ST. PAUL, Minn. – It was a day of video review for the Columbus Blue Jackets. In the end, every angle showed a win.
The day began with Columbus coach Scott Arniel showing breakdown after breakdown from Friday night’s lacklustre loss to Chicago. It ended with a lengthy replay that confirmed R.J. Umberger’s short-handed goal with just more than nine minutes remaining that gave the Blue Jackets a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.
“We showed a lot of character,” Umberger said. “We’re going to have bumps in the road, and you have to bounce back the next night. It was a character win.”
Arniel, Columbus’ first-year coach, agreed.
“It was more how we wanted to play,” Arniel said. “Just our compete level, just how we do it as 20 guys. That’s what it takes, you learn from your mistakes. We put our nose to the grindstone.”
Brent Burns had a power-play goal, Cal Clutterbuck also scored for the Wild, and Martin Havlat recorded two assists. Niklas Backstrom made 22 saves.
Columbus’ victory wasn’t secured until after a lengthy review of the winning goal. While reviews often produce somewhat anxious times for players, Umberger was confident he got the puck past goalie Niklas Backstrom on his rush.
“He dragged the puck back into the net, it was a good five inches over the line,” said Umberger of his third goal of the season. “I give the refs a lot of credit, they called it on the ice, and the stuck with it.”
Backstrom (1-2-1) wasn’t as certain.
“I don’t think it was in,” Backstrom said. “You know, I think it was under my stomach, the whole time. I get up and it’s under my pad, and at that point it doesn’t cross the line.”
Wild coach Todd Richards was more philosophical.
“Regardless of the call, of what we think, or what really happened, we got what we deserved,” Richards said. “From the start we didn’t really have the urgency that we needed to play, until they counted it a goal. Then it seemed like there was some urgency.”
Minnesota made a late charge and had several good chances to tie the game in the final minute after the Wild pulled Backstrom for an extra skater. However, Mathieu Garon, who made 21 saves, was solid in his first game of the season.
“It’s a big win,” Garon said. “That’s how you want to play. (Friday) was a setback, but everyone worked hard tonight.”
That was what Arniel and his staff emphasized during the morning video session.
“We showed how we handed Chicago two points without competition,” Arniel said. “There was not a lot of screaming and yelling. I just asked, ‘Is that how you want to play the game?'”
Columbus had much better effort against the Blackhawks from the start.
The Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead 13:14 in when Derek Dorsett scored his first of the season. Dorsett jammed in the rebound of a shot from the left circle by Kris Russell.
The Blue Jackets took a 2-1 lead at 9:33 of the second period. Just after an impressive Columbus power play, Blue Jackets forward Derick Brassard found Derek MacKenzie wide open just to the right of Backstrom. MacKenzie quickly fired the puck into the net.
The Wild, who entered as the NHL’s most efficient team on the power play this season, tied the game at 2 with a rare even-strength goal. Clutterbuck knocked in the rebound of Havlat’s shot with 3:17 left in the second period.
The goal was only Minnesota’s second 5-on-5 tally of the season and its first in more than 218 minutes of game action. Minnesota’s only other even-strength came in the first period of the Wild’s opener against Carolina in Finland.
NOTES: The announced attendance of 17,336 was the Wild’s first non-capacity crowd for a regular-season game in franchise history. The team considered its sellout streak snapped when it failed to sell out a preseason game last month. … The Wild announced its All-First Decade team during the first intermission. The team included forwards Andrew Brunette, Marian Gaborik and Mikko Koivu; defencemen Nick Schultz and Burns with Backstrom as the goalie. … Columbus D Anton Stralman was scratched from the lineup one night after sustaining an upper body injury against Chicago. … Columbus’ Kristian Huselius was held without a goal after scoring in each of the previous three games.