By Wild Road Tripper
The Columbus Blue Jackets showed again tonight why they are 14th in the NHL's Western Conference, and why teams like the Minnesota Wild beat them, 4-2, as in Saturday night's 'Hockey Day Minnesota' feature game, as the Wild played a solid 59 minutes of good, quality hockey. The victory ran the Wild's all-time record on 'Hockey Day Minnesota', to 2-1-1.
But, about that 60th minute; we'll get to that later.
The first 59 were good, solid hockey, punctuated by the two goals of Mikko Koivu, Eric Belanger's surprise throw-in towards tough-luck Jackets goalie Steve Mason, and Robbie Earl showing again why he could be a finisher-in-training for the offensively-beleagured Wild. And, for good measure, Derek Boogaard made short work of Jared Boll, as Boogaard showed again why he is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the NHL. Even maligned defenseman Marek Zidlicky wound up a +3 for the night.
But it was that 60th minute that shocked the 18,173 in attendance, as the Jackets, behind goals by Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette, not only blew Niklas Backstrom's shutout, but closed the gap quickly to 4-2, but the last goal was scored with 3 seconds left in the contest, and the Wild walked away, victorious in regulation time for the first time in a week and a half, but the Jackets late antics (including a Nash-Nick Schultz fight; yes, you read it correctly, folks -- Schultzie dropped the purse!) left a bitter taste in the mouth of Head Coach Todd Richards, as he explained in his post-game press conference.
Jeff Rimer, Jackets play-by-play announcer, wrote yesterday for his blog on Bluejackets.com that the Jackets believe that they are still a legitimate playoff contender. After last night, the two most descriptive words about the playoff hopes of Columbus would be:
Next Game: vs. Detroit, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 7:00 PM Central (8:00 PM Eastern) Time, Xcel Energy Center. (Wild TV: FSNorth; Detroit TV: FSDetroit; both feeds in HD; XM Radio, Ch. 208)