Three Things: The Power Play Comes Alive, Nick Foligno Shines, and the Blue Jackets Can Exhale

By Rob Mixer on October 7, 2019 at 10:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand (28) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Buffalo Sabres in the first period at Nationwide Arena.
Aaron Doster – USA TODAY Sports

Early indications are that it won't be easy for the Blue Jackets this season – but they'd have it no other way.

Tonight was no exception. Seeking their first win of the season, they never trailed but faced plenty of adversity; they blew a 2-0 lead, let a late lead slip away, and had to rally for an overtime win to finally get in the win column in 2019-20.

Alexandre Texier capped it off, and you can read more in tonight's recap.

"(Texier) has played very well. He's a very smart player," head coach John Tortorella said.

Let's get into tonight's three things.

Power Play Awakens

The Blue Jackets' power play has, uh, struggled for large stretches over the last few seasons. They need a lot of things to go right this season if they're going to be successful, and the power play is one of them. 

Cam Atkinson scored a power play goal on opening night, and tonight, the Blue Jackets banged in a couple on the power play. Atkinson had the first one – a rocket one-timer from the right circle off a set up from Alexander Wennberg. Nick Foligno chopped one in early in the third period to put Columbus ahead, 3-2, and the unit was 2-for-3 overall.

For a power play under pressure to perform and add to the Blue Jackets' arsenal, this was an encouraging early-season showing.

Captain Clutch

This was one of Foligno's better games in a while. He was everywhere. But chief among anything he did tonight was his final contribution; Foligno won a puck battle with Jack Eichel, who had obviously overextended himself in OT, and found Texier in front for a point-blank chance that he buried for the game-winner.

Columbus had to play better "away from the puck" (sorry for the coach speak) and Foligno led the way tonight. He made several strong plays along the wall and tracking back defensively, and had a multi-point night on the offensive end.

Defensive Clinic

The Sabres had 18 shots on goal in 62:08 of hockey tonight. They still managed three goals, but this was a game the Blue Jackets largely controlled right from the start. 

Tortorella said he liked how the Blue Jackets battled and hung in there, absorbing some punches but getting right back to their game. While their penalty kill struggled, their 5-on-5 defensive play was solid and seemed to frustrate the Sabres' top players.

"We didn't give them much at all," Tortorella said. "It was a really good test to stay within ourselves and not try to do too much. I thought we did a good job."

 "Whether you win or lose, that has to be in us this year as far as being above the puck."

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