I couldn't care less if you think Columbus is a joke. And I REALLY don't care if you think Rick Nash is overrated, under-performing, and overpaid.
Last night, Rick Nash truly showed all of the NHL what he can do - what the Columbus faithful he knew he had all along.
With just over 10 minutes to go in the 3rd, Nikolai Zherdev (one of the biggest surprises this season) scores a goal to regain the lead of a back and forth game. The score is now 3-2 Jackets. With 3:12 to go in the game, Rick Nash takes a high sticking penalty and goes to the box (and feels shame). With about 26 seconds remaining in the penalty, Hanzal scores the game-tying goal. *insert expletives here* The game is tied with less than a buck forty to go.
Looks just like many games that the Columbus faithful have seen before. And I know that I was not the only one thinking "Okay, we can get one point, but we need to get two." This seemed to be the general consensus among my friends and I, all chatting on AIM, all watching the games on our respective televisions.
But then, something happens. Something so amazing that none of us can believe that what we have just seen has actually happened.
Nash gets an outlet pass from Michael Peca, and off he goes. Nash is dragging Morris and Ballard along with him, two very respectable defensemen. Nash makes some incredible dekes around both Morris and Ballard. Tellqvist seems to get the puck away from Nash after the incredible quadruple-deke, but Rick gets it back - somehow, someway - and scores the eventual game winning goal. The goal is absolutely beautiful - without a doubt a candidate for goal of the year. And, in my opinion, it damn well should be. It's an amazing goal, and knowing that his penalty was what allowed Phoenix to tie the game up in the first place and that he redeemed it is the best part.
(in case there is still someone out there who hasn't seen it yet)
This win moves the Jackets into 9th place of the Western conference.
This was definitely a win that the Jackets needed to begin their five game road trip. The Jackets road record is less than sterling. Before last night, the Jackets road record was 6-12-2. For a team that is trying to make their first playoff appearance, and plays predominantly on the road for the next month and a half, this is not a good sign (counting last nights game, the Jackets have 20 games between now and the end of February, and 14 of the 20 are on the road). But if the Jackets will be able to carry the momentum of the last 4 games (especially last night's win in the desert), then maybe, just maybe, this can be the year for the Jackets, and the Columbus faithful can rejoice, for the will have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.
CARRY THE FLAG!