The Columbus Blue Jackets
enjoyed their time in Sweden, but the flight home would have been pretty quiet had the team lost its both games against the San Jose Sharks
"I didn't want the first win to drag on," said new coach Scott Arniel
after the Jackets beat the Sharks 3-2 Saturday on Ethan Moreau
's OT goal. "We had a pretty big group hug behind the bench, when Ethan scored that goal. This was special for all of us.
"The flight home will be so much nicer with this win. It's a big one against a really good hockey team. This was a good test for us and I like a lot of what we did."
The two points made the visit even sweeter for the Blue Jackets' three Swedish players, all of whom played a role in the victory. Kristian Huselius
scored his second goal in as many days, Anton Stralman
added his second assist of the season, and Samuel Pahlsson
killed penalties while going plus-1.
"Everybody was excited to start the season here and I think we played really well, too. We're really happy with the win. We had a chance to win the first game as well, against one of the best teams in the West. I wouldn't have enjoyed the trip as much without the win," Huselius said.
The Sharks outshot the Blue Jackets 35-25, mostly due to their eight power plays. San Jose scored both of its goals with the extra man.
"Our penalty-killers and Steve Mason
were outstanding. I think our 5-on-5 game was really good, and our power play was really good, we just didn't get to play in those situations," Arniel said.
"Penalty-killing wears people out and we lost our rhythm on the bench in the third period."
Moreau took two minor penalties, and he didn't let himself off the hook easily.
"I don't mind getting roughing or charging penalties, those are a part of the way I play the game, but to get a tripping penalty … I didn't feel good about it. I was anxious in the penalty box, but these guys bailed me out," he said, referring to the Columbus penalty kill, led by Pahlsson who played a third of his 16 minutes when his team was shorthanded.
"The more we talk about staying out of the box, the more it happens so we may have to just stop talking about, myself included," Moreau said.
stopped 33 shots -- including a second-period blast by Patrick Marleau
that hit him in the mask -- while looking much more like the Vezina Trophy winner of 2008-09 than the kid who struggled last season.
"(Mason's) got his game back to where he was two years ago. He was outstanding even after taking a bullet shot right in the head. He's a real competitor," Arniel said.
While the Sharks left the city right after the game, the Columbus players will get another good night's sleep in Sweden, before heading back home. All in all, the players and the coaching staff said the Compuware NHL Premiere was a good experience -- especially with two points to show for it.
"For me, being new on the team, the trip's been a good chance to get to know the teammates. These (Swedish) guys have been great tour guides and we've been in good hands. We had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed my the time here," Moreau said.
"It's been great to experience a new culture, and a new city. Getting the win tonight is imperative, it's a long way to go, and we've put in a lot of work, and had we not got the results, I probably would have answered the question differently."