It was a “must win” situation for the Columbus Blue Jackets with a chance to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the line. When it came in their final divisional match-up against a team that has walked all over them since their inception, they made it count.
Brandon Dubinsky scored a goal and an assist while stellar netminder Sergei Bobrovsky made 19 saves as the Columbus Blue Jackets downed the Nashville Predators 3-1 in front of a ravenous sold out crowd at Nationwide Arena.
While the story of the game may have been more of the desperate come-from-behind win by the Jackets, Chris Mason did his best to steal the show, amazingly stopping 44 of 46 shots in the loss to Columbus.
“Obviously you don’t like losing, but sometimes you play hard and you end up losing games. You saw a desperate team there, that’s the way they’ve been playing all year,” said Predators goaltender Chris Mason. “They never give up, they scrap and claw. They threw everything at us in the third period and won the game, they did their part.”
With Mason playing on top of his head, in what was perhaps the best game of his season, the Predators found themselves up against a desperate team looking for a desperate win with a chance to get themselves into the post-season.
“We knew it was going to be a battle and we knew what we were coming into and how important it was for them. I thought we came out and played pretty good for a couple of periods, obviously Mase played outstanding, but it was a solid game. Just some unbelievable chances. Goalie battle out there for a long time, we just came up short,” said Predators forward Mike Fisher. “We’ve been in that situation before, where you have to find a spark. They got that one and you could tell they were energized and pumped up. We were just trying to whether the storm, but we just couldn’t do it.”
The effort was there for Nashville. The end result? It was not, however. The Predators were increasingly being outshot throughout the course of the game, even with the 1-0 lead. Columbus’ barrage of 20+ shots in the final frame was too much and it went downhill after the Jackets tied the game.
“They had a lot of desparation in their game, got their first goal on the powerplay and the second goal we may have shot in our own net. We had some great chances, but that sort of epitomizes our year right there,” said head coach Barry Trotz. “I thought we played really hard, but their desparation level got ramped up to playoff level and we just couldn’t stay with them. They were able to capitalize.”
Nashville finished the season 16-23-9 to fall all the way to 27th overall in the entire league. Come Monday, we’ll find out where the Predators will draft in June’s NHL Entry Draft. Nashville, who currenly stands to draft fourth, has a 10.7% chance of winning the lottery and drafting first.
Regardless of what happens on Monday, a sense of relief and failure came across the Predators players and staff this evening after the game was done. With missing out on the post-season, the team will have a chance to take a step back and look at the situation as a whole to figure out what’s next for Nashville and where they go from here.