The Jackets looked good yesterday, but came out on the short end. They looked good again, though they had more struggles today than yesterday. But, they were able to withstand the offensive onslaught of San Jose to make it to overtime, and once there they capitalized on a turnover and Ethan Moreau scored his first goal as a Blue Jacket to send Columbus back to the States with a split.
There was still plenty to be concerned about—penalties galore, for example—but at the end of the day you have to find ways to win games maybe you otherwise wouldn’t if you want to make the playoffs. And the Jackets showed some heart and Steve Mason looked solid again to get the win. The Sharks jumped out early again, but this time Columbus was able to quickly equalize. Then the defenses took over.
The theme early and often for Columbus was penalties. They took a holding the stick penalty (Antoine Vermette) literally six second into the game, and the Sharks made them pay as Devin Setoguchi scored at the 2:02 mark as the penalty was about to expire. It looked like things might go badly again for the Jackets as they gave up the early goal for the second straight game. But, The Captain stepped up.
Barely a minute later, Nash scored on a tight angle shot that trickled in past Antero Niittymaki to tie it up at one apiece. And then, much like yesterday, the defenses stepped up. For the Jackets, it was Mason who made a number of good saves and didn’t give up the super soft goal, and the Penalty Kill, who withstood a barrage in the second period as the Jackets continued to get whistled for dumb penalties.
Both teams traded blows in the second period, but there was no scoring. The Jackets surged in front in the third period, as they scored on the Power Play. For the second straight day, Nikita Filatov set up Kristian Huselius on the man advantage. Those two have had solid chemistry so far on the Power Play, and Filatov is proving he can play and is willing to dish the puck as much as he is to shoot it. Huselius will be sad to leave his home country, as he scored two goals in two games playing on his native ice.
The lead was short-lived, however, as the Jackets immediate took another dumb penalty. Mike Commodore went off for hooking 23 seconds after the goal, and the Sharks capped again 90 seconds later. The juggernaut PP line of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, and Patrick Marleau got to Mason. Thornton ripped a shot past Mason after a cross-ice feed on which he Mason had almost no shot. Just that quickly, it was tied at 2 again. And there were 13 minutes left to play.
The Jackets took two more bad penalties, but their PK was up to the task and the two teams went to overtime knotted at 2. The Jackets had to kill a penalty off to end regulation, and the PP ran seven seconds into overtime. Once both teams were back at even strength in the OT period, Columbus righted the ship and on a mini-turnover by Heatley—forced by a nice check by Sammy Pahlsson. Fedor Tyutin took the puck forward into the zone, and fed it across the Moreau who snapped it past Niittymaki for the game winner. For Scott Arniel, it is his first win as an NHL head coach. Here’s to many more this year.
On the stat sheet, the Jackets were less impressive than in the opener, as San Jose out-shot them 35-25. The Jackets took twice as many penalties, and gave up two more Power Play goals. San Jose was also much better in the face-off circle today, edging Columbus 27-25. The good news for the Jackets, other than the win? They had only three giveaways against 11 takeaways. They bested the Sharks in both categories. Mason was solid, allowing just two goals on 35 shots to earn the #1 Star for the night. Hopefully his performance in Sweden is a sign of good things to come.
The Jackets head home now, and have a week to get re-acclimated to North America. Their next game is on Friday October 15th at home against Chicago.
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