After a Jekyll and Hyde kind of weekend against division foes Chicago and Detroit, the Columbus Blue Jackets faced a crucial game against another team allowing little room for error: the Calgary Flames.
And with their backs up against the playoff-bound wall, the Jackets did not disappoint on Tuesday night.
Many of you will remember the last time these two teams met. Earlier this month at the Saddledome the Jackets outplayed the Flames. The squads seemed evenly matched, and Craig Conroy's goal proved to be the decision maker.
This time, it would go in the Jackets' favor.
In my humble opinion, Calgary is one of the most exciting NHL teams to watch, and I really like how they match up against Columbus.
Both teams are extremely physical and tend to do an excellent job in controlling the defensive zone. Both feature top-notch goaltenders in Miikka Kiprusoff and Pascal Leclaire, but also scoring threats such as Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash.
The comparisons could go on forever.
Tuesday night, the teams were not so evenly matched as the Jackets handled the Flames 3-0, giving backup goaltender Fredrik Norrena his first shutout since February of last year. The Jackets were able to control the defensive zone, allowing the Flames only 18 shots while taking 48 of their own.
The game was extremely physical. The roughing penalties handed out all night even reminded me of going to the zoo. It was almost as if someone threw a piece of raw meat in the middle of a pack of starving wolves.
Seventy penalty minutes were assessed, 36 to the Flames and 34 to the Jackets. Once again, evenly matched.
A few who rolled up their sleeves and dropped their gloves were Craig Conroy, Cory Sarich, Jason Chimera, and Jared Boll—who had a personal vendetta to settle with Calgary forward Daymond Langkow.
Langkow would later receive a standing ovation from the Nationwide faithful when penalized during the course of the game, seeing as how he got away with a slash to the knee of Boll in their previous contest earlier this month in Calgary.
But overall, this effort was by far the strongest and most complete game I have witnessed at Nationwide all season, and the surprisingly small crowd of 14,270 all left with a smile. That is, unless they happened to have the flaming "C" on their jerseys.
The three stars of the game were Rick Nash (1 G, 2 A), Manny Malhotra (2 G), and Fredrik Norrena (18 saves).
A personal star award goes to Dan Fritsche, who promised that the Jackets would be "all over Calgary" on Tuesday night.
He backed up his bold comments with two assists and happened to be on the ice for each of Columbus's three goals. Fritsche played alongside Malhotra and Nash to replace Fredrik Modin, who is still suffering from the flu.