Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason said he had no idea where the puck was with 1.8 seconds remaining against the St. Louis Blues last night in Nationwide Arena.
Good thing, because by then the puck had worked its way out of a wild scramble in the crease and slithered under his pads and across the goal line.
The red lamp behind Mason’s net was lit. An official signaled goal.
An announced audience of 12,425 groaned.
Upon further review, the fans cheered.
The goal was nullified after it was determined that Blues winger David Perron had scored by punching the puck over the line with his fist while lying on top of Mason, and the Blue Jackets were assured a 2-1 win that they probably deserved in a hard-hitting, fast-moving game against one of the NHL’s best teams.
“They made the right call,” Perron said. “I fell down and kind of hit the puck with my hand and it went in.”
It assured Mason of his 84th career victory, tying the Blue Jackets record set by Marc Denis. That it came against a smoking-hot team that’s on the heels of Western Conference leader Detroit made it all the more enjoyable.
“That really kind of reminds me of playoff hockey,” said Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski, who scored in the final tenth of a second of the first period to tie the score at 1 and earlier cleared a puck off the goal line to keep game scoreless.
Playoff hockey? The last-place Blue Jackets?
“Everybody is hitting,” Wisniewski said. “It was fast, up and down. February and March, those are the hardest games to win. We’re getting a taste of it. Hopefully, we can try to play spoiler.”
Derek Dorsett scored the winner at 6:49 of the third period.
After linemates Antoine Vermette and Sammy Pahlsson took their cracks with wrist shots saved by Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak, an off-balance Dorsett crashed the net and buried the rebound of Pahlsson’s attempt.
It was Dorsett’s 10th goal of the season. He had never scored more than four in any of his previous three seasons.
“There are still 25 games left,” Dorsett said. “I don’t want to stop at 10.”
The Blues, the league’s stingiest defensive team, played as billed in the first period, when they held the Blue Jackets to six shots.
The last of those, though, was costly. Blue Jackets center Jeff Carter won an offensive zone faceoff with two seconds remaining and sent the puck toward Mark Letestu near the half wall.
Letestu redirected it to center, where Wisniewski one-timed a blast from 53 feet that crossed the goal line as the buzzer sounded. It, too, was reviewed, but the goal stood after it was determined that it crossed the line before time expired.
The Blues took a 1-0 lead with 1:09 left in the first period when a turnover by Carter led to a short-handed goal by St. Louis captain David Backes.
Backes capped a 2-on-1 rush with Perron by flipping a backhand past Mason.
It could have been 2-0 at that point, but Wisniewski earlier raked a puck off the goal line, denying Blues winger Chris Stewart what looked to be a sure power-play goal.
Wisniewski’s save helped the Blues from winning a fifth straight game.
“We all dug in,” Dorsett said. “We beat a really good team, a team that’s been really hot as of late.
“We just have to make sure we keep playing that way the rest of the season and show people that we do care.”