Three Things: Blue Jackets End Losing Streak With Strong Finish, New-Look Lines

By Paul Berthelot on February 5, 2019 at 11:51 pm
Oliver Bjorkstrand wraps around to score his third goal in three consecutive games
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It’s over.

The Columbus Blue Jackets finally ended their five game losing streak, toppling a quality team on the road. Sure, the Avalanche are sputtering just like the Jackets, but they came out ready to play. Still, the Blue Jackets found their game in the third, and pulled away at the end of the game. 

Here are tonight’s three things:

New lines

Mired in a five-game losing streak, coach John Tortorella put his lines in a blender.

After leaning on the top line of Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson for essentially the entire season, he shook things up, putting Panarin with Alexander Wennberg and Oliver Bjorkstrand. That risky move paid immediate dividends. 

It took the Blue Jackets all of two shifts to open the scoring. David Savard knocked down a dump-out by the Avalanche, got it up the ice to Wennberg, who gave it to Bjorkstrand. The Danish winger made a subtle head fake to draw Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer out of his crease and knocked home a wrap-around goal. That gives Bjorkstrand goals in three consecutive games.

Naturally, the *other* new line got in on the scoring for the next Blue Jackets goal, as Pierre-Luc Dubois scored on a rebound to reclaim the lead in the first. 

So about those new lines…

They didn't exactly last. Despite scoring twice in the game's first frame, the Blue Jackets struggled, managing just a handful of shots. About halfway through the second, Tortorella went back to the lines that the team used for much of the season so far. Putting Panarin and Atkinson back together seemed to provide a bit of a spark – especially when Panarin made a great pass to spring Atkinson on a breakaway that led to Atkinson's 29th goal of the season. 

Finish Strong

The first two periods of tonight's contest were less than stellar for the Columbus Blue Jackets, who despite poor play found themselves tied with about ten minutes left to play.

Sergei Bobrovsky kept the Blue Jackets in it for much of the contest, and they finally broke through in the third. In the game's final frame, Columbus generated 17 shots on net after combining for just 18 through two.

When things started going right for the Blue Jackets, they kept going right. Josh Anderson scored at 10:29 to make it 4-3 – and a failed challenge by Avalanche coach Jared Bednar gave Columbus a power play that saw them convert. Alexander Wennberg scored his second goal of the season on that power play, giving Columbus a 5-3 lead, and Pierre-Luc Dubois notched an empty-netter later in the period to seal it. 

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