Blue Jackets fans light up Nationwide

A sell-out crowd of 19,002 gathered in Nationwide Arena to watch the Jackets in the season finale.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- If the Columbus Blue Jackets' spectacular run this season has proven anything, it’s this: When there’s a winning product on the ice, Columbus fans will come. And they did it in stunning fashion Saturday night as a sell-out crowd of 19,002 gathered in Nationwide Arena to watch their boys beat the Nashville Predators 3-1.

The hearty group, which was quieted in the second period by a Nashville goal, started gathering outside the ticket office before noon for the 7 p.m. game and packed the Arena District for pre-gaming long before the doors officially opened at 6.

It was quite a night—fan appreciation night—and it was made even more special when the Blue Jackets organization allowed fans to stay and watch the final seven minutes of the Minnesota Wild game vs. the Colorado Avalanche. Detroit had already clinched the 7th spot in the Western Conference—if the Wild won, they moved into 8th, tying the Jackets and winning due to regulation wins. If the Wild lost, the Jackets would have clinched their second playoff berth.

Around 3,000 people stayed to watch the Wild clinch, beating the Avalanche 3-1.

It was no matter. Columbus fans electrified Nationwide Arena from the moment the doors opened, sporting their gear with a sense of pride and hope. Not just hope to clinch a playoff spot—but hope for a new way of doing things. The future is bright for these Jackets—and the loud, hopeful, happy and celebratory crowd made sure to let them know they thought so, too.

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