Every season in the National Hockey League is a grind. The Columbus Blue Jackets learned that lesson the hard way—going on a 42-game stretch with a record of 17-21-4 following a six-game winning streak in the month of November. During that stretch, the Jackets failed to win more than two consecutive games.
It looks like the “rough patch” of the season, if you will, is finally over. The CBJ extended their current winning streak to five games on Monday night with a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Nationwide Arena.
Head Coach John Tortorella talked about the approach his team had leading up to the puck drop:
Tonight was a trap game…We talked about it as a team…We just gotta keep our concentration here.
Montreal got off to a quick start. Brendan Gallagher scored a goal (his 25th of the season) that was a high degree of difficulty, deflecting a shot from teammate Jeff Petry into the back of the net just 34 seconds after the puck dropped in the first period.
The CBJ just kept playing their game—and it paid off. Nick Foligno was credited with a goal to tie the score 1-1 at the 4:17 mark. Foligno made a pass near the blue paint, then a Montreal player attempted to clear the puck, but didn’t have the best of luck doing so as it went off a teammate’s skate and got past goaltender Charlie Lindgren.
The CBJ came into Monday night’s game only scoring on one of their previous 18 power plays. The Jackets reversed that trend quickly, as Seth Jones and Alexander Wennberg each scored a power-play goal in the first period.
Team Captain Nick Foligno was excited about the success of the power play on the evening and elaborated on what he saw from his team while on the man advantage afterwards:
They’re moving it so much better… The puck was zippin’; plays were being made, and then boom, shot to the net…When we’re dangerous on the power play that’s what we do. We move it three [or] four times then boom…It’s hard for any team to handle…Great to see those ones (shots) go in…It really, just kinda, put the game in, in our hands and, and allowed us to get that win.
In the second period Boone Jenner scored a goal of the give-and-go variety with Alexander Wennberg (who had three assists on the evening) to put the Jackets up 4-1.
Montreal, however, would answer. Jonathan Drouin showed off his speed and scoring prowess—converting on a breakaway opportunity to make the score 4-2 heading into the final 20 minutes.
“Vintage Bob” showed up in the third period, as Sergei Bobrovsky stopped all 24 shots in his direction to secure another two points in the bank for Columbus.
Defenseman Ian Cole added a nice final touch, with the final goal of regulation at the 17:41 mark to make it 5-2 in favor of the home team.
The matchup with the Canadiens was the last of a four-game home stretch for the Jackets. Columbus was victorious in all four games, but, what stood out most, was that eight of their 17 goals were scored by defensemen (Two apiece from Ian Cole and Zach Werenski, and four from Seth Jones).
The defensemen have played well on both sides of the ice lately, and their performances haven’t gone unnoticed by Torts; who gave the entire unit a lot of credit:
When our team is playing really well…Our defense is our engine. They dictate how we go…I think we’re seeing more and more of that…I think Jonesy (Seth Jones) and Z (Zach Werenski) are finding a different level…I think it’s a very comfortable situation with, with Cole and Savy (David Savard); they feel very comfortable. And I think Jack and whoever he’s played with (Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara)…I think they complement the other guys very well.
The Columbus Blue Jackets continued to slowly gain ground in the standings after the win at Nationwide Arena. Up next, they’ll head east for a divisional showdown with the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.