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Preseason home game #1: post-game vs. Winnipeg

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets
From the opening faceoff, the firsts kept coming for the Blue Jackets tonight at Nationwide Arena.

The 2011-12 preseason opener against the Winnipeg Jets was the first game for each club in this new National Hockey League season, and it was also the first game for the Jets since their return to the league this summer. Columbus scored a pair of power-play goals and cruised to a 5-1 victory in front of 8,855 at Nationwide.

More firsts? You’ve got it. Tonight’s game was also the first split-squad game in either franchise’s history, with another game taking place at MTS Centre in Manitoba.
Now, to the good (or better) stuff.

--- Nick Holden and Antoine Vermette tallied on the man advantage for the Blue Jackets tonight. The unit was fluid, moving pucks low-to-high and generating traffic in front of the net. Winnipeg starting goaltender Chris Mason struggled to see the puck, and it didn’t help that James Wisniewski was teeing off from the point.

--- Maksim Mayorov seems to get better each time he touches NHL ice. He registered a goal and an assist tonight while flying up and down the rink.

--- Can’t say enough about the play of defenseman Radek Martinek; a solid skater and very dependable in his own zone. He made several strong breakout passes to Blue Jackets wingers that created scoring opportunities off the rush – something that the Jets had difficulty adjusting to throughout the game.

--- BOOOOONE. This kid’s going to play in Columbus, perhaps very soon. He played 11:52 seconds of impactful hockey tonight, jamming home the Blue Jackets’ third goal of the evening and eliciting a chorus of “BOOOONE” from the local crowd. Another note on Jenner: he just turned 18 years old, and he plays with the confidence and swagger of a player much older. That’s a good thing.

--- Goaltender Mark Dekanich was composed in a period of work. He makes most of his saves look routine, and was adept at directing rebounds into the corners. He left tonight’s game after the first period with a “lower-body injury,” but acting coach Todd Richards said the decision to remove him from the game was “mostly precautionary.” Paul Dainton came on in relief to get the win, yielding just one goal on 18 shots he faced.

Some Quotables…

Richards, on the game overall: “It was a good way to start the season. The power play was good, the penalty kill was good. Maybe five-on-five we gave up a few too many opportunities but there are games like this when it got a little bit scrambled.

“My initial reaction after the game is that there were a lot of positive things.”

On the Blue Jackets power play (2-for-4 tonight): “The power play executed well and moved the puck up the ice well. Our second (power-play goal) was kind of like a textbook goal, like we’ve practiced for a couple months now. But that’s a credit to the players, because the first time we practiced (that play) was this morning.

On the play of Mayorov: “He scored a beautiful goal; we can use him in different situations – power play, five-on-five and penalty kill. For him to have an impact on this team, he’s got to be reliable in his own end. He’s got great size and great speed, which really adds to this team.”

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