Two straight wins. A solid second period. A great start to the third period.
Who are you, and what have you done with the Blue Jackets?
Columbus has consecutive wins for the first time since Battle at Bunker Hill, and all of a sudden, this is a team that looks to be gaining some steam. Beat Detroit? Sure, that's fine. Take down a frustrated Stars team on the road? Now we're talking.
Here are three things from tonight's game in Dallas.
LOWER THE BOONE
Boone Jenner – yes, him! – has eight goals this season.
He's been one of the Blue Jackets' most consistent and productive forwards, which is beneficial from a secondary scoring standpoint. It's also indicative of a larger problem, which is a general inability for Columbus to get regular production from its top players.
His goal in the second period tonight, though, was a work of art. The prototypical Boone Jenner goal, if you will: winning a battle down low, protecting the puck as he walked to the net, and whipped the puck through the legs of Anton Khudobin for a 1-0 lead.
He appeared to score his second of the game early in the third period to make it a 3-0 game. Would've been nine goals for Boone Jenner, but Eric Robinson got credit for the puck caressing on his skate blade. Impeccable precision from the NHL's off-ice officials.
The Blue Jackets have scored first in 18 of their 25 games. Wild.
TEAM 'D' + FORECHECK
It was a solid effort for two periods. In the third period, some of the Blue Jackets' defensive demons reappeared. Failed clears, blown coverages...all the things you don't want to see when you're sitting on a comfy 3-0 lead.
The game was in their hands. Two quick third period goals put Columbus in the driver's seat, and then, things started to open up. The Blue Jackets weren't sharp in their own end, and the Stars–who hadn't scored in almost 200 minutes–ripped off two quick goals to make things interesting.
Both goals were born from defensive issues by the Blue Jackets. They failed to clear the zone on Miro Heiskanen's goal, and Jason Robertson's goal came at the end of a long shift in their defensive zone. For as strong as the first few minutes of the third period were, the rest of the way was an adventure for the visitors.
In addition to that, they were back on the forecheck. It's something the Blue Jackets have been missing, which is also a key part of their identity. Instead of spending the final 10 minutes sitting back and bleeding shots and chances, they kept the puck deep in the Stars' end of the rink and made it hard to create offense. That's the team Tortorella wants them to be, and tonight, they showed some flashes of what they can do.
But hey! It's two points. Those are rare these days.
You want to bottle that third period surge if you're John Tortorella. You want your team to remember what it felt like to take control of a game. Confidence is fleeting, Tortorella has often said, and you can't flip a switch to give someone confidence.
But if there was ever a time to have it, the Blue Jackets could use it. Back-to-back wins haven't been a regular occurrence of late, but they have something to work with now. Tonight's 3-2 win was hardly a Monet, but it's two regulation points against a Dallas Stars team that has 344 games in hand (approximation) on Columbus due to COVID-19 postponements. Any dent you can make is important, and this was a key step for a Blue Jackets team that needs to start taking some big ones to get back in the race.