Who was that masked man?

Discussion in 'HFNHL Talk' started by Ohio Jones, Dec 12, 2005.

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  1. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    Ottawa fans could be forgiven for asking the question after having to come back in the third to earn a 2-2 tie against the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets last night.

    Jackets backup netminder Michael Leighton was the thief in quesiton, who stole a point from the defending Stanley Cup Champion Senators in his first start of the season.

    The Jackets left Leighton to face a season-high 38 shots, but the 24-year-old stood tall, stopping all but two in relief of Martin Brodeur, who had been increasingly inconsistent following a string of 6 starts in 7 nights.

    The heavy schedule appeared to have taken its toll on the Jackets, as well. Carrying a 2-1 lead into the third period, the Jackets' tank ran dry, and the Sens poured on the hits and the shots, until Jason Allison was finally able to slide the tying goal past Leighton with 4 minutes left on the clock. It was Allison's second on the night. The Sens continued to dominate through the extra frame, but were stoned at every turn by Leighton.

    Vyacheslav Kozlov continued his hot hand since coming to the Jackets, notching both of Columbus' goals to stay among the league leaders in the category.

    The tie means the Jackets have managed to get at least a point out of 5 of their 7 starts, including the overtime loss against Detroit on opening night. Despite having only one win so far, the Jackets are still within a game of the playoff picture. Coach Mike Babcock, while unsatisfied with the team's record, thinks that's a good sign.

    "We've been competitive in every game. We've dominated in some games, and held our own in the rest. We've generally outshot and outhit our opponents, we just haven't been getting the bounces. Tonight we just ran out of gas against a top team after a brutal schedule. If we get a little rest in, and continue to play that hard forechecking game, the wins will come.

    "At the end of the day, that's what matters: play as well as you like, there comes a time when you just have to get it done and earn the win. We haven't shown that closer's instinct yet, and while it's early to call that a cause for concern, it's definitely starting to weigh on people's minds here."

    It might be a little harder for the next week or two. The Jackets lost top-line LW Geoff Sanderson early in the first period when he appeared to tweak a groin muscle trying to avoid one of Derian Hatcher's game-high five hits. There was no penalty called on the play. When it seemed the Jackets would hold off the Sens' assault in the third, they lost stalwart blueliner Mattias Norstrom when he dropped to the ice to block a Sergei Gonchar point shot. Norstrom left with an undisclosed "upper body injury". Both Sanderson and Norstrom are expected to be out at least a week.

    That's not good news, as the Jackets continue their heavy travel schedule, returning home to host western conference rival Anaheim, fresh off an annihalation of the Dallas Stars, in which the Ducks pumped in a leaue-best 10 goals.

    With the night of rest under his belt, Martin Brodeur is expected back in net tonight for Columbus.

    The Jackets will have to hope Brodeur will be inspired by Leighton's play and contribute his own first-star performance if they are to earn that second win.

    Milo Minderbinder
    Columbus Discoverer
     
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