The folks at Nationwide Arena so desperately want to celebrate something with their team.
After a 3-1 win by the Blue Jackets in Game 3 on Sunday night, they're one step closer. But prior to that, the home team was fueled by one of the largest crowds in franchise history – a standing-room only bunch that was vibing from the pre-game introductions all the way to the final horn.
We're often guilty of being too hyperbolic about things like "atmosphere" and "electricity" in sports, but tonight in Columbus, both of those were tangible, palpable things. And they played a huge role in the Blue Jackets' being able to grab an early lead and withstand a furious third-period surge from the Lightning.
Tonight's attendance is 19,224. It's the third-largest crowd @NationwideArena in franchise history (reg. season/playoffs), trailing only last year's playoff games vs. Washington on Apr. 19 (19,395) and Apr. 17 (19,337).— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) April 15, 2019
NOTE: I said this on Twitter, but as someone who's been in the building for parts of each Blue Jackets playoff appearance, it bears repeating. Nationwide Arena has never been as loud and borderline ear-splitting as it was tonight. The place was pulsing. And it was awesome.
And the Blue Jackets held up their end of the bargain. They owed a big-time playoff win to the people here, who have unfortunately seen only a smattering of memorable postseason moments on home ice over the years. Tonight was an opportunity to push the snowball down the mountain a bit, and build some goodwill with the local folks.
The Blue Jackets scored first, then they scored again, and required assistance latching the roof on when Cam Atkinson put the game away with an empty-netter at 19:00 of the third. Matt Duchene, playing his first home playoff game at Nationwide Arena, was loving the buzz in the crowd.
Matt Duchene on the #CBJ crowd in Nationwide Arena: "The energy that they brought, thats the kind of stuff you dream about as a kid. Thats why you play the game.— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) April 15, 2019
Kudos the fans in Columbus tonight for creating a home-ice advantage that you need in the playoffs. They'll need to bring it again on Tuesday night, as the Blue Jackets get their first chance to eliminate the Lightning in Game 4.