The Columbus Blue Jackets have been slowly coming out of the funk that’s plagued the team so far in December. With one win last week sandwiched between two one-goal losses, the Jackets have been starting to play better despite not always getting the results they deserved.
When it was announced just prior to game time that CBJ winger Artemi Panarin would sit out with a lower body injury, head coach John Tortorella took the opportunity to implement a couple lineup changes for Monday’s matchup.
Tortorella discussed his rationale after the game, saying:
I thought we were playing well going into this game so I didn’t want to screw things up, but when Bread’s out and some other things came about in discussions with players as far as their game, it gave me an opportunity to try different things and I think it did add some freshness to us.
With Panarin out, Anthony Duclair slid into his spot on the top line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson. Although the line didn’t get on the scoresheet, they certainly made some noise and had some good scoring chances all night long.
Another change Tortorella made was move Alexander Wennberg up to the second line between Nick Foligno and Josh Anderson. After a scoreless first forty minutes of the hockey game, that line got the Jackets on the board just 40 seconds into the third period with Nick Foligno beating Vegas goaltender Malcolm Subban to make it 1-0 CBJ.
While the Jackets didn’t go into 100% lockdown mode playing with a 1-0 lead, they didn’t exactly play their best hockey down the stretch either. John Tortorella commented on his team’s play in the third period, saying:
It got a little scary there the second part of that third period. I thought that’s where Bob was outstanding, made some great saves.
Speaking of Bob, Sergei Bobrovsky had arguably his best performance of the season, stopping all 28 shots the Golden Knights sent his way. The Jackets had been playing better defensively the last few games, but it’s hard to get much better than a shutout – their first of the year.
Tortorella was glad to see his team get rewarded for their play, something that hadn’t always happened in the few games leading up to Monday’s victory. Torts commented:
We’ve just had so much bad puck luck…it’s just good to get the result where I thought for most of that game we played really well.
After defeating one of the better teams in the Western Conference, the Columbus Blue Jackets improved to 18-12-3 as they march towards the upcoming Christmas break. Next up for the CBJ will be the New Jersey Devils on Thursday evening, who are flirting with the bottom spot in the Metropolitan Division.