NEWARK, N.J. - John Tortorella didn't care what it looked like, as long as it ended with two points in the standing for the Blue Jackets.
"I have to coach them on how they're playing, but now you're down to 23 games left," he said, prior to the Jackets' 2-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday at Prudential Center. "We have to cure ourselves, and maybe playing a lousy game out here but finding a way at certain times to make big plays to win the game. That's the way the league is."
That's the way the game was, too.
It wasn't always pretty for Columbus, which put just six shots on goal in the final two periods, but ending a three-game winless skid was a thing of beauty for the Blue Jackets (30-25-5) - who reclaimed the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
After outshooting their previous nine opponents by a wide margin, the Jackets were outshot 20-6 in the final 40 minutes, 31-19 overall and didn't get their first shot in the third period until Zach Werenski sent a wrister to the net from 54 feet away.
It didn't matter, because Columbus flipped the script from its previous games this month - winning a game that could've been a loss. Asked after the game if it qualified as a "lousy" game the Blue Jackets won, Tortorella defined it a different way.
"I categorize that as a win," he said. "That's all we're concerned about right now, is finding ways to get two points, and we did tonight."
Columbus had outshot its previous nine opponents, which made Tortorella happy with the way they played in nearly every game. The problem was the Jackets went 2-6-1 during that stretch and lost their grip on both of the East's two wild cards.
This game was proof that finding ways to win is far more important than playing well, even though the ideal is to play great and come out on top.
"We have battled the consistency of making that next big play, and maybe finishing on a goal or getting the next big save or making the next big defensive play to win that game," Tortorella said. "We've been on the wrong side of that too much this year, and that's why you find us where we're at right now. We have had opportunities to win games, and we just have not done that consistently enough."
They did it Tuesday, but it was quite a task.
Boone Jenner gave Columbus a 1-0 lead in the first period, and defenseman Scott Harrington gave the Blue Jackets the lead again, 2-1, in the second - about 12 minutes after Taylor Hall tied it for the Devils to start the period. From there, Columbus leaned heavily on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 30 saves to rebound from a tough outing Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"We don't have very many opportunities left [to bounce back]," Bobrovsky said. "The schedule dictates what we have to do. We win tonight, but the next game [Thursday in Philadelphia] is the biggest for us."
Here's what we learned: