The Blue Jackets broke out of their three-game losing streak in a big way, and put an end to their opponent’s streak in the process.
The Jackets scored a season-high seven goals Friday night and defeated the St. Louis Blues 7-1 at Nationwide Arena. It was the Blues’ first regulation loss in 14 games, and their most lopsided regulation loss in over a year. The Blues had not surrendered seven goals in a game since a 7-1 defeat against the New Jersey Devils on January 21st of last year.
The Jackets got contributions from every corner of the lineup, including a certain snake-bitten All-Star…
Success Loves Company
Entering Friday night’s game, Nick Foligno had only one goal in his last 15 games and zero in his past nine. Brandon Dubinsky had only one goal in his last 12. Perhaps head coach Todd Richards thought the two could help each other figure it out, since his reshuffling of the lines Friday morning put Foligno on Dubinsky’s wing along with Corey Tropp.
Foligno scored twice for the Jackets, reaching the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his NHL career. Both goals were courtesy of Dubinsky assists, the first a rebound of a Dubinsky high-zone shot that Foligno batted out of the air and the second a spin-around rebound for Foligno in the slot off a James Wisniewski point shot. Even Tropp was in on the action, deflecting in his first goal since Dec. 21, 2013 of last year -- 65 games ago.
Cam Atkinson broke his drought against Washington on a helpful hop off an opponent’s face, and Foligno got some help in opening the scoring for the Jackets. Off a defensive zone draw, the Jackets gained control while Blues’ forward Alex Steen snapped his stick. Lined up across from Steen was Foligno, who darted down the ice to create a 3-on-2 while Steen went to the bench for a stick. Foligno won the race to the front, whacked in a rebound, and the Jackets were on their way.
Richards said the Jackets would need to be prepared to play a “man’s game” against the fast, strong Blues. That’s just what they did, playing physical through the neutral zone and challenging the Blues at the defensive blue line. Part of that was attributed to the tough ice entering the zone, where the Jackets forced turnovers and likely made a team that is very strong off the rush play more of a dump-and-chase grinding game than they wanted to.
“It’s amazing the difference,” said Foligno. “When you’re neutral zone is solid and cleaned up it’s amazing how you feel like you have the puck a lot more and they don’t have a lot of time.”
Feeling Good Down Deep
Every so often, these games happen. Like a baseball game that is decided by the second inning, every pitch finds the fat part of the bat and every hit finds a hole. By the time Foligno had pushed the lead to 5-1, it was believable that the Jackets weren’t done. That was important for some depth players to gain confidence.
Foligno and Dubinsky obviously welcomed strong scoring nights, but the Jackets need more consistent offense from their depth players. Before tonight, Calvert had scored in only one of the last 13 games. Atkinson’s goal was his second game-winner in five games after a lengthy drought of his own.