Starting out this game, I was kind of nervous. Not only because it's the first time I would write an article (Knowing my luck, they'd blow the game and lose 6-5) but logically, seeing how the Jackets have been on and off. (More off than on this season) However, they pulled it together, and took the first period “track meet” and made something great out of it. Noel seemed to have complete control of the team after he took the timeout about halfway into the second period.
One thing I liked about the game, was that from the first faceoff to the final cannon shot, the crowd was electric. Several times, I turned down the TV because it was so loud, just from the crowd. The crowd's electricity was warranted by the physical play of both sides. At the end of the game, there were 52 hits credited overall. Unfortunately for the Sabres, their netminder, Patrick Lalime, looked flat-out exhausted. He was moving slow from post to post, but still managed to make all seven saves in the first period. The Jackets took several shots away by knocking them down with sticks and body parts alike. Our boys looked entirely awake and energized. It wasn't hard to tell they wanted to win this game, as they kept the pressure heavy during the first period, and throughout the entire game. They kept the puck safe in the d-zone by employing a variety of passes, only giving the puck away six times. Clark even stole the puck deep in the zone to create a shorthanded scoring opportunity. Mase was more than awake, as he was closing shooting lanes, seeing through traffic, quickly resetting to center, hugging the posts, nullifying rebounds, skating post to post, and making amazing saves, in the crease and out. It was a reminiscence to his play from last year. Voracek nearly snapped his scoring drought by breaking free and releasing a second effort shot. Blunden, who had just been recalled as Commodore was placed on the IR, retroactive to the 30th of January, had four shots, and five hits in the game. The whole team was on the ice, and they played well to win this game.
The red light was employed a lot tonight, starting with Jurcina's shot, having been recorded in excess of 110 miles per hour, which deflected off the glass, and hit off Lalime's skate, and trickled across the line, shortly after the first power-play ended. Lalime made a great save during Rivet's double minor for Hi-Sticking. It wasn't enough to stop Nash, as he dove, struck the puck with his stuck, and put it in the back of the net, high stick side. Torres then had a great Tic-Tac-Toe passing setup, leading to Voracek's missed shot on an open net. The Jackets then had a great steal, which was quickly taken away at the offensive blue line. Quickly in the third period, the Jackets scored again on the 4 on 4. The crowd was clearly present, chanting “Chile!” in time with Bob Dawson. (http://bluejackets.nhl.com/club/podcastplayer.htm?pid=65&iid=14406 if you want to hear it without the Jackets having to score three times.) Shortly after, Torres scored on the power-play again to make it 4-0. Russell made a great effort to get to the net on a breakaway, but didn't convert. Throughout the game, there were tons of scoring chances made by the effort given by the Jackets. Later in the third, Boll knocked the much larger, 6' 8” Tyler Myers off the puck, and Blunden took this opportunity to take it to the net. The crowd was even louder at the end, as more and more people started to whistle as the game ended, 4-0. The cannon fired one last time, as the Jackets went out to celebrate with Mase, and head back to the locker room. Fun fact for every fan; the last time the Jackets won with 4 or more goals was against the Calgary Flames on March 26, 2009, 5-0.
Overall tonight, the Jackets converted on four of their twenty five shots, while Mase shutout the Sabres, becoming a brick wall in front of twenty eight shots.
My Three Stars
Steve Mason; Blocked twenty eight of twenty eight, and was wide awake on the ice
Jakub Voracek; Three assists, overall +2. Took three shots, and even landed a hit
Mike Blunden; Nothing to show, but one large amount of effort. Noel would be smart to keep this guy.