Great news: The Blue Jackets’ obnoxious cannon only fired once tonight.
Bad news: That was still good enough for a win after the Wild suffered its fourth 1-0 shutout loss of the season.
The Wild tightened up the way coach Bruce Boudreau hoped it would tonight, but Sergei Bobrovsky stopped all 38 shots he faced to win his career-high 33rd game.
The Wild pushed hard late, but man, the Blue Jackets did a marvelous job collapsing down low, blocking every Wild shot heading toward the net and keeping the Wild from getting inside of them.
“It definitely didn’t look like a 40-shot game against us,” Boudreau said after Devan Dubnyk stopped 39 of 40 shots against. “I thought we had way much better of the play. But there were some bad calls out there.”
And that’s when the coach opened the door for follow-ups.
He was not pleased with rule 49.2 being used to overturn Erik Haula’s second-period goal (and frankly if he ever sees the video of Antoine Roussel’s playoff goal last year against the Wild, he may blow an even bigger gasket because Roussel kicked the puck over the net, off Devan Dubnyk’s back and in, yet the NHL found cause to overturn a waved-off goal).
Basically, in this case, Haula’s crashing the net in a battle with a defender. Marco Scandella’s rebound pops out, Haula kicks the puck with his right skate, the puck’s heading way wide toward the corner but deflects in off William Karlsson’s skate.
From being in the Situation Room on three different occasions and talking to the gents in there about this particular rule, I tweeted a couple times before the ruling that this may not go the Wild’s way.
According to Rule 49.2, "a goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who kicks a puck that deflects into the net off any player, goalkeeper or official."
“OK,” Boudreau said. “Rule 49.2 or whatever the dash mark says an opposing player cannot kick the puck and deflect off any other player. Well first of all, the puck wasn’t kicked at the net. He was trying to kick it up to his skate because it was going five feet wide. And they put it in their own net. So, I don’t see how in Toronto that they’re calling it unless it’s a guy they just pulled in off the street that hasn’t seen hockey before. I mean that was surely the play, and I don’t get it.”
Said Dubnyk: “Crazy rule. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. We’ve got to change pants in the middle of the year to get more goals, but if a guy kicks the puck toward the corner of the rink and it goes off somebody, that’s not a goal.”
Said Haula, “If that’s the rule, it’s the worst rule I’ve ever heard.”
Haula said one of the refs told him if the puck deflected in off Karlsson’s stick and not body, it would have been a goal (which is true, and weird).
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Haula said. “I just don’t understand how that can be a rule, especially when they’re trying to get more goals. It’s a 1-0 game, so it makes it even more frustrating.”
Boudreau then lit into referees Chris Rooney and Francois StLaurent, and frankly the officiating was shoddy both ways. Christian Folin got away with what should have been a double-minor high-stick, Seth Jones was called for a pretty soft slashing penalty.
But the one I think was egregious came in the second period after defenseman David Savard shoved Eric Staal onto Bobrovsky.
Savard then jumped on Staal, began repeatedly punching the veteran in the head with all his might, then began muscling the back of Staal’s head into the ice. It took awhile for Staal to get up and you can see him slumping over on the side of the bench during the ensuing shifts.
You want to get concussions out of the game? Have two professional referees protect the head of an NHL veteran who’s two weeks from playing his 1,000th game.
The ref’s job is to protect the players from that type of dangerous, reckless stuff. Should have been called, in my opinion.
Staal, to his credit, just smiled: “Couple extra punches for Savard, but sometimes that’s the way it goes. It was competitive. Two good teams all night battling.”
Boudreau then brought up the refs not calling Mikko Koivu taking a “wicked” slash five minutes before a “chincy, little backhand touch,” Boudreau said, they called on Nino Niederreiter.
The one that really had Boudreau steaming was StLaurent calling Martin Hanzal for elbowing Bobrovsky with 1:23 left. StLaurent’s penalty – which came after Hanzal had to fight through interference from Savard to get to the goalmouth – effectively ended the Wild’s hopes of tying the score.
“You want to give Hanzal an elbowing penalty for that in front of the net, that’s great, but you’ve got to give an embellishing penalty for the goaltender for throwing his head back as if somebody just shot a bullet and hit him in the head,” Boudreau said. “I mean, that’s freaking awful.”
Boudreau felt the Wild had the better of the play and chances, and even though it gave up 40 shots, he felt the Wild defended well.
All in all, without Zach Parise and Jason Pominville, whom Boudreau hopes practice Saturday, four out of six points is “not all that bad,” the coach said. “It’s just the team behind us (Chicago) doesn’t want to lose any games, so we don’t want to lose any either.”
Dubnyk saved the Wild’s hide in the first period and had stopped 31 shots before Brandon Saad scored the lone goal early in the third. Ryan Suter did a good job recovering into the zone, but Saad’s shot tipped Suter’s stick and knuckled. Dubnyk couldn’t smother the bobbly puck. The puck fell in the crease, Dubnyk said he got all “twisted” trying to smother it with his glove and unfortunately for the Wild, Saad was first on the puck and nudged the puck enough that it just crept inside the post and few inches over the goal line before stopping.
“That’s a real good hockey team,” Dubnyk said. “They were great in our end. Even from my end I could see they were doing a great job collapsing in front and making it tough, and Bob was down there doing what he does and making great saves.
The Wild had decent looks at Bobrovsky when it did penetrate the slot. Staal, who has only one empty-net goal in the past 18 games, was denied on a breakaway. You can see how ticked he was with himself after the save.
“I’d like to be a difference maker and bury one for our team to get us ahead there,” Staal said. “I was looking to go low blocker and he didn’t go down, so I should have went through his legs. It would have been an easy one.”
Other guys need to step up, too. Charlie Coyle, for one, has no points in the past seven games and is minus-7.
The Wild surely hope Parise and Pominville is back soon. They were certainly missed on the Wild’s 0 for 4 power play tonight.
“We know we’ve got guys can fill. We can fill, Schroeds and Grao are fine, but those are two big pieces for us, so it’s exciting to picture what the lineup’s going to be and what we’re going to be capable of when we add those two guys back in the mix and how deep we’re going to be,” Dubnyk said.
That’s it for me. Good game between two good teams. Jackets are 7-2 in the past nine meetings with Minnesota. Seveth all-time Columbus shutout vs. Minnesota.
Wild’s off Friday. Barring news, no blog as I work on my Saturday story and Sunday Insider package.
Reminder: Sports from Hell podcast will be at Hell’s Kitchen at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Anthony LaPanta will be joining me for what’s bound to be a fun time.