The Blue Jackets suffered yet another humiliating defeat tonight.
This time, it was the red-hot Washington Capitals who rallied from 2-0 and late 3-2 deficits to win in overtime, 4-3.
Alex Ovechkin scored the overtime winner at 2:28, and added the Caps' first goal of the night. Backup Brent Johnson shook off a rough start and carried the Capitals into overtime, making several key saves down the stretch.
Rick Nash scored a franchise-first 5-on-3 shorthanded goal
to get the Jackets on the board late in the first period, and added another midway through the third period. The latter was a freakish play, with Washington defenseman Shaone Morrisonn colliding with hapless referee Bill McCreary at the blueline, allowing Nash to walk in home free. As frustrated as the Caps appeared, they didn't take it heavily, hemming the Blue Jackets in their own zone for the next two minutes.
However, the tale of the night was Pascal Leclaire's injury
. A gasp went about Nationwide Arena when he collided with Quintin Lang and teammate Jan Hejda. For good reason, too. Leclaire suffered a strained neck muscle and will not travel with the team to Phoenix and San Jose. Tough break for a guy who's fought hard all year, and finally earned the respect of the NHL.
Head coach Ken Hitchcock said after the game
that junior standout Steve Mason will be recalled from Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League. Based on Hitchcock's impressions of backup Fredrik Norrena after tonight's game, it's a safe bet Mason will play one of the two games on the trip.
Leclaire may return as early as Sunday
at home vs. Los Angeles, but even that seems in doubt currently. With veterans Sergei Fedorov and Fredrik Modin out of the lineup, the Blue Jackets are entering dire straits.
These are the days when heart and courage must overcome skill and ego, and when determination powers away excuses.
Basically, it's gutcheck time.