While there are 82 games that fill the slate of an NHL Regular Season, there was a feeling that Thursday night’s game against the Nashville Predators may have been the most important one for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The CBJ entered Thursday’s contest at Nationwide Arena against the Preds with more questions than answers:
- With Bobrovsky’s suspension, would he be with the team after the trade deadline?
- After losing 4-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, would the Blue Jackets be looked to as a contender or a pretender?
- Would the dreadful power play ever get better?
- Could Joonas Korpisalo be a reliable starter for Columbus if given the opportunity?
In the end, four things were apparent in the 4-3 victory for the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night:
Foligno’s Return Was Significant
After a four-game absence due to his daughter Milana having surgery, Nick Foligno made his return to the Jackets lineup. Equally as important as his return, was reuniting the line of Josh Anderson, Boone Jenner and Foligno himself. While Foligno’s presence was heavily felt with 17:37 of ice time and an assist, it was Boone Jenner who cashed in most thanks to Foligno’s return with two goals in the contest. Anderson also played an impressive game, looking sharp and providing a physical spark, as the second line of the CBJ was mathched up against former Blue Jacket Ryan Johansen’s line.
Panarin On The Power Play
Columbus went 2-2 on the man advantage thanks to Artemi Panarin, who scored a power-play goal in the third period to put the home team up 2-1 and another power-play goal in overtime to complete the 4-3 victory. It was the first time the Jackets had scored two power-play goals in a game since November and put the Breadman up to 15 goals on the campaign. Maybe Panarin will decide to stay right here in Columbus. Maybe.
A Confident Korpisalo
After the events that transpired earlier in the week, it was made evident that Korpisalo knew he was going to get the start on Thursday when the team was flying back to Columbus after the loss in Tampa Bay to the Lighting. It seems as if people have underestimated what kind of production the CBJ could get if Korpisalo were to become an everyday starter. Torts used the words “calm” and “confident” to describe Korpisalo, who saved 32 of 35 shots in a game that just may have been somewhat of an audition for a starting job if/when Bobrovsky’s not around.
Two Points For Overcoming Adversity (for one night at least)
The CBJ were a hot topic of conversation, and not for the best reasons. Starting Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t even in the building in a game that simply felt different and quite important as far as what direction this team was headed. After squandering a two-goal lead in the 3rd period, Columbus kept their composure and was rewarded with two points in the bank.
Extra Game Notes
- It seemed important for Korpisalo to get off to a good start if Columbus were to have any chance of beating Nashville and he did, not allowing a single goal through the first 40 minutes of action.
- The CBJ hit the post on four separate occasions while they led 1-0 thanks to attempted shots from Zach Werenski, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Boone Jenner and Artemi Panarin.
- The final 20 minutes of Thursday’s game was bananas. After the score was tied 1-1 the CBJ scored two goals in 11 seconds to go up 3-1. Nashville scored two goals in 38 seconds to tie the score up once again at 3-3 before heading to OT.
- After being dominated in the neutral zone on Tuesday against the Lightning, the Jackets performed quite well between the blue lines in their win against the Preds. The team seemed less hesitant than they were on Tuesday and controlled the pace throughout most of the contest.
- Who knows what the future holds for Bobrovsky, but there’s no doubt that Korpisalo’s performance on Thursday night was good enough to at least make it easier to entertain the idea of seeing this squad without Bob. Then again, I have no idea what’s coming next.
- In case you hadn’t heard it yet, John Tortorella earned his 600th victory as a head coach in the National Hockey League. I don’t wanna get too sappy, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he was the right guy to get the Columbus Blue Jackets to finally earn some respect in the league. Congrats to Torts.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be back in action on Saturday night, as they’ll head east to face the division-leading Washington Capitals.