The Nationwide Arena scoreboard was lit up this week.
It was the first game their in 311 days, and was a vastly different scene than March 1st, 2020. On that night, the home team turned a 3-1 deficit in the third period into a 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks, scoring four times in less than eight minutes in the final period.
Nobody knew it at the time, but the Columbus Blue Jackets had just sent the sell-out crowd home happy for the final time that season. The victory was followed by a three game road trip in western Canada, and before the Blue Jackets could get play at home again, the league began their Coronavirus pause.
This time, it was an intrasquad scrimmage in front of section after section of empty seats, with the exception of a few coaches and team personnel who watched from the stands.
Hopefully, the offense on display for those (mostly) empty seats is a sneak preview of what's to come.
"I said I'm scoring about 40 this year, so I have 37 left," said Nick Foligno. The Blue Jackets captain scored three times for the Blue team in a losing effort, as they fell to the 9-6 to the White team. Pierre-Luc Dubois stuck claim to a hat trick as well, scoring three times for the victors.
"We joke around, it's a scrimmage, but it's still nice to put the puck in the net," added Foligno.
After two periods of regulation play, six of the combined 15 goals came in a third period that was designated as a special teams period. The squads rotated between power plays, as well as 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 competition.
Away from the hat tricks, Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice (for the White team), and single goals were added between the two teams by Cam Atkinson, Boone Jenner, Riley Nash, Nathan Gerbe, Liam Foudy, Seth Jones, and Andrew Peeke.
The expected regular season top line of Alexander Texier, Dubois, and Bjorkstrand were paired together a majority of the night. Max Domi and Atkinson, likely to play together on the second line, were joined by Foligno, which could be an early indication of where coach John Tortorella's mind is for his top six forwards.
You can watch the entire scrimmage below.