Did you ever make that last-minute decision to get to a Blue Jackets game and it ended up being an instant classic?
On the flip side, did you ever have a last-minute change of plans that robbed you from an amazing night of Columbus Blue Jackets hockey?
The Five looks back at the five most entertaining regular season home games in franchise history.
#5: December 31st, 2019
Columbus: 4, Florida: 1
Why? Take your pick of the reasons this game was so captivating. For starters, you could go with the fact that it was the first hat trick in the career of Zach Werenski. Or if goalies are more your thing, it was the first career home start and first career win for Elvis Merzlikins. Oh, and both Werenski and Merzlikins accomplished these firsts against an old foe named Sergei Bobrovsky. Oh, and it was on New Year's Eve in front of a more-than-sellout crowd! (Damn, if only we knew that the start of 2020 was just hours away...)
#4: February 10th, 2001
Columbus: 3, Nashville: 2
Why? The only game on this list from the first half of franchise history. Late in the inaugural season, Geoff Sanderson seized a memorable first for the Nationwide Arena crowd: the first Blue Jackets hat trick in team history. With the game tied in the third period, Sanderson flipped a backhanded shot past Nashville netminder Mike Dunham to give the Jackets the eventual win, and Jackets fans their first opportunity to decorate the ice with their headgear.
#3: April 27th, 2013
Columbus: 3, Nashville: 1
Why? The second time a game against the Predators makes the top five, but the first (and only) time on this list that the moment is bittersweet. In a strike-related shortened season, the Jackets made a late charge to clinch their second playoff spot in team history. With the Jackets and Minnesota Wild tied for the final spot on the last day of the season, the Blue Jackets faithful knew what they needed: a win at home, and a Wild loss. With Columbus trailing 1-0 halfway through the third period, Brandon Dubinsky tied the game at the 10:09 mark of the third period. Five minutes later, Jack Johnson gave Columbus a lead, and Cam Atkinson's empty-netter sealed the deal in the final minute to give the Jackets a 3-1 win. The excitement was short-lived, however, as the Wild defeated the Colorado Avalanche by the same 3-1 tally to clinch the 8th and final spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This would be the final game Columbus would play as a member of the western conference.
#2: December 22nd, 2016
Columbus: 7, Pittsburgh: 1
Why? Columbus had won ten straight games, and was the buzz of the league. Pittsburgh, was, you know, Pittsburgh. These games are always chippy, always high-energy, and always worth the price of admission. This particular game, though, was a statement. After an early Sidney Crosby goal had Penguin fans thinking they were going to kill the streak, Columbus went on to score seven straight goals en route to a 7-1 victory. Four of those goals came in a span of 3:40 in the third period, the last of which gave Scott Hartnell his ninth career hat trick. Columbus made it eleven wins in a row, and would continue the streak into the new year before it came to an end at an unlikely-to-happen-again 16 straight victories.
Eat it, Pens.
#1: November 4th, 2016
Columbus: 10, Montreal: 0
Why? See that score? That's why. The Montreal Canadiens came into Columbus without a regulation loss in their first ten games, starting the season 9-0-1. Personal story time: I was on a first date with a girl who was a hockey novice. I let her know that Montreal was really good, and that it may be a close game, but to not expect Columbus to win.
Egg on my face. Columbus scored three times in the first, five more in the second, and when they scored their 9th goal in the third period, Nationwide Arena (including Anne and I) were chanting for a 10th goal. The Montreal fans behind us were chanting for one. Only one of us got our wish.
Multi-goal scorers in this double-digit victory included current Jackets Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson, as well as former Jackets Scott Hartnell and Josh Anderson. Seth Jones and David Savard had the other two.
(I went on a few more dates with Anne, but, we just weren't compatible. I think she's married now, or something.)
What'd I miss? Go ahead and yell at me.