The Columbus Blue Jackets had just fallen to 3-0 in the first period of game four of the best of seven series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. It looked as if their window to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals was slowly closing.
Watching from home as I had done for the past three games, I wasn’t worried. In fact, armed with the knowledge the previous three games were all come from behind victories, I watched the next two periods with relative calm.
The Blue Jackets did not disappoint, as they slowly clawed their way back to a 3-2 deficit more than midway thru the 3rd period. Center Ryan Johansen once again showed a flare for the dramatic, as it was his power play goal that would cut the Penguins lead to one.
Yet there was still work to do. Columbus needed at least one more goal to send the game into overtime, or they faced the prospect of heading to Pittsburgh facing an elimination game. I still believed they could do it. After all, this team has literally faced adversity all season long, and every time it seemed they bounced back even stronger.
Within the final minutes, my best friend and I sent dozens of text back and forth. Such as who would
be the hero to send the game into OT (I said Johansen, naturally), and also that if the CBJ were to pull out game four, I would get tickets to game six.
As the game entered the final minute of regulation, it appeared that it was over. Then Brandon Dubinsky became the hero Columbus fans were looking for, and my friend and I are of course heading to game six on Monday night.
The outcome has typified what is now a very different hockey club. A few years ago I had almost written off the Jackets completely. Yet now the mixture of veterans such as Dubinsky and RJ Umberger, along with rookies such as Ryan Murray and Boone Jenner—both of whom are playing like veterans—has transformed this franchise into a contender. They are also making me believe that the Blue Jackets—who have established three franchise firsts in the past three weeks—have a legitimate shot to win this series.