The Blue Jackets needed that victory tonight.
They were 4-1 winners over the hapless Red Wings, but the real story of the night is the return of fans to Nationwide Arena after 366 days without them.
"We could feel the energy in warmups...we missed them, and it's great to have them back here cheering us on," said Boone Jenner, whose goal in the second period gave the Blue Jackets a commanding 4-1 lead. Jenner has seven goals this season, and he's been one of the most consistent forwards for Columbus.
It's tough to manufacture your own momentum when you're used to playing in front of ~20,000 screaming fans every night, whether it's home or away, and the Blue Jackets definitely appreciated the presence of their fans tonight.
"It gives you chills. It's something special, for sure," said Cam Atkinson, who also tallied in tonight's win. His shorthanded goal in the first period gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead. It was Atkinson's fourth shorthanded goal of the season, which leads the NHL.
"(The fans being back) was a huge boost for us, and I think we showed it. It's great to have our fans back in the building," said Atkinson.
Perhaps the most audible that the fans were all night was in the waning seconds, when a familiar CBJ-CBJ-CBJ chant emerged.
"It was awesome having them in there tonight, they gave us some juice. And they were loud, too," said Zach Werenski. "It definitely felt like more than 2,000 (fans). Werenski tallied an assist on Jenner's goal, and he and Seth Jones looked the best that they've looked all season. It's important to keep in mind that they were playing the Red Wings, who are struggling mightily, but their performances as a pair and running point on the power play were fantastic.
John Tortorella wasn't too focused on the fans, but he gave them credit where credit's due.
"It was nice to hear some noise before the puck was dropped," said John Tortorella. "I'm happy for them, with all the crap going on...I'm happy that they got to come out and see (the game)."
The Blue Jackets will head to Dallas to take on the Stars on Thursday night, and they'll be in front of even more fans during that matchup — about 4,000. They'll need to feed off of their energy, although it'll be different as the away team.
Slowly but surely, as more vaccines go out, normalcy is returning. It's only a matter of time before Nationwide Arena will be full, once again.