John Tortorella admitted he had some concerns about how the Blue Jackets would start this game.
After 20 minutes had elapsed, those concerns had just about dissipated.
Less than a week ago, Columbus went into Amalie Arena and outplayed the Lightning en route to a 5-3 win, and Tortorella figured the visitors would come into this game with a different attitude about them. The Blue Jackets, however, did most of the inflicting in this game and set the tone with an authoritative first period.
William Karlsson scored the opening goal at 5:30 of the first, calling his own number on a 3-on-1 and beating Andrei Vasilevskiy to the long side. It was one of 16 first-period shots for Columbus.
His line drove the bus for the Blue Jackets (12-5-4), who wrapped up the best November in franchise history to tie idle Washington on points (28) for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Columbus posted a 9-2-3 overall record this month and 7-1-1 at Nationwide Arena, a building they've established as a tough place to play.
"We played hard, played well, played fast," Scott Hartnell said. "We played great defense. They didn't have much time and space with the puck - that's what a successful team needs to do game in and game out, and we've done a good job of that."
Video: Torts' reaction to the Blue Jackets' 5-1 win
Here's what we learned:
Depth equals options: Lightning coach Jon Cooper said last week that the Blue Jackets' balance up front makes them a difficult match-up; opposing teams have to choose which line they want to check, and when a few different lines have shown they can do damage offensively, it makes the game plan more difficult to draw up. In this game, the Blue Jackets got a massive contribution from the Hartnell-Karlsson-Anderson line (which accounted for three goals and six points), a goal from Alexander Wennberg's line and a goal from Sam Gagner's line. Gagner's goal was his eighth of the season, tying him for the team lead with Cam Atkinson and Nick Foligno. Gagner had eight goals all of last season with the Flyers.
When one line has an off night, it's usually been another line (or two) to step up and make something happen.
"Everybody contributed," Tortorella said. "Solid team win. It's great we scored five goals, but it's how we scored those five goals. It's very important when you go through a long season that you get contributions from everybody; Bill's line has been knocking on the door for quite a while here, and it's nice to see them get rewarded."
Video: TBL@CBJ: Karlsson fires a wrister past Vasilevskiy
Score first, keep the pedal down: Karlsson's opening goal was the 15th time in 21 games that the Blue Jackets have scored the first goal. They're 10-2-3 in those games and tonight was an example of something they've done quite often - once they got the first goal, they kept pushing and built upon that lead. They were up 5-0 in the third period before Valtteri Filppula spoiled Sergei Bobrovsky's shutout with 2:50 left in regulation, a lead that was a slow build as they continued to stick with their game. Columbus had 72 percent of even-strength shot attempts in the first period and finished at 52 percent, scoring twice in the second period and twice more in the third.
Hartsy's back on the board: Prior to tonight, Hartnell hadn't scored a goal in 12 games despite plenty of chances, and his line seemed to drag the rest of the team into the fray. His goal, No. 5 on the season, was produced by a great rush up the ice and a better pass from David Savard across the slot. Hartnell gave credit to assistant coach Kenny McCudden for helping him with redirect plays after practice, which was exactly how he scored his goal tonight. When Hartnell is finding the net and feeling good about his game, it gives the Blue Jackets even more offensive options and the aforementioned depth becomes a legitimate asset.
"It was one of the best games I've seen Scotty Hartnell play since I've been here," Tortorella said. "He looked quicker, he made a lot of things happen for that line."