The Blue Jackets improved to 10-1-4 in their last 15 games with a 4-3 victory vs. Anaheim on Tuesday night at the Honda Center.
Game in a Paragraph
After another slow start for Columbus, the Blue Jackets again battled back for the second night in a row to earn a win in Southern California. In this one, Columbus got better as the game went on, turning 1-0 and 2-1 deficits into a 3-2 lead by the end of the second period. Things got a bit crazy late but the Blue Jackets held on for the win.
Video: Werenski, Dubois lead Jackets past Ducks, 4-3
Quote of the Game
Forward Nathan Gerbe on the team's ability to battle back from adversity: "It's impressive, I think -- very impressive. Just the resolve this group has, the patience and the attention to detail, that's the identity of this team. We're missing a lot of guys through the lineup. Everyone is just trying to bring that game."
- Zach Werenski scored twice, giving him seven goals in the past five games and a 12-10-21 line in the last 22 games. He now leads NHL defensemen and all Blue Jackets players with 15 goals on the season.
- Eric Robinson scored his fifth goal of the season and his career and his first since Dec. 16.
- Gerbe made it goals in two straight games with an equalizing goal in the second period.
It was a sloppy beginning for the Blue Jackets for the second night in a row, as Anaheim had 11 shots on goal in the first seven minutes and also had a 1-0 lead. Ryan Getzlaf got the Ducks on the board 3:06 into the game as he won a faceoff from the right dot back to Michael Del Zotto, who took a quick shot that Getzlaf deflected through Elvis Merzlikins' legs.
Columbus slowly steadied itself, though, and tied the game 1-1 at 11:47. The team's fourth line made it happen with a nice rush up the ice, as Riley Nash fed Robinson into the zone with speed and he burst into the left circle and ripped a wrist shot short-side past Ryan Miller's blocker.
The tie didn't last very long into the second period, though, as Anaheim reclaimed the lead just 24 seconds into the second period. The Blue Jackets had trouble clearing the puck and Ondrej Kase grabbed it along the right wall, turned toward the net and let loose a quick shot that beat Merzlikins short side.
The Blue Jackets also started to find more of their game as the second period went on, just like the first, and had a power play that created a few chances. On the best, Werenski found a rebound and fed Gus Nyquist along the right-hand goal line, but his sharp-angle shot went underneath Miller and out the back side of the crease.
Then, in the final two minutes of the period, Columbus took the lead with a pair of goals. First, Gerbe got on the board at the 1:23 mark, as Pierre-Luc Dubois made a strong move with the puck and centered to Gerbe, who crashed the net and deflected the puck home from the top of the crease.
Anaheim challenged that the play was offside, but review showed a good goal, giving the Blue Jackets a power play that they took advantage of. After a scramble at the blue of the paint, Dubois got the puck off a pass from Nyquist and fed Werenski at the top of the slot and he drove home a shot past Miller's glove to make it 3-2.
In the third, Columbus was under siege in the final seven minutes, but Merzlikins made one huge stop at the doorstep and also got a little lucky as a shot he misplayed deflected to safety.
Things got a bit crazy with the Ducks net empty, as Werenski drilled home a long empty-netter with 1:33 to go, but Anaheim got one back with 43.4 seconds to play when Kase tipped home his second of the game. But Columbus finished it off from there, moving to 2-0 on the road trip to the West Coast.
1. If there's an enduring image of this game -- other than Werenski continuing to play with a stick as on fire as any in the NHL -- it might be Seth Jones playing a stretch of 3:26 at one point in the final 10 minutes with Columbus holding a 3-2 lead. He took the ice with 6:57 to go and left with 3:31 to play, then skated another 1:58 after that. It speaks to the trouble the Blue Jackets had in clearing the puck late but also Jones' ability to lead the way with his play and determination. "I started with Getzlaf and ended with Getzlaf, I think," Jones said. "That's a first. Hopefully that only happens one time this year, but obviously, whatever it takes." Head coach John Tortorella was impressed. "He didn't give," the coach said.
2. The stretch late in the second changed the game, and after 20-plus minutes at the start where the Blue Jackets again struggled to get to their game, Columbus put together a very strong finish to the period. "I thought we played not just a little bit better, I thought we played a lot better in the second period," Tortorella said. The reward came at the end of the period with two goals in the final two minutes, which totally altered the complexion of the game. "You go from down 2-1, thinking that you're probably going to end the period down 2-1, and then you get the goal so you think, 'OK, we're going to go into the third period bascially in a 0-0 game,' then you're going into the third period winning," Dubois said. "It changed a lot."
3. So don't look now, but there's a playoff race ahead. The win gave the Blue Jackets 24 of a possible 30 points in the last 15 games, moving Columbus to 50 points. That's enough to tie Philadelphia for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, though the Flyers do have a game in hand. The gap between the Blue Jackets and the final playoff spot felt like a mountain a month ago, but the Jackets have scaled that hill and are in the thick of it. "It's a lot of fun right now," Werenski said. "We're right in the thick of things for the playoffs. I know it's a long way away, but these are huge games for us."
Merzlikins finished with a career-high 37 saves as Anaheim outshot the Blue Jackets by a 30-27 margin. ... Werenski has three multigoal games in the last five games and is also one tally away from the CBJ single-season record for blueliners. ... With three primary assists, Dubois has a 4-11-15 line in the last 13 games. … Nyquist has 1-2-3 so far on the two games of the West Coast trip. ... The Blue Jackets improved to 6-1 in the last seven games in which they gave up the first goal after starting the year 0-10-5. … The Blue Jackets snapped a four-game losing streak to the Ducks. … Columbus is 6-0-3 in its last nine road games. ... Jakob Silfverberg, who entered the gamed tied for the Anaheim lead in scoring, left in the first period with an upper-body injury.
Columbus made no changes to the lineup, so scratches were forward Ryan MacInnis, defenseman Gabriel Carlsson and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (injury).
The Southern California back-to-back concluded, the Blue Jackets head north to continue the road trip in San Jose on Thursday night.