BLUE JACKETS (1-0-0) 3, PREDATORS 2 (0-0-1) -- SHOOTOUT
What a game. What a way to start.
The Blue Jackets have experienced a long string of horror stories within the confines of Bridgestone Arena in their 12-year existence, finding some of the toughest ways to lose hockey games they probably should have won. But tonight, when many players talked about beginning a new era in 2013, they shrugged off the weight of past disappointments in Nashville and put forth a collective effort in their season opener.
Sergei Bobrovsky gave up an early goal to Martin Erat less than a minute into the game, but bounced back in fine fashion with a 32-save effort in his Columbus debut. He was masterful in the shootout, turning aside three Nashville attempts and getting some help from the far post to seal the victory, just the Blue Jackets' second victory in Nashville since Apr. 3, 2006.
After the Erat goal, Columbus settled into its game and got back to its forechecking style. Fedor Tyutin sent a rocket one-timer toward Pekka Rinne that was deflected by Nick Foligno on the way in, tying the game at 1-1 with 3:52 left in the opening period.
Ryan Ellis gave the Predators a 2-1 lead late in the first on a scrambled play in front of Bobrovsky, sliding a loose puck five-hole at 17:55. Bobrovksy had lost his stick on the play and Ellis made a heads-up decision to shoot between the pads.
But the Blue Jackets stared the Predators down, and came back with a solid 40 minutes to force overtime and eventually a shootout. Artem Anisimov scored a highlight-reel goal over Rinne's shoulder at 12:05 of the second, and scored another backhand beauty in the shootout to cap off an impressive Blue Jackets debut for the young Russian.
Though it's just one game, the effort of the Blue Jackets was perhaps the most stout aspect of their game tonight. They absorbed an early punch from Nashville, fired back with a right hook and Derick Brassard delivered the knockout blow on a slick move in the shootout.
There were many in this game, but since we have to pick one, let's go with Anisimov's game-tying goal in the second period. Nashville put a few heavy shifts together in the middle frame and had the Blue Jackets playing a lot of hockey in their own end for three or four minutes, but in the middle of a line change, Tyutin snapped a quick lead pass to Anisimov at the attacking line and he shrugged off a Predators defenseman to get the shot away.
With one flick of the backhand, Anisimov went bar-down from a nearly impossible angle, beating Rinne when the goaltender thought he had things under control. The goal changed the complexion of the game and spurned the Blue Jackets to a strong third period and overtime.
-- How about Bobrovsky? Cool, calm, collected after that opening goal (which took a bad bounce of a Blue Jackets defender) and was icy in the shootout.
-- Thought the Tyutin-Nikitin pairing was excellent tonight, especially in the third period. They moved the puck out of danger with aplomb and did their thing on the power play: getting pucks to the net.
-- The Umberger-Brassard-Atkinson line had trouble in the early going (matched up against Weber and Josi) but got better as the game wore on. Brassard's shootout winner was straight up filthy, with that quick head fake and move to his forehand that Rinne just could not keep up with.
-- Derek Dorsett fit in well with Anisimov and Dubinsky, digging pucks out of the corners and getting a low cycle going with the two former New York Rangers. You could tell right away that 17 and 42 had played some hockey together over the years, and they were reading each other off the cycle like they'd been there before.
-- Matt Calvert didn't appear on the scoresheet tonight, but he should have. One heck of an effort on the forecheck and the Blue Jackets seemed to feed off his endless energy.
vs. Detroit Red Wings
Nationwide Arena | Columbus, OH
TV: NBC Sports Network (HD)
Radio: 97.1 FM & BlueJackets.com
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