For all the meaningless midseason games in another year without playoffs that for some reason or another got the tag “biggest game in franchise history” attached to them, last night’s game really did deserve that imprimatur. After crapping the bed against St. Louis on Sunday, and raising all sorts of troubling questions in the minds of their fans about whether this team really was playoff-bound and playoff-ready, the Jackets needed to beat Nashville last night. In order to stay in sixth, in order to put some more daylight between themselves and ninth, and most especially to show once and for all that they can and will step up when the going gets rough.
And they did it last night. That game will win no great accolades for its beauty and style. It was a tense, tight, low-scoring affair from start to end — i.e., modern-day NHL playoff hockey. You grind and grind, hope like hell you don’t make a mistake, and hope the other guy does. And the Jackets did it, and came out on top of their rivals from Tennessee. A lot of people should be breathing a bit easier in Columbus today.
On the down side, the crowd was disappointing. I know it was a Tuesday night, and those are always tough draws, but the vast swathes of empty seats (the upper bowl shoot once end looked virtually deserted) at a game of this import were depressing. The official attendance was 14,495. Not the worst in franchise history at all, but that just shouldn’t happen a week before the end of the regular season when playoffs are on the line.