The Columbus Blue Jackets kept the winning streak alive with a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at Nationwide Arena.
With the win, the Blue Jackets have won four straight since a disastrous 4-0 loss in Tampa Bay, which almost feels like ancient history. Since that game, Sergei Bobrovsky was suspended internally, Artemi Panarin was offered free vodka for life, Nick Foligno returned to the team, John Tortorella won his 600th game as a head coach, and Rick Nash announced his retirement. Just a standard week in Columbus, folks.
In recent wins against the Nashville Predators and New York Rangers, the Blue Jackets held comfortable leads, only to see them evaporate. That wasn't the case against the Devils, as the defense held steady and Joonas Korpisalo was solid.
Here are tonight’s three things:
Start Hot, and Don't Let Up
The Blue Jackets jumped out to a 3-0 lead after just one period and scored another early in the second frame to make it a 4-0 game. For many teams, that would feel safe, but, as mentioned, the club has had recent struggles slamming the door shut.
No such problem against the Devils. Korpisalo improved to 9-2-2 on the year, stopping 29 of 30 shots. The Blue Jackets improved to 3-0-0 against the Devils this year.
A comfortable lead also allowed John Tortorella to more equitably split ice time for his defense, a real luxury in the NHL. Seth Jones played "only" 21:29, five minutes less than his average. Zach Werenski and David Savard eclipsed the 20-minute mark. Scott Harrington played a season-high 17:37, and also saved a goal in the third period. Markus Nutivaara brought up the rear with 15:56.
Top Line Dominates
The trio of Cam Atkinson, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Artemi Panarin has been dynamite all year, and that continued. Each player registered a goal and an assist, as they remain one of the more under-appreciated top lines in the NHL.
Oh, and Artemi Panarin's hot streak? May not be such a coincidence...
Artemi Panarin has scored in every game since he was offered free vodka for life.#CBJ— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) January 16, 2019
All kidding aside, it's been a real pleasure to watch this line go to work. If they can continue to score at this pace, it will be difficult for opposing clubs to match.
Last week against the Washington Capitals, Boone Jenner lost a faceoff late in the game, and seconds later the puck wound up in the back of the net. Against the New York Rangers, Artemi Panarin found a loose puck off of a draw to tie the game at one apiece.
And against the Devils, three of the five goals scored in the game came within seconds of a faceoff win (or loss).
Watch Josh Anderson find a cutting Jenner to extend the Blue Jackets lead to 2-0.
Later in the first period, David Savard found Panarin streaking to the net off a draw. And the Devils lone goal came off of a tip on a shot from the point... right after a Jenner loss.
It's hard to quantify how important faceoffs are to a game because, after 10 seconds of gameplay following a draw, research shows that no team is at a particular advantage. But within those 10 seconds, a team can clearly do damage. Although Columbus won just 25/60 (42%) of the game's faceoffs, they outscored the Devils 2-1 on those plays. Lucky coincidence? Hard to say, but the Blue Jackets will take it.
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