The weirdest game the Blue Jackets played all regular season might have taken place March 12.
Coming off a shutout loss on Long Island, Columbus returned home to Nationwide Arena and put up seven goals in a much-needed victory.
The offensive explosion wasn't that weird -- the Blue Jackets were the highest-scoring team in franchise history this season.
What made that game stand out is the performance came against the Boston Bruins.
Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm1: Dubinsky, Dubois score 13 seconds apart
The Bruins were one of the NHL's stingiest teams this season, placing third in the league in goals allowed per game and second in 5-on-5 goals against.
Since that seven-goal outburst, in which the Blue Jackets chased Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask from the game, Columbus has met Boston three times and scored a total of five goals. It might be cliché to say the Jackets poked a sleeping bear, but it is fair to say the Bruins have played a much better -- and more fitting -- defensive game in the last trio of contests in the series.
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So if Columbus is going to get back on track in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after their Game 1 loss to the Bruins on Thursday night, the Blue Jackets will have to find a way to manufacture more goals.
"They just play really structured," captain Nick Foligno said. "They are predictable, but they play the right way. It's a big lesson for us because that's how we need to play."
Columbus did it in fits and starts in Game 1 against the Bruins, undone seemingly as much as the extended break as anything else. Once the Blue Jackets got through the tough first period that just about everyone expected, the team played much more of its game.
But unlike the Tampa Bay series, which was more about making sure the Lightning's big guns didn't go off, this series will be about fighting inch-by-inch for ice. The Bruins are a big step up physically, and whereas when the Lightning turned physical midway through the series as the Jackets got them off their game, taking the body and taking away time and space is in the DNA of this Boston team that is in the second round for the seventh time in 11 years.
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It's a team built for playoff hockey, and that means playing a heavy game and making it hard on the other team to score goals. In its seven-game series win over a high-flying Toronto team, the Bruins gave up 17 goals.
"It's going to be a series where we have to get to the blue and fight for every inch," Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson said. "We knew from the get-go that's what it was going to be."
But Columbus saw some signs being able to play that style as Game 1 went on. The Blue Jackets -- in particular the line with Boone Jenner centering Riley Nash and Brandon Dubinsky -- were able to create offense through the forecheck as the game went on.
From there, the Jackets were able to get two goals in 13 seconds in the third period to take the lead. On the first goal, a strong forecheck by that line resulted in the Jackets forcing a turnover and getting the puck deep. From there, Jenner played the puck back to Seth Jones, whose slap shot was deflected twice in front for a goal that was credited to Dubinsky.
That paved the way for a skilled goal shortly thereafter, as Artemi Panarin came in with speed and ripped a slap shot that deflected home off Pierre-Luc Dubois.
To Dubois, that's the key to the series -- the ability to score goals both with skill and tenacity.
"I think we have the personnel to be able to score those (gritty) goals, but we have the personnel to be able to score those skill goals on the rushes and stuff like that," Dubois said. "It's just up to us to read the situation. If sometime we have to get our noses dirty, we'll do it. We have guys like that that can do that. I think that's what's dangerous about our team. We can score any type of goal."
Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, two Charlie Coyle goals gave the Bruins the win in Game 1, but Columbus feels like it found the recipe for success. Now comes the chance to show it in Game 2.
"I thought we started dictating and started taking over in the second period and started playing the way we know we're capable of playing," Atkinson said. "We'll be ready to go next game."