Perhaps a tad begrudgingly, the Blue Jackets will take this point and move on.
They outplayed the Avalanche, yes, and for most of the game, were looking for a bounce or two to go their way. One break went against them with a questionable goaltender interference call in the second period that wiped out a Boone Jenner goal, but in the dying seconds of regulation, they mustered up a little more magic.
With Curtis McElhinney on the bench for an extra attacker, Cam Atkinson got two attempts on Semyon Varlamov and cashed the second one just in the nick of time. His quick shot ramped up Nathan MacKinnon's stick and over Varlamov's glove with 6.5 seconds to play, securing a deserved point for the Blue Jackets, who fell in OT on Matt Duchene's tap-in goal.
Still, there's plenty for John Tortorella to like about this game. On the tail end of a back-to-back (the Blue Jackets' fifth so far), his team attempted 92 shots in all situations and dominated the puck possession game. They pumped 42 shots on Varlamov and kept pushing forward despite a strong effort from the Colorado goaltender, who did his best to steal one.
They're 8-1-2 in their last 11 games and have three games in the next four days. It's no doubt going to feel like a missed opportunity - especially after the late goal - but the next item of business is Wednesday's game against Calgary.
"I thought our first period was really good. The second period, we lost a little intensity," Tortorella said. "I'm pleased the way kept coming, kept coming, got a point. It's a game that you need to try to find a way to win if you want to get somewhere in April. That's a huge point for us. I wish we got the second."
Here's what we learned:
Clutch on the draw: When Tortorella needs a face-off win, he feels pretty comfortable calling Brandon Dubinsky's number. He won a series of important draws in the offensive zone late in regulation, enabling the Blue Jackets to keep the pressure on and eventually net the tying goal. He won 16-of-25 face-offs tonight (64 percent) and was rolling in that department, so it's no surprise he kept sliding back into the circle.
Video: Torts' thoughts on the OT loss to the Avalanche
"He won some big ones," Tortorella said. "He's burning a hole through me on the ice, daring me to take him off. I know him well enough that he's going to (win) the third one, and he does. That's Dubi. He's been struggling offensively, but he has the will, that intangible…he just brings people into it. He was daring me to take him off the ice, and I love it. I love it."
Jones makes an impact: The return of Seth Jones, who missed the last six games with a broken foot, was felt immediately. Tortorella put him back with defense partner Zach Werenski, and it did not take long to see the calming effect those two can have on a game. Werenski played a game-high 25:04 and was +27 shot attempts at even strength; Jones played 23:46 and was +19 in even strength attempts. He was active, assertive and added an important element to the Blue Jackets' defense in his first game since Nov. 5.
"I had some shots on net, and had some good plays in the d-zone," Jones said. "I thought I could've been better. Just need to get some timing back in certain areas."
Video: Jones on his first game back from injury
It felt inevitable: It was an all-out assault by the Blue Jackets in the third period and more so as regulation wound down. Tortorella said they had a good feeling on the bench, and that the tying goal was only a matter of time. It took 19 minutes and 53.5 seconds of the third period, but it finally came to fruition.
"We had 92 shot attempts tonight," Tortorella said. "I don't have a lot of complaints. We still found a way to grind away and get a point out of it."