Welcome back to Last Word on Hockey’s summer series where we look at the biggest game in team history. Each day we will be back with a new team to look at. Looking at things like the lead-up, what happened, followed, and why it makes it the biggest game. The biggest game does not automatically mean a win, either. Sometimes, it can be a loss that set the franchise back massively. Sit back and enjoy as we break down all 31 teams’ most important game. In this article, we will discuss the Columbus Blue Jackets biggest game in franchise history. The full series is found here.
Columbus Blue Jackets Biggest Game in Franchise History.
For most of their history, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been bottom dwellers. However, as of recent the Blue Jackets have been perennial Stanley Cup Playoff contenders. The list of games that can be considered the biggest in franchise history is smaller than most. Still, Columbus has some games to decide from, but one game, in particular, stands out. The game that is being referenced happened just in the teams most recent seven games. April 16th, 2019 Game 4 vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It could be argued that the April 8th, 2009 game vs. the Chicago BlackHawks could take this spot. A game where Rick Nash scored with 5:30 left in the game to tie it up, from there it went to overtime and the Blue Jackets clinched a playoff spot. It could also be argued that Game 4 vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 23rd, 2014. Where Brandon Dubinsky scored with 24 seconds left to tie the game, Nick Foligno scored the game-winner in overtime.
The Build-Up To Game 4
Heading into this series the Lightning had just come off a historic season and were the favourite to win the Stanley Cup. The Blue Jackets were given on chance to win the series, the first period of game one showed why. Columbus trailed 3-0 after 20 minutes of play, but from that point on Columbus dominated the series. They came back to win Game one and then easily won games two and three with ease.
A long-time waiting
After game three, it became apparent that the Blue Jackets could pull off a historic upset and win their first playoff series at home. Even though Nationwide Arena only holds 18,500 people for hockey games over 19,000 people packed into the downtown arena to watch this game.
The start of the Columbus Blue Jackets biggest games
Those fans got a chance to get into the game in the first minute when the Lightning’s Ryan McDonagh was called for slashing. Alex Texier, who was playing in his seventh game as a Blue Jackets, scored the power-play goal to get the arena rocking early. A minute later, Pierre-Luc Dubois made it a 2-0 Columbus lead.
Columbus was looking like they would dispatch the Lightning with no issue in game four. Steven Stamkos though helped bring Tampa Bay back into the game scoring at the 8:44 mark to make it 2-1 in favour of Columbus. That would be the score after 20 minutes of play.
The second period was a back and forth offensive explosion. Seth Jones scored six minutes in to extend the Blue Jackets lead to 3-1. However, the Lightning would then score two straight goals to tie the game at three. The first one came with 6:57 left in the period, the second on the power-play with 2:06 left.
When it looked like the Lightning were going to carry momentum into the third period Oliver Bjorkstrand switched momentum right back. With 1:36 left in the period he scored to give Columbus the lead again by a score of 4-3.
The third period of the game was a tight one, and both teams played scared. A result of both sides was afraid to make a mistake and either tie the game up or go down two goals. With three minutes left, Tampa Bay pulled Andrei Vasilevskiy from his net in favour of the extra attacker.
A moment later Artemi Panarin got a lucky bounce and put the puck in the back of the net. That symbolized that Columbus finally got over the first-round hump. A celebration ensued that was so loud it was hard to hear the cannon fire off in the arena. The Blue Jackets would go on to score two other empty-net goals, one from Texier and the other Matt Duchene. Those goals were icing on the cake.
Columbus finally got a moment it was waiting 19 years for, as post-game interviews were being done on the ice the stands stayed utterly full. This game was one for the history books when it comes to Columbus sports.
When the Blue Jackets decided to go all-in and backed their horse splendidly, they did it with the expectation that players like Panarin, Bobrovsky, and Duchene were probably gone come July 1st, 2019. Was it worth it in the end? It could be argued either way. Columbus had a night it will never forget. In the process, the Blue Jackets upset one of the best teams to ever play in the NHL’s regular season.
That said, there was not a “long-term payoff” as the Blue Jackets would fall to the Boston Bruins in six games in the second round. Despite the loss to Boston, the first-round win still had the effect of rejuvenating the energy in this fanbase. The game also got the interest of new fans in the Columbus area as well.
With huge short term investments, come the long term pitfalls. In the seasons to come, it’ll be interesting to see what those may be or if there will be any at all. Nevertheless, Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning will live on forever in Blue Jackets lore. They may not have won the Cup, but the game became the Columbus Blue Jackets Biggest Game in franchise history.