The Columbus Blue Jackets woke up this morning on the outside of the playoff line.
Playing with desperation, the Jackets defeated the New Jersey Devils to the tune of 6-1, their biggest offensive output of 2018.
In doing so, the club snapped a five game losing skid dating back to the All-Star break. It was their first win inside Metropolitan Division since the 14th of December
Here are five thoughts from a joyous night at Nationwide Arena.
STICKING WITH IT
Boy, did they need that one.
The Blue Jackets, led by John Tortorella, have remained unusually positive for a team that had been watching their playoff position slide in the wrong direction.
He, and the players, preached patience, saying they were playing the right way and were deserving of a better fate in several of the games they had dropped.
An old hockey adage is that teams on losing streaks start to play well enough to win towards the end of the streak, and teams on winning streaks win a game or two that they have no business winning. That's just the nature of the sport, and it proved true again here.
Sure, they should have gotten points in their last three games, but they played
Sergei Bobrovsky won his 23rd game of the season while stopping 34 of 35 shots. For good measure, he chipped in an assist on Josh Anderson's goal that made it 3-0.
After a game where (let's be honest) Bobrovsky struggled, it was nice to see the club's top player back on track. He made some key saves to keep it 0-0, and though the score wouldn't indicate it, they needed him to be solid.
Bonus: Bobrovsky's father was in the dad's suite at the game, and got to see his son reveled by the Columbus crowd.
SECOND PERIOD WAS... GOOD!
The second period has been a consistent issue for the Blue Jackets all season.
Goals from Artemi Panarin, Josh Anderson, and Oliver Bjorkstrand Jackets turned a 1-0 lead into a 4-0 lead, and it took just 3:09. The 4-0 lead they took into the third period was the first comfortable lead they've had in weeks. A nice change of pace for a period that has given the club fits all season.
Panarin continued his domination of the Devils; After tallying five assists against the Devils in one game in December, he added his 15th goal of the year (the game winner, no less) and an assist on the game's first goal. Bjorkstrand ended a 14-game goalless drought. Josh Anderson built on his team lead in goals, tallying his 17th goal of the season.
In short, that was the second period the team needed.
The Blue Jackets have fired a lot of rubber at the puck in recent games, and that continued tonight, as their 50 shots on net was a season high. Blue Jackets PR found a nice stat, too:
#CBJ posted a season-high 50 shots on goal tonight. The club has posted 175 shots in the past four games. It's a new franchise record for shots over a 4-game period, surpassing the 172 shots recorded from Nov. 26-Dec. 3, 2016.
— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) February 11, 2018
We've addressed their unusually low shooting percentage this year, and acknowledged that the percentages should rebound. Tonight was a culmination of a lot of shots that somehow didn't light find paydirt.
O Captain, My Captain!
Nick Foligno, like many others, has struggled to provide consistent scoring this season. Tonight's game was his 400th game in the union blue sweater, becoming the ninth player in franchise history to accomplish the feat.
In the third period, he capitalized on a Seth Jones rebound for his 11th goal of the season. As has been the case often this season, his reaction was somewhere between joy and relief.
— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) February 11, 2018
The Blue Jackets look to build on this game on Tuesday night in Brooklyn as they take on the New York Islanders.