John Tortorella still had concerns about his team's readiness - even after a win tonight - but in this case, he liked how the Blue Jackets seized momentum and got themselves into the game.
It did not need to be said: this was an important game. Columbus had lost four of its last six games since the end of a 16-game winning streak, and three of those losses had come to teams in the Metropolitan Division. They knew it was time to get back on track.
Despite a poor start and yielding the game's first goal, the Blue Jackets had a counterpunch late in the first period that seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game. Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky, two guys Tortorella would love to see get going offensively, scored goals 35 seconds apart to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.
There was some "uh-oh" in the building after Sebastian Aho scored first for Carolina, but those two quick goals from the Blue Jackets turned the game the other way.
Sergei Bobrovsky, back for the first time since Jan. 8, made 24 saves to record his 27th win of the season and help the Blue Jackets get their 30th win overall. At 30-9-4, the Blue Jackets are the first NHL team to 30 wins this season and reclaimed a share of top spot in the league with 64 points.
Video: Torts' reaction to a CBJ win over the Hurricanes
Here's what we learned:
BIG GOALS FROM A BIG LINE: One thing Tortorella says he doesn't have to worry about with Jenner, Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson is their preparation. They're ready to go every night, and though two of them had been fighting it on the offensive end, he knew they would eventually break out of it. It was just a matter of when. On this night, Jenner's goal was important because it answered the Hurricanes' goal only 23 seconds later, and Dubinsky capped off a momentum-changing sequence with his first of two goals at 18:52 of the first.
"They've worked hard through it," Tortorella said. "They're ready to play all the time. It was a good night for them. (The two quick goals) was really good to get the momentum back on our side."
Video: CAR@CBJ: Dubinsky nets second with long-range wrister
WELCOME BACK, BOB: No disrespect is meant to the other Blue Jackets goaltenders when their teammates heap praise upon Bobrovsky. He's their backbone, their stabilizing force and their great equalizer, and it's no secret that they missed him over the past week-plus. He didn't have a ton of work tonight, but as Tortorella said, he was sharp and looked locked-in right from the get-go. He made a handful of key saves in the first period while the Blue Jackets struggled to escape their own zone, but once the team got its bearings, Bobrovsky was there to keep the house tidy and did a solid job.
"I think it relaxes the players," Tortorella said, referencing Bobrovsky's effect on the team. "They feel really confident with him. I thought he was really sharp (tonight). Bob's on a different plane. He's a top goalie in the National Hockey League."
Video: Bobrovsky on a 24-save win tonight vs. Carolina
GOOD TO BE HOME: After not getting their desired results on a three-game road trip through Carolina and Florida last week, the Blue Jackets were looking forward to getting back to Nationwide Arena and building upon their early home-ice success. Tonight's win gives them 15 wins in their last 18 games at home (15-2-1), and they put together a solid performance over the final 40 minutes in a game they really wanted (and needed) to win.
"It's so much fun to play in front of our fans," Bobrovsky said. "It's all good."