Sunday, February 3, 2013

Game 9: Priceless Work Of Art(em)

Some flat play, an early goal, and it would have been all too easy to give up on those Columbus Blue Jackets.

These, however, were not those Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Jackets were skilled... they were physical... and one long-range blast from James Wisniewski for the tying goal with less than two minutes in the first... the Jackets were a team possessed.

The crowd wasn't far behind. The standing O after the horn in the first period was a good first sign.

From then on, the Jackets had an answer for everything.

For Steve Mason, his answer was "denied." Every Red Wings shot (well, almost... 32 of 34 shots). Stick save, pad save, what have you. Mason was solid. Rebounds were rare. Even rarer... the cheers that erupted from the sellout Nationwide crowd.

But this is how Steve Mason has played so far all season. The key difference... the team in front of him actually played hockey in front of him.

And played it well.

Artem Anisimov continued his trend of strong play, by far the highlight of the trade that sent old whatshisname to the Rangers so far.

His first strike came after dodging Jonathan Ericsson, and roofing the puck over Jimmy Howard's shoulder. But where the Jackets have faltered thus far in this short-but-painful season, they played with this lead and kept it coming.

Anisimov's second came in the closing minutes, after he made Howard commit to his right,then made a sweet deke to his backhand to flip it in.

This was a "character" game, in which the Jackets seemed to have an answer to everything. Even after losing Wiz in the second period, the team persevered. Hell, Jack Johnson put up team record minutes, with 34-plus of ice time.

And even a late, garbage penalty on R.J. Umberger (because tripping over the goaltender's outstretched pad is apparently interference now) couldn't shake this team. In a situation in which Detroit could have shifted momentum, Mark Letestu took a pass and managed to get the puck through Howard's pads for the team's first shorthanded goal and the 4-1 lead.

It was one of several deafening moments of the night, but few beat the satisfaction of that last 26.4 seconds. This night. Against that team.

Enjoy. See you Tuesday... Go Jackets!

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