Tonight I attended my first ever NHL game. Two weeks ago I bought a ticket online to see the Blue Jackets take on the Buffalo Sabres, thinking it was just an average home game, but when I got to Nationwide Arena, I saw what must have been at least 1,000 Buffalo fans crowded about the entrance...all chanting "Lets go Buff-a-lo" over and over again. I soon found out that this was no ordinary game, but that the Jackets were facing the team who currently is the best in the the NHL Eastern Conference and the 2nd best in the entire NHL. In the hour leading up the the game Sabres fans strutted about the arena repeating their simple chants and acting very sure of a win....in fact, I'll admit that I was pretty sure Buffalo would win too. Then the game started, and the Jackets held their own and looked decent. They scored first on a Rick Nash power play goal to take a 1-0 lead, but soon found themselves tied 1-1 after the Sabres answered with a power play goal of their own. The 2nd period went like it should have on paper. Buffalo dominated Columbus and out shot them 15-4,. However, the Sabres only got one goal out of it, and took a 2-1 lead into the 2nd intermission. They key play of the 2nd period came with 18 seconds left when Buffalo failed to score on a penalty shot they had been awarded when a Columbus player tripped a Sabre who had a breakaway attempt. This gave the Jackets some momentum which they took into the 3rd period. With 14:38 to go in the game Rostislav Klesla scored to tie the game at 2, and the Jackets faithful at Nationwide Arena soon began to sense something and the atmosphere changed a bit. The "Lets go Sabres" cheers that dominated the 2nd period were now being drowned out by "Lets go Jackets" cheers. Then, 4 minutes later the place went absolutely nuts.....a shot by Jason Chimera was blocked and the rebound went to Dan Fritsche, whose first attempt was blocked by Sabre goalie Ryan Miller and it rebounded right back to Dan....and he put it in. The Jackets now had a 3-2 lead, and proceded to sit on it, by playing outstanding defense. With 2:29 to play the Jackets got a power play, and then a minute later got another. This power play prevented Buffalo from being able to pull their goalie, and the Jackets were able to run out the clock and claim victory. It was a great game and I'm glad I chose it to be my first. Buffalo fans were shocked and frustrated as they left the arena. It was a very fun atmosphere for Jackets fans. Columbus is now 19-25.
In other news, the Cavs beat Philadelphia 105-97 and are now 25-18 and in a three way tie for first in the Eastern Conference.