The Sports Page: Canucks Come Back to Burn Jackets
To picture a Columbus Blue Jackets fan is to imagine a Midwesterner in a hockey jersey screaming, “Come On!” for eleven years. Many Jackets faithful again left Nationwide Arena shaking their heads after Monday night’s disappointing 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver improves to 1-0-1 on the year while Columbus falls to 0-3-0, the worst start in franchise history.
Volume is not always better than precision. Despite outshooting Vancouver 11-2 in the first period Monday night, the Jackets and Canucks were tied 1-1 after twenty minutes of play. Rick Nash commented after the game that he was not surprised how close the contest was despite the shooting disparity, “They’re a good team, they missed the Stanley Cup by one game.” Columbus held three power plays for 5:38 total but were unable to capitalize on any of them, not even a brief two man advantage. Almost nine minutes in, the Pride of Nationwide drew first blood. Matt Calvert relentlessly kept a Blue Jacket push alive before maneuvering the puck to Derek MacKenzie. His centering pass found an expectant Cam Atkinson who fired in a wrist shot for his first NHL goal. The Columbus advantage stood until the 15:30 mark when Canucks’ winger Chris Higgins slammed the puck past Columbus keeper Steve Mason for the equalizer. Assists went to center Manny Malhotra and winger Jannik Hansen. For the period, the Jackets went 0 for 3 on power plays; keep that in mind, it will come up later.
The second period was a different story. The Unionmen were called for their first penalty, hooking against Vinny Prospal, in the third minute. However, the Jackets defense clamped down and killed the penalty with two clears and Steve Mason’s quick pads. The contest then grew physical. During the eighth minute, Columbus’ Marc Methot was given two minutes for boarding. Sidebar: it was a fairly thunderous hit, the kind that makes the crowd go, “Ooohh.” Vancouver did their best to capitalize on the power play by keeping the puck as prevalent in the crease as Mason. The defense, however, held. One minute into the power play Canucks winger Alexandre Burrows clubbed Steve Mason, dropping him soundly on the ice. Columbus defender Kris Russell took exception to such an affront and squared off against Burrows. The refs were quick to separate the pair and both Russell and Burrows were assessed roughing penalties (Cody Hodgson served Burrows’ penalty as he had to leave the ice). Columbus took a 2-1 lead during the 19th minute. While on the attack, Rick Nash was boarded but the puck slid to Vinnie Prospal who maneuvered the puck past Canuck keeper Cody Schneider for the wrap-around goal.
All the Blue Jackets had to do was hold their lead for twenty more minutes. They were even granted a penalty shot within the first minute of play. There was a scrimmage near the mouth of the Vancouver goal and defender Christopher Tanev was charged with deliberately dislodging the goal. In a surprising move, head coach Scott Arniel sent out winger Maksim Mayorov to take the shot. Schneider was sharp, however, and denied the CBJ shot. The Canucks re-tied the contest at the 1:59 mark thanks to a Cody Hodgson goal. In the ninth minute Blue Jacket defender Grant Clitsome was assessed a two minute penalty for high sticking. Sixteen seconds into their power play, the Canucks took the lead on Alexandre Burrows’ goal (assists going to the Sedine brothers – Daniel and Henrik). While officially there was time for a Columbus comeback, the players’ body language indicated that there would be no home-ice magic tonight. The Unionmen were tired, this was their fourth game in six days. Nash mentioned, “It seemed like they [Vancouver] turned it up a level and we just stayed the same.” Head coach Scott Arniel expanded on his point saying that in the third period Columbus had, “nothing left in the tank.” Even pulling the goalie with a minute and change to go did not make a difference. After sixty minutes of hockey, the Canucks stood triumphant.
On the day, the Jackets were 0-for-4 on the power play which puts them at 0-for-15 on the season. Rick Nash understands this must change, “Seems like pucks aren’t going in right now. A couple chances are just bouncing the other way… we just need to stick with it and not get frustrated.” So is this winless team feeling anxious? Scott Arniel commented after the game, “All it takes is one win.” The Jackets get their next chance for that win on Wednesday night when the Colorado Avalanche roll into town.
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images from bluejackets.nhl.com.