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Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Conference.’

Blue Jackets minus Rick Nash, beats Atlanta 2-1

Columbus, O.- The Blue Jackets played last night’s game without their captain and best player, Rick Nash who is out day-to-day with lower body injuries. Usually, it spells diasaster for Columbus when Nash is not in the lineup. But Columbus didn’t miss a beat without Nash and from the opening face-off to the final buzzer, they kept the pressure on Atlanta and their goaltender, Johan Hedberg.

R.J. Umberger (cbj)

Mathieu Garon (cbj)

It’s hard to believe that Atlanta, an Eastern Conference team and a member of the Southeast Division, is fighting for a playoff spot. They sit in 10th place behind the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins for that coveted 8th spot. This is a team that most fans wouldn’t recognize their roster. The only recognizable players would be 48-year-old Chris Chelios, (who was making his season debut last night), former Blue Jacket Ron Hainsey, Johan Hedberg and the Marty Reasoner, who was a scratch last night. Atlanta even has a better record than Columbus, 28-28-10. Having said that, Columbus has better players and better talent and it shows that it has underachieved all season as compared to Atlanta, who has overachieved with less talent. Go figure that.

Columbus used their high energy and entertaining hockey to score first in the opening period.  Capitalizing on a power play opportunity stemming from an interference call on the Thrashers’ Nik Antropov, the Jackets scored as R.J. Umberger scored his 2oth goal of the season on a deflection off of Chris Chelios and a 1-0 lead.

The crowd of  13,459 were thrilled with home team’s high-energy level and they weren’t going to be disappointed in the second period.  The second period had a slower pace but the Jackets kept the pressure on Atlanta Goalie Johan Hedberg as Kristian Huselius made it 2-0 at the 15:25 mark on a rebound shot in a crowd off another deflection. For Huselius, that was his 18th goal of the season to go with his 31st assist on the R.J. Umberger goal in the first period giving him 49 points on the season.

The 3rd period is usually the period where Blue Jackets fans hold their breath even if the team is up 2-0 because anything and everything bad usually happens to this team. Not to mention, in reading Atlanta’s media notes, the third period has been their best period all season. So there was reason for concern with 20:00 minutes of hockey left.

Columbus still had enough energy to battle the Thrashers, but only could muster one shot on goal in the 3rd period.  Atlanta outshot the Jackets 17-1 in the 3rd period. Atlanta finally scored on a strange goal. Johnny Oduya put the puck past Goaltender Mathieu Garon at the 17:39 mark on a deflection off of Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin and it was 2-1 and the fans could be heard from the press box, “oh not again”.

The Blue Jackets committed a  high sticking  penalty (Jan Hejda). So Atlanta, after pulling their Goaltender and having a power play, put a 6-on-4 advantage against the Blue Jackets, the final 1:25 of the game but couldn’t come up with the equalizing goal. The Jackets held on to win 2-1.

“When its not going for you, its not going to go for you. It’s a difficult loss”, Atlanta coach John Anderson said.

SOUNDS FROM THE LOCKER ROOM AND POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE (to listen to an audio file, click the number)

44 498 Chris Chelios Atlanta Defenseman 48 year old first game back in NHL

44 499 Chris Chelios Atlanta is in a playoff race in the Eastern Conference

44 501 Nik Antropov Atlanta Center Losing key game in a playoff run

44 502 Nik Antropov Does it get discouraging losing by giving up 2 flukie goals

44 506 Derek Dorsett Columbus RW The team came out fast and quick in the 1st period

44 507 Derek Dorsett On Goalie Mathieu Garon playing solid tonight

44 511 Kristian Huselius Columbus Team had a nice pace and flow tonight

44 512 Kristian Huselius Does he and teammates like fast pace instead of a slow pace

44 513 Claude Noel Columbus Coach Overall thoughts on the game

44 516 Claude Noel On the versatility of Derek Dorsett filling in for Rick Nash on 1st line

GAME NOTES

* Columbus is now 27-30-11 with 65 points.

* The Blue Jackets are 16-10-7 at home this season.

* The Jackets are 7-5-0 vs Atlanta all-time; 4-2-0 in Columbus; have won 5 of last 6 and 4 straight games.

* With the win over Atlanta, the Blue Jackets are 13=0-2 in its past 15 games against the Southeast Division which also includes Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida and Carolina. Their last loss to a Southeast Division team was November 21, 2007, a 5-2 loss at home to Florida.

* With Thursday night’s win, Columbus is:

18-12-5 when scoring the first goal of the game

11-7-5 when leading after the first period

21-6-4 when leading after the second period.

* LW R.J. Umberger scored his 20th goal of the season last night to give him 20 or more goals in three of his five NHL seasons. he has registered 20 goals, 25 assists for 45 points in 68 games this season leaving him five points shy of matching his career high of 50 points set in 2007-2008 with Philadelphia.

* Chris Chelios, who has starred for Montreal, Detroit and Chicago is glad to be back in the NHL

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