The Blue Jackets head coach pulled an old rabbit out his hat at Wednesday's practice in Ottawa. It may have worked, if only for one game.
But what a momentum-building game it could be.
Rick Nash scored his team-leading 32nd goal of the season in the second period and added the game winner in the shootout, and the Blue Jackets defeated the Senators 3-2 in Scotiabank Place.
After a couple of games in which his performance could be described as lackluster, winger Nikolai Zherdev was arguably the best player on the ice for either side tonight. His third period block on defenseman Andrej Meszaros was key for the Blue Jackets stability in the final frame, and they held a late power play and one in overtime to escape with two crucial points.
Center Sergei Fedorov, playing his third game after sustaining a concussion in mid-January, auditioned very well for a team rumored to be interested in his services come Tuesday. He tied the game in the third period with a rocket slapshot just inside Ray Emery's short-side post, and was a steadying presence regardless of what line he played on.
Goaltender Pascal Leclaire made 27 saves, a few of the monumental variety, to keep the Blue Jackets afloat. Late third period stops on Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza were key, as he thwarted a shooting gallery in the extra period. With Ottawa on a power play and under a minute remaining in OT, Leclaire stood tall as shot after shot strathed the Columbus net.
Jiri Novotny's first game back saw him bring his usual dependable game to the Blue Jackets lineup. He bounced around from top line to second line throughout the game, took a couple of huge hits in the neutral zone and won key faceoffs in the defensive zone. He filled in very well for Michael Peca, a late scratch with the flu.
Coupled with Vancouver's shootout win, the Blue Jackets' win keeps them five points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
They travel to Montreal on Saturday night to face a team that has seen both the remarkable and discouraging on their home ice in the past week.