As cliche’ as it sounds, every point in the standings is crucial from here on out. A Columbus Blue Jackets‘ win over the Nashville Predators seemed all the more important in the wake of Ryan Murray’s injury being much worse than initially announced. Add in the fact the Jackets had a 6-1 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks the game before, this game suddenly seemed to carry a bit more weight.
The Jackets responded with another slow start, being outshot 14-5 by the predators in the first period. Columbus came to life in the second, responding by outshooting the Preds 15-4. Neither team had lit the lamp after the first two stanzas though.
It was a goaltender’s duel between two quality netminders: Peka Rinne and last year’s Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky. Both stole a period when their skaters in front of them lost all the momentum for a 20-minute duration. Rinne was particularly impressive and clutch during the Jackets’ five power-play opportunities.
It was simply a matter of what goaltender would slip up first.
Unfortunately for Rinne, Artem Anisimov has been playing like a man on fire since team Russia’s disappointing performance in Sochi. The Russian found a way to tuck a backhander through Rinne’s five hole upon receiving a return pass from James Wisniewski, giving Columbus a crucial goal. It was Anisimov’s sixth goal in six games. Lately, Anisimov has been validating GM Jarmo Kekalainen‘s claims that Arty is a good player but could become a great one.
Ultimately the predators couldn’t respond — thanks mostly to some amazing, borderline miraculous late-game heroics from Bobrovsky. The Jackets got a win and two all-important points for their playoff ambitions. They’re just one point back from third in the Metro and a coveted playoff spot.
There were a lot of positives to take away from this game. During the Jackets’ Central Division years, Bridgestone Arena was a perpetual house of horrors for Columbus. Getting a win there, even as a member of the Metro, is always satisfying. The new acquisition from the trade deadline, Nick Schultz, and all the youth in experience in Columbus’s back end jelled for a superb defensive showing.