John Tortorella and his coaching staff talked before tonight's game about the importance of this particular game. He called it a "culture game" for his young team - how would they respond after a lopsided loss in Boston two nights ago?
In short, he saw some good and some bad, but more good than bad. The Blue Jackets went for another one of their offensive outbursts, scoring eight times against the St. Louis Blues in an 8-4 win at Nationwide Arena.
They broke a 1-1 tie wide open with six unanswered goals but hit a few bumps along the way, and it wasn't just Tortorella letting it be known after the game.
The players were cognizant of their inconsistent play in this game. They scored eight goals (and have 21 goals in their last three home games), but they did not defend as they have in recent games and felt they gave the Blues a few free ones.
Not often would you think the goaltender to be a major story in this type of game, but Sergei Bobrovsky held it together for the Blue Jackets on more than a few occasions. He made 33 saves and bailed his team out in a sluggish second period, and didn't have much of a chance on any of St. Louis' four goals, all of which came on the power play.
Here's what we learned tonight:
1. A much-needed breakout night: With Brandon Dubinsky in the lineup after a two-game absence, the Blue Jackets got one of their emotional leaders back - and he joined the scoring party at the ideal time. It's been a struggle offensively for both Dubinsky and Boone Jenner, who played on a line with Cam Atkinson tonight, but that trio enjoyed a productive evening together. Dubinsky scored his first goal of the season, Jenner had two assists and Atkinson led the charge with four assists to set a new career high. The Blue Jackets were looking for things to break in favor of this line at some point in the near future, and hopefully this gets them started. They're a better team when 17, 38 and 13 are clicking.
Video: STL@CBJ: Dubinsky sweeps in first goal of the year
Said Dubinsky: "The biggest thing is we put pucks in areas to get it back. We haven't been hard enough on pucks. You can see it - when we're hard on pucks, we start feeding off each other and things start going our way."
2. Off night for the PK: The Blue Jackets have relied heavily on their penalty killing to get them out of tough spots, but tonight, it just wasn't there. Tortorella gave credit to the Blues, who moved the puck quickly and broke down the Blue Jackets' coverage, but also said he didn't see the cohesion on the kill that he'd seen previously. St. Louis scored four power play goals tonight and really, it was their only opportunity to stay in the game.
Video: STL@CBJ: Werenski smokes a power-play goal in the 3rd
3. High tide times four: One of the ingredients in the Blue Jackets' recipe for success has been their ability to roll four lines, three defense pairs and put opposing teams back on their heels. Lately, it's been a four-line rotation that's not only balancing minutes but contributing offensively, too; when the Blue Jackets are skating, forechecking and creating opportunities, they "come in waves" as Sam Gagner put it. Every skater played at least 10 minutes tonight and 13 players recorded at least a point. The Blue Jackets received offense from every line and the defense helped out, as well, with Markus Nutivaara (his first NHL goal) and Zach Werenski tallying goals from the back end.