Zach Werenski Returns To Play Game 5 And Scored The Game-Deciding Goal For the Blue Jackets

By Rob Mixer on August 10, 2020 at 12:24 am
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski carries the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period of game five of the Eastern Conference qualifications at Scotiabank Arena.
John Sokolowski – USA Today Sports

Zach Werenski had an inkling he'd be back.

Though after Game 4 and all that came with it (if you didn't remember, the Blue Jackets blew a 3-0 lead with less than four minutes remaining), it didn't sound good for Werenski going into a deciding Game 5.

Imagine playing this game – with everything on the line – without one of your star defenseman. Fortunately for the Blue Jackets, Werenski's injury was tolerable enough to play in Game 5. We're all glad that we did.

Werenski was impressive in the first do-or-die playoff game of his NHL career. 

He played 22:44 after a big night in Game 3 and an early exit in Game 4, and scored the game-deciding goal which came only 6:29 into the game. It was vintage Werenski.

This goal, a typical Werenski seeing-eye wrist shot, was the second series-clinching goal in franchise history. And for a period of time after Game 4, it felt like it wouldn't even happen.

Werenski went missing from the Blue Jackets bench late in Game 4, didn't play the last 11-plus minutes of regulation and didn't appear for overtime. But Sunday morning, John Tortorella leaned into to the microphone and told reporters that both Werenski and Ryan Murray (who didn't play Game 4) would play in Game 5.

A true game-changer for Columbus.

Werenski said he felt better on Saturday and knew he would probably play in Game 5, managing what for the moment is an undisclosed upper-body injury. 

The Blue Jackets are going to need him going forward, too. Not only is Werenski a minutes-eating defenseman but he's also one of their top offensive options. If this group is going to (finally) score a power play goal in the playoffs, Werenski is going to be a big part of it.