Since the end of The Streak, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been mired in The Slump. A 2-4-0 record (starting with the loss in Washington) represents a thud back to Earth, and a reminder that hockey can be cruel. One of those four losses came in Carolina, the origin point of a tricky week in Columbus goalie history. Tuesday night in Nationwide was a chance for redemption, and the Blue Jackets took the opportunity and skated away with a 4-1 win over the Hurricanes.
Then again, perspective helps The Slump seem slightly less awful: tonight’s victory pushed the Blue Jackets back into 1st place in the NHL, the first team to hit 30 wins this season.
Carolina was the first to find the back of the net, as Teuvo Teravainen delivered an exceptional pass to a waiting Sebastian Aho. And then, all of 11 seconds later, the story changed and drove the Columbus way the rest of the night. Two goals in a minute in the first, then two more in the second were enough to win the game, and a strong third period helped seal the victory.
Along the way, the Blue Jackets even chased Hurricanes’ starter Cam Ward. Tonight’s backup: Parma, Ohio native Alex Nedeljkovic, in his first NHL appearance. The rookie netminder represents a nice subplot to the game, as his 17 saves kept the Blue Jackets from completely overwhelming the Hurricanes in the final frame.
The real bright spot for the home team? The line of offense for the Blue Jackets.
The Good: The Atkinson-Dubinsky-Jenner Line
Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner, and Cam Atkinson came to life for the Jackets on Tuesday, and helped push the team to victory. Dubinsky and Jenner are the easy selections here, with two goals and one goal, respectively. And Atkinson, normally the goal-scorer, took the role of setup man and picked up two assists (one on Jenner’s goal, and one on the second Dubinsky tally).
Dubinsky, in particular, was overdue. He’d gone 17 straight games without a goal, and tonight? The puck couldn’t help but find the net.
Another positive for the Jackets: the Atkinson-Dubinsky-Jenner line played a complete game. The trio led the team in the shot attempt battle, all finishing above 70% CF% (via HockeyStats.ca). By both pressing play and finding offensive rewards, the night’s best line was the biggest reason for a win.
The Wonderful: The Return of Bobrovsky
The biggest pre-game news: Sergei Bobrovsky was returning to action after missing three straight games due to illness. Luckily for the Jackets, Bob was back in vintage form.
The skaters had a strong night ahead of Bobrovsky, so the great goalie game may not seem as necessary. However, 24 saves on 25 shots (a .960 SV%) made the task that much easier for Columbus. As long as Bobrovsky’s health holds up, the Korpisalo/Forsberg discussion becomes less pressing.
The Not So Great: The Powerplay
A negative element of the Blue Jackets’ victory: Columbus was woeful on the man advantage Tuesday, finishing 0-4. It’s an 0-4 that came with little structure, with few shots for the Jackets, and without many threatening looks. The home team ultimately didn’t need powerplay goals to win, but the one-night performance was not encouraging.
It’s fair to credit Carolina for their shutdown ability (the Canes’ penalty kill is the best in the NHL). It’s strange to see the usually-mighty CBJ powerplay act so feebly.
Tweet of the Game
In honor of his return: it’s so nice to watch Bob play again.
The Blue Jackets’ next game is home against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.