Blue Jackets Rally for Win, But Eliminated When Wild Wins

Blue Jackets Rally for Win, But Eliminated When Wild Wins

COLUMBUS, OH – Blue Jackets fans crowded the streets leading into Nationwide Arena (see photo), and maintained a frenzy as they nervously watched the ice and the scoreboard to see if they would make the playoffs. The Jackets entered final action Saturday one point behind the Red Wings (54-53) and three regulation wins behind the Wild (21-18) in the tie-breaker (see table below) with only two playoff spots available – and they made their fans wait more than two-and-a-half periods before scoring to rally for a 3-1 win.

Before Sat. Games Points Regulation Wins (ROW)
Detroit Red Wings 54 21
Minnesota Wild 53 21
Columbus Blue Jackets 53 18

Because the Wild had three more wins in regulation, the Blue Jackets had to pick up one more point Saturday than the Wild to make the playoffs, and for most of the game it looked like they would not score a goal or get a point.

Finally, half-way through the third period, Vinny Prospal took the puck behind the net and forwarded it to Brian Dubinsky, who put the backhand in at 10:09 to tie the game 1-1. Five minutes later Jack Johnson took the puck behind the net and tried to set up a similar goal, but his intended pass caught the goalies skate and went in as a defender tried to clear it making it 2-1 and sending the Nationwide Arena into delirium. A late open net goal after a couple of late threats provided the 3-1 margin to lead to a celebration.

However, the fans did not leave, turning their attention to the scoreboard to root for the Avalanche, who trailed 2-1 and needed to beat the Wild for Columbus to make the playoffs.

The game did not look good for the home fans during the first two periods.

The Jackets had home ice against a struggling team with a struggling goalie (Chris Mason, 1-6-1, 3.97 goals against per game), but Mason has allowed just over two goals a game in his career against the Jackets. Nashville did not look like a team long ago elminated, as the pressed the goal early.

One goal was disallowed when the official replay showed it was kicked into the net. Then just over eight and a half minutes into the game Nashville charged the net with three players who put four shots on Sergei Bobrovsky in four seconds. Jonathon Blum put a wrist shot on goal and then charged after it along with Richard Clune and Craig Smith. As all three got within a few feet of the goal, Blum took another shot, then Smith tried to backhand that rebound, and Blum put a third shot in four seconds on goal.

The Jackets finally crashed into all three players as bodies went flying, finally resulting in Clune and Jacket RJ Umberger getting two minute penalties. The Jackets finally were able to bring pressure during the four-on-four, but could not score. Finally 20 minutes after the melee in front of hte net, Shea Weber took a whirling pass from Joonas Rask and put in a 27-foot wristshot to make it 1-0 Nashville 8:29 into the second period, as score that help up until the final 10 minutes.

Before Sat. Games Points Regulation Wins (ROW)
Detroit Red Wings 56 22 – won
Minnesota Wild 55 22 – won
Columbus Blue Jackets 55 19 – won

Steve Dimon contributed to this story, and submitted the photo.