Entering the third period down 1-0 the Nashville Predators in a game they needed to win, the Blue Jackets scored twice in a span of 5:19 to take the lead. Cam Atkinson would add an empty-netter to secure the all-important two points. But in the end, it would not be enough.
With the Detroit Red Wings shutting out the Dallas Stars 3-0 to secure the Western Conference's No. 7 seed, the Blue Jackets' hopes came down to the Minnesota Wild. A Colorado Avalanche win in any fashion meant Columbus would be playing hockey next week. But Devin Setoguchi's goal midway through the second period would be the difference maker to send the Wild to the playoffs with a 3-1 win.
The final West standings show Minnesota and Columbus tied at 55 points, but the ROW (regulation and overtime wins) tiebreaker rests in the Wild's favor, a tiebreaker that was brought up former GM Scott Howson at an NHL Board of Governors meeting three years ago.
(UPDATE: As Aaron Portzline points out, even without the ROW, under the old tiebreaker rules the Wild finished with more wins than the Blue Jackets.)
But despite his idea three year-old idea coming back to haunt his former team, Howson, now the senior vice president of hockey operations for the Edmonton Oilers, did leave the Blue Jackets in a good place going forward.
There were breakthrough seasons up and down the roster, most notably Sergei Bobrovsky, whose year could earn him Vezina and Hart Trophy nominations. John Davidson took over as president of hockey operations and installed Jarmo Kekäläinen as the team's new GM. There will be three first round picks available for Columbus to play with at the draft.
And the combination of their late-season surge with the bitter taste of falling short could have a positive affect heading into next season. The Blue Jackets know what it takes now. Just a little bit more.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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