The Blue Jackets had been in a similar situation to the one they faced tonight with 20 minutes remaining.
Their first period was dominant, again. They made a few mistakes in the second period, which allowed the Avalanche to work their way back into the game. Here they were in a 2-2 game going into the third period, and again, these Blue Jackets seemed quite comfortable when the game was up for grabs.
Boone Jenner - finally - broke through and scored a huge goal for his team, breaking the tie midway through the third period to give the Blue Jackets a 3-2 win at Pepsi Center. Not without some drama in the final minutes, the win pushed Columbus to 13-5-4 overall and 30 points, the most points through 22 games in franchise history.
With this win and a Capitals regulation loss, the Blue Jackets leapfrogged into third place in the Metropolitan Division. They are one point behind second-place Pittsburgh and three behind the division-leading New York Rangers, with two and three games in hand, respectively. Alas, the micro-level picture remains intact and the Blue Jackets want to keep finding ways to win.
"I thought we played well right on through," said head coach John Tortorella. "We didn't give them much, and I thought we had the puck most of the evening. You knew something funky was going to go on in the game.
"A good way to win it - we just stayed with it and I thought we had a really good third period."
Here's what we learned:
The Dubi line strikes: Cam Atkinson was all over the rink tonight. He had a handful of great chances but the puck didn't bounce his way. Brandon Dubinsky, as he usually does, won several key face-offs in the third period. Jenner was around the net and has been going there more frequently of late, and got rewarded with the most important goal of the game. Tortorella has shown a lot of faith in this line by keeping them together despite some offensive struggles, but they paid back their coach's trust to help secure two points tonight.
"Dubi's line had some really good momentum shifts," Tortorella said. "(Cam) had a number of chances that he just couldn't get done. It's good to see (Jenner) get a goal. We didn't lose our patience, we didn't open up in the third period, we just went back to our game. I thought we deserved to win the hockey game."
Video: CBJ@COL: Jenner buires Atkinson's pinpoint pass
Saad warming up: Brandon Saad was one of the more noticeable players in the Blue Jackets' hot start to this game. He opened the scoring by cleaning up a rebound in front of Semyon Varlamov, and whenever he had the puck in space, there came the feeling that something good was going to happen. After scoring the lead goal, he set up Nick Foligno's ninth of the season on a fast-developing 3-on-1 rush up the ice; Seth Jones made the zone entry and passed to Saad, who found Foligno on the back side for a tap-in 2-0 lead. Saad's multi-point night moved him 19 points on the season, one point away from becoming the fourth Blue Jacket with 20 points. Foligno's goal pushed him to the 20-point plateau.
Video: CBJ@COL: Foligno scores on tic-tac-toe passing play
Knowledge is power: The Blue Jackets are gaining confidence in not just their ability to take back a game in the third period, but also in their ability to weather a storm and get right back on the horse. Sure, their play sagged for a few minutes in the second period, but Jenner said they "wiped the slate clean" for the third period and were ready to go. Columbus had over 60 percent of 5-on-5 shot attempts in the game (60.26; 56.6 percent in all situations) and even when their power play came up empty on several chances - including two brief 5-on-3s - they hung in and controlled the game at even strength.
"We're going to have to win some gritty games," Dubinsky said. "They surged on us there (in the second period), but it's a sign of a good team in the third period, on the road, finding a way to get two points. Our third periods have been big for us all year long."