The Blue Jackets extended their point streak to a season-high seven games -- and its winning streak to four -- with a 5-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena.
Game in a Paragraph
A goal in the first 30 seconds of the night set the Blue Jackets off on a successful evening against the last-place team in the Metropolitan Division. Columbus led 2-1 after a period then 3-1 after two before finishing off the win with a pair of empty-net goals.
Video: Bjorkstrand nets a pair to lift Columbus to victory
Quote of the Game
Zach Werenski: "Obviously we're down guys, but it's no excuse in the NHL. Teams go through injuries. You have to find a way at the end of the day. Every guy that has come up here has played well for us. It's all you can ask for."
- Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice, giving him six career multigoal games and two this week. He has five goals and two assists in his current four-game point streak.
- Vladislav Gavrikov scored his third career goal in his rookie season.
- Joonas Korpisalo was excellent again in net, finishing with 21 saves on 22 shots.
PHOTO GALLERY: Blue Jackets 5, Devils 1
Columbus took a 1-0 lead on the very first shift of the game thanks to some good work by the Bjorkstrand line with Gus Nyquist and Boone Jenner. Jenner won the puck along the right-wing wall and found Bjorkstrand in the slot, and his shot went right through the legs of Devils goalie Gilles Senn just 26 seconds into the game.
Senn was making his first career NHL start and didn't get much time to settle in, as Columbus -- after taking a pair of penalties in the opening six minutes -- made it 2-0 with Bjorkstrand's second goal at 8:06. It was somewhat similar, as Bjorkstrand again scored from the slot, this time skating the puck there and beating Senn to the glove.
Making his NHL debut, Blue Jackets forward Ryan MacInnis had a couple of good looks in the first period, but the Devils made it a 2-1 game with 4:32 left in the first. With the teams skating 4-on-4, Will Butcher had time from the left dot and sniped a shot over the blocker short-side on Korpisalo.
The Blue Jackets pushed for a third goal in the second period and got it at 13:13 when Gavrikov scored. It was a transition play, with Eric Robinson finding Gavrikov trailing the play and the defenseman's wrister beating Senn to the blocker.
Video: NJD@CBJ: Gavrikov finds twine from the high slot
Korpisalo kept it a 3-1 game with a save in the dying seconds of the period. With the Blue Jackets on the power play, Travis Zajac found Blake Coleman cutting to the net but Korpisalo got a pad on his redirection try and then covered the rebound as the horn sounded.
Columbus nearly tacked on more in the third as Dubois hit the crossbar in the midst of an extended power play early in the period, but Senn was game throughout to keep it a 3-1 contest.
New Jersey pulled the goalie on a power play in the final three minutes, and with 2:52 left, just six seconds into that power play, Zach Werenski scored an empty-net goal from behind his own goal line. Nyquist then put the cherry on top with 1:12 to go with a dandy of an empty-netter, deking past two guys before sending it home.
1. The goal from the beginning was to jump on New Jersey. Not only were the Devils playing on the second night of a back-to-back while Columbus was off Friday night, but Senn was in his first NHL start. The focus was pucks on net early, and the 2-0 lead on the strength of a pair of Bjorkstrand goals was the perfect start. For a Blue Jackets team that hasn't had many early two-goal leads, it helped set the tone for what became a workmanlike win. "It's huge," Jenner said. "We were focused on our start. I think our first 10 minutes were really good in jumping on them, and Bjorky was able to get a couple early."
2. One of the big storylines throughout the Blue Jackets' streak has been the ridiculous run of injuries that has hit the team, and one might have been added to that when Bjorkstrand left the game in the third period and did not return. There was no update on his status after the game, but the team didn't miss a beat Saturday with Jakob Lilja and MacInnis being inserted into the lineup after being recalled Friday from AHL Cleveland. Lilja played well enough to move up to Bjorkstrand's spot when he left, while MacInnis was excellent with four shots on goal, two faceoff wins and a penalty drawn. "The two guys that were brought up here for tonight's game, I thought they played very well," head coach John Tortorella said.
3. The last three times the Blue Jackets poked their head above .500, they immediately lost. This time was different, as the team's season-best streak has allowed it to move up to 16-14-6. That's still just 16 wins in 36 games, but the Blue Jackets are getting closer to getting back where they need to be to have a chance at postseason play. Don't worry too much about the standings at the moment, but this little run is exactly what the team needed and when it needed it most. "We have a great confidence right now," Gavrikov said, and it's showing. Next up, the team has to finish the pre-holiday schedule strong Monday on Long Island.
The Blue Jackets have won eight straight vs. New Jersey. ... Senn finished with 35 saves as the Blue Jackets had a 40-22 edge in shots on goal. ... With Bjorkstrand's two goals in the first, it's the fourth time this season a Columbus player has scored twice in the same period. He did it last Monday night with a pair of goals in the third period vs. Washington. … Nyquist (2-5-7 in five games), Jenner (1-4-5 in four games), Pierre-Luc Dubois (2-3-5 in three games) and Seth Jones (0-5-5 in three games) continued point streaks while Robinson (1-3-4 in five games) and Alexandre Texier (2-3-5 in five games) continued strong runs of play. ... Jones now has 250 points in his NHL career. ... Dubois played in his 200th NHL game with the Blue Jackets. … Gavrikov's goal from Robinson and Texier marked just the third time in franchise history that three rookies factored into the same goal, and the first time since Mar. 20, 2007. … The Blue Jackets improved to 8-3-0 in their last 11 home games.
Columbus had to make two more changes to the lineup because of injury, with recalls MacInnis and Lilja going in for Cam Atkinson (injury) and Marko Dano (sent to AHL Cleveland). Sonny Milano missed a fourth straight game with injury while David Savard missed a second consecutive contest because of illness.
Bjorkstrand also left the game in the third period with an injury and did not return.
The Blue Jackets finish the pre-Christmas slate Monday night with a game at the New York Islanders in Uniondale.