It wouldn't have been a big surprise if Matt Calvert's night was over after taking a slap shot to the forehead.
The scene just inside the Columbus blue line was gruesome. Calvert's forehand was split open, blood spilling on to the ice, athletic trainer Mike Vogt hurriedly shuffling over to help him. In Calvert's mind, he was just doing his job.
And not only did he return to the game, he changed the game with a brilliant shorthanded play in crunch time.
On a 2-on-1 with William Karlsson, Calvert - the Blue Jackets' most effective penalty killer - received a pass at the attacking line and decisively snapped the game-winning goal through Henrik Lundqvist with 8:25 remaining in regulation. Nationwide Arena erupted, delighted by the go-ahead goal but equally (if not more so) appreciative of the guy who scored it.
"I'm happy for him," said coach John Tortorella. "He's worked very hard - he scores a big goal. He's a guy that's had a lot of chances and has developed a lot with that line but has come up empty. And he just scores a huge goal."
Video: Torts' reaction to another Blue Jackets win at home
In an emotional game against a division opponent that had been filling the net with relative ease, the Blue Jackets played a patient, calculated game and waited for their chance to strike. The final product was perhaps their biggest win of the young season, setting a new franchise record with a seventh consecutive victory on home ice.
Here's what we learned:
Opportunistic offense strikes: Each team managed three shots on goal in a rather dull first period (Karlsson scored the opening goal late in the first), but in the second period, things got interesting. The Blue Jackets scored their first two goals on nearly identical plays; first, it was Karlsson who picked off an exit pass from JT Miller and found himself virtually undetected high in the slot. He walked into a slapper that leaked through Lundqvist for a 1-0 Columbus lead with 3:26 left in the frame. In the second, Sam Gagner followed suit - intercepting a pass and snapping a quick shot over Lundqvist's glove that rolled off his back and in. The winning goal was a patient play born from a quick read that sprung Karlsson and Calvert on a 2-on-1 rush, and Calvert made no mistake.
Video: NYR@CBJ: Calvert nets shorthanded goal on two-on-one
PK comes up (very) clutch: For all the talk about the Blue Jackets' power play and how it's been a difference-maker, the penalty killers have certainly pulled their weight. They were tested tonight in a 2-2 game deep in the third period against a Rangers power play that's loaded with talent, and as they've done time and again, made their mark on the game. Calvert said he was surprised that Karlsson passed to him as early as he did, but after he shifted from backhand to forehand, he knew it was "shoot" all the way; he said that goal, the Blue Jackets' first shorthanded goal of the season, was a rewarding moment to make a difference in the game and pay back the power play.
"Our power play has won us a lot of games this year," Calvert said. "As a PK (unit), we want to be good too. To be able to score a goal tonight, at that time in the game, a lot of people are thinking (the Rangers) have the advantage and they're going to try and win the game. We got a great 2-on-1 break there…we found a way to get it done."
Defending home ice: Last year, winning games at home was a struggle for the Blue Jackets, and particularly so early in the season. From the start of training camp, it has been a focus for Tortorella and the coaches as they take the "one day at a time" approach with this young team. In order to climb the ladder and contend well into the springtime, it is imperative to make home ice a house of horrors for the opposition. Despite dropping their first two games at Nationwide Arena this season, the Blue Jackets have reeled off seven straight against quality competition, but this win tonight may have been their strongest statement yet.
"We're looking to try to put steps into be who we are," Tortorella said. "If we want an opportunity to compete in this league in February, March and April, your home record needs to stand in there. We struggled early but have come on real strong here. It has to continue to give us any chance of trying to compete at the end of the year."