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Any Way You Can Get It . . .

When Chicago’s first shot on net hit the bar, bounced up, landed on Mason’s back and into the goal, you had the sense that this might be a rather bizarre game. Consider the following:

  • The CBJ’s first goal comes on a redirection by Umberger, with his back to the net, after Voracek cuts off Huet’s attempt to rim it around the boards;
  • Our second goal comes when Methot executes a perfect “6 ball in the side pocket” bank shot off the boards, in the slot to Dorsett, who puts it away
  • Our third goal has Nash fitting the puck in an opening the size of a Tim Horton’s Stinger Donut, from a ridiculous angle near the goal line.
  • The Jackets spend 18 minutes in the penalty box without a fighting major, surrendering 7 power plays, and allow only 1 power play goal

Such was life in Nationwide last night, with the Jackets ultimately prevailing 4-3 in OT, on a gorgeous centering pass from R.J. Umberger to a charging Antoine Vermette, who just floated the puck over Huet’s pads and into the goal, setting off a disappointing but periodically loud crow of 15,190. To cap off the bizarre evening, Vermette does not appear when announced as the First Star, touching off injury fears (apparently unfounded).

This was not an artistic win, but it was skillful. We outhit Chicago 28-18, we created tons of opportunities, some of which we squandered, others Huet took away with some sick saves. We were edged out in the faceoff circle 31-28, but had 8 takeaways to only 2 for the Blackhawks. Mason was strong, if not spectacular, and our penalty kill was spectacular, including a 4 minute kill where the only shots on goal were ours.

In short, this was a game that good teams win down the stretch — an unlovely, hard working game. That the Jackets were able to win this one without ultimately being able to control the style of play was a credit to their versatility.

Here are the +/- for the night:

Penalty Kill — Sure, we gave up one PP goal, on a puck that jumped over about 3 sticks in the crease, but othewise we killed off 14 minutes in penalties with assertiveness and skill, against one of the most dangerous power plays in the league. The 4 minute kill on Tyutin’s high stick was amazing.

Second Line — This Umberger, Vermette, Voracek line could be really, really scary good. Aside from the two goals, they created lots of chances, and were frankly robbed a couple of times.

Persistence — Not sure what else to call it, but when we can come back from 1 -0 and 3 -2 deficits, overcome 18 minutes in penalties, and find a way to win, it is a sign that we have matured well beyond our years as a club. We kept the heat on Huet, and he showed his frustration. Nice to see.

Discipline — Sure, Chicago puts a lot of pressure on with its speed and skill, but no excuse for 18 minutes in penalties, even if some were atrocious calls. Tyutin alone had 8 minutes in penalties by the 5 minute mark of the second period! Need to keep our heads. Those third period penalties will kill you down the stretch.

Finishing — Huet made some sick saves on a few sterling chances, but we also flew some golden chances by the net, over the net, or into his breadbasket. Power play showed good puck movement, but our sticks were not on the ice at the right times to put home rebounds.

Officiating — Oh my, this was bad. The no-call on Boll was one of the most atrocious things I have seen on the ice in awhile. When they called the unsportsmanlike on him, they did not announce “diving”, as they usually do, so I assumed that Boll questioned the legitimacy of the referee’s birth or some equally offensive byplay. Same thing with the boarding call to Klesla. The referee 5 feet away not only does not call the penalty, he makes the “safe” sign, indicating a good hit. The other ref, on the far side of the red line, makes the call. Credit to Hitch for not running out onto the ice and throttling the guys.

In summary, a huge win for the boys over a very tough opponent. We could not shut them down, but we controlled the intensity and did not let them run away with it. The game was a bit more up tempo than we would normally like, but a win is a win. Dallas loses and Nashville only gets a point in Anaheim, so got help there. More on playoffs later. Go Jackets!

2 Comments

  1. roadman

    March 19, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Had to be in Toledo, but all was not lost, went into a bar got the game put up on one of the TV’s got to eat have a couple of beers while watching. I did more than a few looks when I came out of my chair cheering my a** off with the GWG!

    Playoffs here we come.

    GO JACKETS!!!!!

  2. JAL

    March 19, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Awesome, roadman! Crowd was a little disappointing last night, given the circumstances. I know it was Wednesday and all, but still. . .

    To everyone’s credit, HUGE roar on the Vermette goal.

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