POST GAME ON THE ROAD presented by:
With one diving glove save on the goal line that looked eerily similar to a game-saving stop a few years ago, Steve Mason deflated the Minnesota Wild and changed the game for the Blue Jackets.
Engaged in an emotional 1-1 game in the second period at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild were trying to find the edge that head coach Mike Yeo challenged them to find earlier in the day – but it never happened. Erik Christensen fired a wrister from the right circle and Kyle Brodziak went hard to the net with Minnesota on the power play. Brodziak found a loose puck directly in front of Mason and backhanded it toward the net as Blue Jackets defenseman John Moore knocked him to the ice.
Brodziak and his teammates thought they were going to take a 2-1 lead, but Mason reached back and stopped the puck on the goal line for the biggest save of the game. It looked a lot like his save on Kyle Wellwood in the closing seconds of a game against the Vancouver Canucks in 2008 that preserved a win for Columbus, and his save tonight certainly gave his team a boost.
The game began like the Wild had envisioned but the early surge didn’t last long. Devin Setoguchi scored his 12th goal of the season at 14:28 of the first period, taking a nice pass from Mikko Koivu and beating Mason over the shoulder for a 1-0 lead.
The Blue Jackets bounced back and tied the game with under a minute to play in the opening period on R.J. Umberger’s first of two goals on the night – burying a drop pass from Rick Nash through Niklas Backstrom and barely squeaking over the goal line.
Umberger struck again late in the second period, as the Blue Jackets steadied their power play which had struggled to that point of the game. James Wisniewski - returning from a 17-game absence due to an ankle injury- fired a slap shot through traffic that deflected to the feet of Umberger, and he collected the puck and roofed it over Backstrom for a 2-1 lead at 19:39.
Columbus scored in the final minute of each period tonight, capping the scoring on Wisniewski’s length-of-the-ice chip shot into the empty net with 48.3 seconds to play.
Mason’s diving save on Brodziak was a huge moment in the game for Columbus, but his biggest stop came in the first period to keep the Blue Jackets in the battle. While shorthanded, Brodziak stole the puck and had a clean look at Mason, deked to the backhand and was stuffed by Mason’s glove hand. Had Brodziak scored, it’s a 2-0 lead for the Wild and a deeper hole for the Blue Jackets to emerge from.
Wisniewski picked up his first assist in seven games after recording a helper on Umberger’s second goal. He last had an assist Dec. 13 vs. Vancouver. Tonight marked his first game back in the lineup after missing the previous 17 games due to an ankle injury suffered Dec. 29 at Dallas.
Columbus is now 21-18-4 all-time against Minnesota, including a 7-12-3 mark at Xcel Energy Center.
Umberger snapped a seven-game goalless skid with his eighth and ninth goals of the season tonight. He had last scored Jan. 10 at Chicago. It was his first multi-goal game since Mar. 22, 2011 at Colorado, a span of 58 games.
Nash has points in four-straight games after notching a pair of assists tonight. He has 1-4-5 during that stretch, while the multi-assist game was his first since Dec. 22 at Nashville, a span of 20 games. He has 5-6-11 the last 16 games and 14-12-26 the last 37 games.
Derick Brassard has points in five of the last seven games after picking up an assist on Umberger’s goal. He has 2-5-7 in those games, while collecting 5-7-12 the last 16 games and 7-10-17 the last 23 games after being held to 2-3-5 the first 24 games of the season.
vs. Anaheim Ducks
Nationwide Arena | Columbus, Ohio
Sunday, 6 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com