Todd Richards shuffled the deck with his forward lines prior to tonight's game, and in uniting Ryan Johansen, Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson, he just may have found a spark.
BLUE JACKETS 5 | ISLANDERS 2
They were the best players on the ice tonight and dragged the rest of the group into the fight, and as Richards said post-game: your big dogs have to be your big dogs, and the No. 1 line was comprised of three of the biggest dogs on the ice tonight at Nationwide Arena.
Seven points (three goals, four assists) was the final total produced by that new-look trio, one that took over the game in the third period.
Johansen said post-game that for whatever reason, tonight's game just felt like the one that would get the Blue Jackets headed in the right direction.
They started well despite only two shots in the first period, they put a much better second period together and seized an opportunity in the final 20 minutes with the game's outcome in the balance; Umberger's power play goal just 27 seconds into the third really turned it up a notch, and the Johansen line took it from there.Here are some random thoughts, notes and observations...
- The Islanders scored their two goals off turnovers by the Blue Jackets, who didn't make many mistakes with the puck tonight - a complete reversal from what Richards called an "embarrassing" performance on Thursday. Johansen said they were really pleased with how they managed the puck throughout the game but especially so in the third period: they took care of business in their own end and didn't give the Islanders anything in the neutral zone.
- Johansen registered the first three-point game of his NHL career tonight and it was much-deserved. He, Dubinsky and Atkinson fired the puck from everywhere tonight and constantly drove the front of the net.
Dubinsky's pass to spring Johansen in the second period was a great play all around; Johansen blocked a shot at the blue line and took off up-ice, allowing Dubinsky to spot him late in a shift with a lead pass. Sick finish, too.
- Sergei Bobrovsky didn't have to be as good tonight as he did on Thursday, but it was another solid performance between the pipes for the Jackets. He made 24 saves and picked up an assist on Wisniewski's length-of-the-ice empty netter with 68 seconds left in regulation.
- Columbus is now 11-1-4 all-time versus the Islanders (7-0-2 at home).
- The Blue Jackets were 37-for-63 (58.7%) in the faceoff circle against the Islanders. They continue to rank second in the Eastern Conference with a team FO% of 52.5.
- Another steady, solid night at the office for Ryan Murray: he logged 18:45 alongside Wisniewski, playing a chunk of that time against the Islanders' top units, and was +2 on the night. His cumulative +3 total in 16 games is second-best on the Jackets behind David Savard (+4).