Inside the Blue Jackets' locker room Tuesday at Nationwide Arena, there was a message written on the board.
It was a simple inquiry, three words long, and has yet to be answered in full by the Blue Jackets: "Who are we?"
It was put there by coach John Tortorella, who's still trying to figure this team out after an impressive 2-0 victory against the New York Rangers.
"That's the biggest thing I have my eyes set on here," Tortorella said. "We're a quarter of the way through the season. We've got to get straightened out who we are. We could talk about it, we could show tape about it, but we've got to play like who we are … and I think we took a step in the right direction tonight."
It wasn't perfect, but this was much better than the Jackets' previous two games - which were also victories. This one, however, ended in regulation. The other two ended in a nine-round shootout in Detroit - snapping a four-game losing streak - and a 2-1 overtime win Tuesday in Montreal.
Columbus didn't dominate either one, but gladly accepted wins presented to them by the genie who plays goalie for them, Sergei Bobrovsky. His bag of magic tricks never seems to run out, as he keeps contorting his body and making sure-thing goals disappear.
This time, however, Bobrovsky wasn't the main storyline - despite 36 saves and his second shutout of the season. The major takeaway was the Jackets as a whole, after they dominated much of this game.
They outshot the Rangers 42-36, including 33-21 in the first two periods. They kept consistent pressure on New York's Henrik Lundqvist, who needed 40 saves to keep it close. They got big goals from Zach Werenski in the second period and Artemi Panarin in the third, and they worked the puck below the hash marks in the offensive zone exactly the way Tortorella wants them to do it.
It was only one game, but the bulk of it answered that question on the board.
"We weren't in love with our last two games," center Brandon Dubinsky said. "Tonight, I thought we got back to who we need to be a little bit more. Now, it's just about trying to be consistent with it, day in and day out, [in] practices and games."
Video: Panarin is awarded the Kepi for his power play goal
Here's how it all went down:
Goals: CBJ - None; NYR - None
Shots: Blue Jackets 14, Rangers 12
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Rangers 53.6% (15-13), Blue Jackets 46.4% (13-15)
Scoring chances 5v5: Blue Jackets 9, Rangers 5
High-Danger chances 5v5: Blue Jackets 6, Rangers 4