Sunday, February 8, 2009

Could not have been scripted any better.

Of all the strange theories about the Jackets terrible luck, none could have been more unusual than the events that took place last night.

The curse appeared to be making a comeback. The Jackets had suffered three straight losses coming into Saturday night's game against top ranked San José. Plus, Jackets starter and star goalie Steve Mason was sidelined by mononucleosis. Regulars Jakub Voracek (upper body injury), Mike Commodore (food poisoning) and Marc Methot would all be out as well. Then, the day of the game, it was announced that recently acquired backup goalie Wade Dubielewicz would be out with the flu. The curse was strong.

The Jackets depth, specifically goal tending depth was put to test. A third-round pick in 2004, Dan LaCosta was our only hope. The only NHL game experience he had thus far was in two relief appearances. He had allowed a combined two goals on 24 shots.

Some would say there was no hope against the Sharks. But the Blue Hairs showed up and gave it their all, hoping the spirits would at least show some mercy. Mercy was not necessary.

The Jackets came out strong. The game started with a flurry of fists between Dorsett and Clowe. Then a goal by Williams with less than two minutes into the first period. Nash followed at 9:33 with his first goal in five games, giving the Jackets and LaCosta a two goal cushion.

The second period was not as intense. With just 54 seconds into the second period Setoguchi put San Jose on the board. I think I fell asleep for the rest of the period. A fist-to-cuffs between Boll and former Jacket Jody Shelley did catch my attention for a moment.

Then in the third period the Jackets began to pick up the pace. Setting up the puck, showing great coordination, the Jackets looked strong. But this pace was not enough to score. We were stung with a goal by Ehrhoff, pushing the game into OT. But we had a chance in this important game and the crowd knew it.

The arena was standing loud and proud when overtime began. It has been said that noise can ward off bad spirits as well as boosting the spirit of our players. We were doing our part. That is when the worst possible scenario materialized before our eyes. A break was made by none other than San Jose's 6'-4" Joe Thortan – who is considered to be one of the leagues best players. There he was, like slow motion, coming at rookie goalie LaCosta, one-on-one. Thortan shoots at close range and as if the hockey gods wanted to prove a point, the puck appeared to bounce off LaCosta's noggin' and fly right. No goal. The arena went berserk.

The fans would have been happy with that – happy that another Jackets rookie did something amazing. But it didn't end there. With all the excitement the next few exchanges went unnoticed. Then in the darkness of the midwest evening and through the ceiling of the indoor arena, the clouds parted, and a beam of heavenly light came down upon Jackets Christian Backman. Assisted by Umberger and Hejda, Backman was given a blessed puck and scored at 1:33 in overtime. This game, epically played and seemingly spiritually directed, was over. The curse has once again been shaken into submission.

Nice work Jackets. Shake the Curse.

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