All it took was 36 seconds for tonight’s game to be turned completely upside-down.
In that span, the Blue Jackets went from leading 3-2 to trailing 4-3 at Scotiabank Place. Columbus had executed its game plan on back-to-back nights with aplomb and managed the puck as a road team should. Thanks to captain Rick Nash’s laser-like power play goal with just over 10 minutes remaining in the third period, the Blue Jackets had their second lead of the game and half the third period to go.
But things came unraveled late for the Blue Jackets in their most disappointing defeat of the season. Despite keeping their shifts short for the majority of the final period and preserving their energy at the tail end of their second game two nights, the Blue Jackets made a pair of mistakes that ended up costing them.
In the process, Columbus lost grasp on its first victory of the season and dropped the club to 0-7-1 through eight games.
Ottawa defenseman David Rundblad took an erratic hooking penalty late in the third period that seemed to deflate the Senators, who were trying to rally prior to the penalty call. The Blue Jackets had a power play that they could use to salt the game away, but Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson changed the game with one aggressive move.
He picked off a Kris Russell pass in the Blue Jackets zone, drove to the net and fell victim to a spectacular left-pad stop from Steve Mason. The resulting penalty on Russell made it 4-on-4 on the ice and the Senators took advantage. Jason Spezza hammered home a rebound from Erik Karlsson’s point shot with 36 seconds to play, tying the game at 3-3.
Sergei Gonchar ripped a one-timer toward the goal with less than three seconds remaining in regulation, and Milan Michalek applied a perfect re-direction that resulted in the game-winning goal.
It took a while to reach a pivotal moment in this game, but it was enormous. Alfredsson’s play to break up the pass came in the offensive zone while the Senators were shorthanded, and even though it was late in the hockey game, he turned on the afterburners to get around the speedy Russell.
The Blue Jackets played the textbook “road game” style until the final minutes, and Alfredsson’s hustle put a jolt through a rather stoic Ottawa bench. The Senators were wide awake and put the pressure on, shooting pucks from the point and eventually tied the game on Spezza’s goal. When the tide turned late in tonight’s game, the Senators took advantage.
-You can’t let one play tarnish an entire game, and Russell turned in a terrific performance tonight for a Blue Jacket team that was shorthanded on the blue line. Marc Methot and Radek Martinek missed tonight’s game due to injuries, and Russell quickly became the second-most experienced member of the Columbus defense. His third-period goal was a beauty, joining a rush started by Antoine Vermette and beating Craig Anderson under the blocker. Russell played 24:40 total and finished with a +2 rating.
-He didn’t have a heavy workload tonight, but Mason was solid and gave the Blue Jackets a chance to win. Mason made 23 saves as the Senators outshot Columbus 15-6 in the third period, including a highlight-reel robbery of Spezza with 8:19 to play. Erik Condra made a nice play on the wall to win the puck, and set up Spezza right at the front of the goal where Mason snared it out of the air.
-Rick Nash scored his third goal of the season tonight in the third period, and at the time, it was an enormous goal for the Blue Jackets. After taking a cross-point pass from Fedor Tyutin, Nash whipped a wrist shot over Anderson’s shoulder on the far side. Nash has points in six of the team’s eight games and is tied for the team lead in scoring with Vinny Prospal (each player has 3-5-8 total).
-Prospal registered a pair of assists in the game and continues as one of the offensive leaders on the club. Along with Nash, he leads the team in scoring and is a presence at both even strength and on the power play. Where you notice him most: zone entries on the power play. His patience is world-class and he made a deft play just inside the blue line that set up Nash’s go-ahead goal.
Tuesday, 7 p.m. | Nationwide Arena
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