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Labatt What We Learned: CBJ 3, ANA 2 (OT)

Werenski's first career game winner gives Blue Jackets a key victory

by Rob Mixer @RobMixer /

Werenski buries overtime winner

ANA@CBJ: Wennberg spins, sets up Werenski for OT win

Alexander Wennberg carries the puck in and sends a pass to Zach Werenski, who buries a wrister to give the Blue Jackets a 3-2 win in overtime

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They don't ask how - just how many.

First period? Solid. Second period? Mostly decent. Third period? Hang on tight. It was that kind of night at Nationwide Arena, but for the second time in three home games, the Blue Jackets bent a little but hung in there to get the job done.

Goals from Boone Jenner (his first of the season) and Brandon Saad (his fourth) staked the Blue Jackets to a 2-0 lead only 5:29 into the game, forcing Randy Carlyle to take his timeout and settle the Ducks down. After that, Anaheim turned it up and took it to the Blue Jackets for several stretches, but it wasn't as though the Blue Jackets were dominated and had to rely on their goaltender.

The winning goal was a work of art crafted by Alexander Wennberg in 3-on-3 overtime, roaring down the left wing before slamming on the brakes and feathering a backhand pass to Zach Werenski in the middle of the ice. The pass hit Werenski on the backhand, but a lightning-quick forehand transfer led to a gaping net to deposit his first career game-winning goal.

The penalty kill stood its ground…again. The power play had an off night, but three very nice plays at even strength gave Columbus enough offense to secure two points. The Blue Jackets are 6-3-2 after tonight's overtime win and ship off to Boston feeling good about themselves once again.

Here's what we learned tonight:

1. Go forth, young man: John Tortorella admitted that Werenski didn't play his best game tonight (as did Werenski), but these temporary dips don't seem to bother the player one bit. He battled through a tough night tonight and, in the absence of Seth Jones, was asked to take on a larger role alongside David Savard and handled it well. He hadn't played 3-on-3 much at all before his NHL career began, and said post-game that making reads and joining the rush in that 'wild west' format are all based on instinct. On the game-deciding play, he leapt over the boards and headed straight into the slot, where Wennberg found him and Werenski found the net.

Video: Torts reacts to the Blue Jackets overtime win

2. Big night for Saad: A lot of conversation leading up to this game surrounded whether Saad would or would not play; he didn't have a regular line in practice on Tuesday and Tortorella gave no indication before the game if Saad was in or out. That decision would end up being moot due to Brandon Dubinsky's lower body injury, and Saad was back in there alongside normal line mates Wennberg and Nick Foligno. He gave the Blue Jackets a two-goal cushion in the first period, and after nearly fumbling the puck in overtime, used his legs to recover and break up a play to send Wennberg going the other way, leading to the Werenski goal.

3. Just find a way: We've mentioned this a few times, but it is very important for the Blue Jackets to build confidence in different ways. That means they have to win games differently and go through a variety of situations, and tonight's game is another for them to bank and go forward. They had an early lead, sagged in the second period and it caught up with them in the third period, but after two goals against they were able to lock it down. Keeping your opponent at or below two goals gives you a better-than-good chance at success in today's NHL, and though the Blue Jackets had to work for it, they managed to get it done. Tortorella called it "an ugly game" but also said getting two points when they didn't have their best stuff can only be described as another step in the right direction. There's work to be done, he said, but closing this game out the way they did makes the coach feel good about his group.

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