1), who tapped the puck in, tying the game. Though it was not credited as a shorthanded goal, the Jackets had only four men on the ice when it occurred, as Rusty Klesla was still standing in the penalty box (The Columbus Dispatch considers it a shorthanded goal, but neither Yahoo nor ESPN do).
The second period started off perfectly for the Jackets. Just two minutes into the game, Kristian Huselius (1) scored on a laser shot over goaltender Roberto Luongo. Three minutes later, Klesla (2) scored, followed almost immediately by a goal from Nikita Filatov (1). In just seven minutes and only four shots, the Jackets had scored four goals, and Rick Nash had picked up three assists – what a night. The Canucks then pulled Luongo from the goal.
Though a goal by Christian Ehrhoff (1) late in the Second stopped the bleeding, the Canucks’ fans were really out of the game. That changed, however, when Willie Mitchell (1) put one by goalie Steve Mason, making the game 3-4. It looked like the Canucks had a comeback brewing. Their hopes were smashed, however, when Fedor Tyutin (1) scored on a power play. Columbus had finally scored with a man advantage, and they had closed the door on Vancouver.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Rick Nash played absolutely amazing tonight. Though he didn’t get any goals, and still has yet to this season, he became a playmaker and a real team player. Assisting in the first three goals of the night, Nash made sure that his teammates were able to sink the puck into the net. Nash himself was surprised by his assists, stating that “Apparently Juice [Huselius] and I switched roles.” Furthermore, he served as a distraction all night, causing Vancouver to cover him instead of the man with the puck. This maturity is what Columbus needs in their captain, and it should help them win many, many more games.
The Blue Jackets might have been a model of efficiency (five goals on 24 shots), but they really need to work on control and not letting up. Too often, across-the-ice passes were intercepted, and simply dekes resulted in lost pucks. If the Jackets want to keep on winning, they need to buckle down in this regard.