The Blue Jackets played with confidence tonight.
And, if you've been following along, that's a pretty encouraging development in its own right. As John Tortorella likes to say, "you can't reach into your pocket and pull out some confidence." When players are gripping their sticks and the puck isn't going in the net, it really wears on a team.
Before this little streak, the lack of offense was costing the Blue Jackets points and games. They'd fallen under .500 and dangerously close to an afterthought in a playoff picture that tends to crystallize around this time of year.
But hey, it's now officially a winning streak at three games in a row.
WILD AND WOOLY
The Blue Jackets, in a normal world, would've won this game in a rout.
They dominated the game. It was a struggle for the Red Wings to simply touch the puck at times. But they were able to (against all odds) hang around make it interesting late in the third period. For those in attendance at Nationwide Arena, it was a "get your money's worth" game at the least; they saw nine goals, two 5-on-3 advantages (one per team) and a ton of energy and pace.
Columbus rightfully came out on the right side of things tonight, but man, it was perilously close to tilting the other way. The Blue Jackets had to battle back from a 3-2 deficit (more on that below) and keep hammering away, and they ended the game with 71 shot attempts in all situations.
YES, HE CAM
Perhaps no player on the Blue Jackets' roster needs to start scoring more than Cam Atkinson.
This is a guy who scored 41 (!) goals last season and was fired up to try and blow past that mark in 2019-20. So far, it hasn't been going his way. His 5-on-5 offense has dried up and that frustration had bled over to the power play, where Atkinson is a lethal weapon. Tonight, he got some pay-off; on the Columbus 5-on-3, Seth Jones beamed a pass across the box to Atkinson at the back post, and he was able to corral the puck and slide it into an open Detroit net.
It was overdue for Atkinson, who has the trust of Tortorella and the coaching staff to work through it. Now it's a matter of building something.
WIN THE THIRD
Two nights ago, the Blue Jackets were locked in a 2-2 tie with the Montreal Canadiens heading into the third period. They scored three times and put the game away.
Tonight, they were trailing (as mentioned). But it was a similar result.
Oliver Bjorkstrand's rocket from the top of the key tied the game, 3-3. Then Boone Jenner scored a ridiculous goal from a tight angle to put the Blue Jackets ahead, and Eric Robinson's speed left the Red Wings ingesting fumes on the fifth Columbus goal.
You know that's got to have Tortorella grinning on the inside. He loves when his teams develop a killer instinct in third periods to take over games no matter the situation, and he's seen that in their last two wins on home ice.