We were excited coming into tonight. We weren’t discouraged.
Matt Duchene didn’t seem rattled following a 2-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday night. Instead, he’s been patient and understanding of what this team can be when it all comes together. He also talked about what Tuesday’s seven-goal outburst could mean for the club:
Hopefully tonight, you know, that’s what we needed to break out and chill out offensively…I think tonight was what we’re capable of and it’s fun.
Columbus once again got off to a slow start, but that clearly didn’t discourage them, as the Jackets went on to score five consecutive goals.
Josh Anderson was the engine that got the offensive train going. He led off the scoring, breaking away in transition and making some fancy moves before beating Goaltender Tuukka Rask to tie the game 1-1.
With 5:22 remaining in the opening period, Ryan Dzingel was able to rebound his own shot and shoot the puck off Rask’s back to put the CBJ up 2-1. It wasn’t how Dzingel would imagine his first goal with the new club, but he’ll take it.
The third goal for the Jackets will be quite a memorable one for awhile. After killing off a Boston 5-on-3 opportunity, Jenner got the puck near center ice, passed it to a streaking Anderson then rebounded his shot to score a shorthanded goal with only six seconds left before the first intermission. Columbus now has the second-ranked penalty kill in the National Hockey League, and Jenner’s tally was HUGE for the team’s confidence level.
At the 7:09 mark of the second period, it was Dzingel who was behind the net and found Duchene, who sniped the puck past Rask to put the Jackets up 4-1.
Dzingel, who had a goal and two assists in the game, spoke about the process Columbus has been going through after the trade deadline:
You need to jell as a team and you need to do it quickly…Every day it’s getting better and every day we’re feeling more comfortable.
Speaking of feeling comfortable, it was Jenner who received a pass from Riley Nash at the doorstep to put the CBJ up 5-1 exactly 60 seconds after the Duchene goal.
Rask’s night ended early, as he gave up five goals on 24 shots. He was replaced by Jaroslav Halak.
Boston’s Brad Marchand scored his 29th goal of the season to cut the lead to 5-2, but it was Panarin who got the headlines for a fight shortly thereafter.
Zach Werenski shared some of his thoughts on Panarin dropping the gloves:
He’s a skill guy, but he has a heart. A big heart and he wants to win.
The Jackets were put in a tough spot, as the Bruins fought back to make it a 5-4 game with (you guessed it) Marchand scoring off a faceoff. The play seemed like it would possibly foreshadow a Columbus collapse, as the Jackets inexplicably only had four skaters on the ice at the time.
Head Coach John Tortorella mentioned what the message was to his team entering the third period with a 5-4 lead:
We just can’t be tentative. I don’t care if we make any, more mistakes in the third period. But it has to be through us being on our toes.
The CBJ were able to hold onto the slim lead, then added to it. Panarin came out of the box and patiently held the puck near the boards in the offensive zone before finding Werenski, who scored his first goal since New Year’s Eve of 2018.
Werenski was openly relieved to get, as he put it, “The monkey off the back”.
With 47 seconds remaining in regulation, Jenner quickly released the puck off of his stick from the defensive zone and put it into the empty net. It completed what was the first hat trick of his career.
Jenner spoke about his team’s mindset when the entered the final 20 minutes up by one:
We just wanted to get back to our game…We wanted to make sure we played the right way.
There may not be a player who’s been more impactful than Josh Anderson, who recorded a goal and three assists on the night, while being on a line with Duchene and Dzingel.
Anderson had glowing words about being lined up with the two aforementioned teammates:
Got a lot of scoring chances and…really felt comfortable with each other…We were jelling together and we were feeling confident.
Torts had positive things to say about Duchene’s line with Anderson and Dzingel, but also added:
Josh just fits there it seems right now.
Tortorella has been nationally criticized for changing the lines up too often. While his coaching performance from a couple seasons ago is unequivocally the best in the history of the Columbus franchise, it doesn’t take away from his questionable tactics at times as of late. Duchene, Dzingel and Anderson were clearly happy with how they played together. One has to wonder how it took Torts this long to put the line together and if his stubbornness gets in the way, leading him to dissemble the trio.
Tortorella’s postgame demeanor has clearly improved (which, to be honest, isn’t saying much) since joining the Jackets, but he still has some habits (changing around the lines too often being at the top of the list) that may never change. While the players seem to be improving, the coach should be held to the same high standards. Only time will tell if Torts enables this team to reach their potential, or if some of his bad habits get in the way and wreck the process.
The CBJ will be off on Wednesday and Thursday, before hosting the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night. Every game (of course) is significant at this juncture of the season.