There was a little bit of everything to keep your attention in the Blue Jacket's 4-3 win against the Boston Bruins on Monday at Nationwide Arena, right down to the shootout that gave Columbus a pair of franchise records.
The Jackets (8-4-0) have won eight games and recorded 16 points in the month of October for the first time in their history, and that was only one of the notable things attached to this game.
They also showed up early, after poor starts in their previous two games, built a 3-0 lead on goals by David Savard, Boone Jenner and Tyler Motte, watched that lead disappear, regrouped to force the game past regulation and then won it on goals by Artemi Panarin and Oliver Bjorkstrand in the shootout.
"The first period was pretty good for us tonight," said Jenner, who scored his first goal of the season at 17:08 of the first to give the Jackets a 2-0 lead. "That's the way we want to start. They had a push [in the second]. We knew they were pushing. They got a couple back in the third, but to be able to regroup and find a way to win, that's a good sign."
The Blue Jackets' fast start was just the prelude to the night's entertainment, as it turned out.
Josh Anderson, who's 6-foot-3, 221-pounds, also fought 6-9, 250-pound Zdeno Chara, and held his own. Motte scored a goal in his Blue Jackets' debut, after being recalled from the Cleveland Monsters earlier in the day. Panarin celebrated his 26th birthday with the deciding goal in the shootout, and Bjorkstrand had an interesting night from start to finish.
He screened Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask on Savard's goal in the first. He was assessed a boarding major for a hit on Torey Krug in the third, which started a fracas that led to Boston's Kevan Miller going after him with a barrage of punches and being assessed a game misconduct penalty.
Finally, Bjorkstrand scored the goal that ended the shootout in the third round, after Panarin beat Rask in the second round and Jackets' goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made a great save against Brad Marchand.
Bjorkstrand's plan to beat Rask in the shootout was simple.
"Shoot the puck," he deadpanned. "There was no Plan B. It was just shoot the puck. That was my strong side. I don't have a lot of great shootout moves, so I like shooting the puck."
The Blue Jackets do, too, and they did in the first 20 minutes. Columbus owned the first period, taking a 2-0 lead on the goals by Savard and Jenner, and then Motte made it 3-0 at 8:27 of the second on a breakaway.
His goal was set up by a stretch pass from defenseman Markus Nutivaara, who sent the puck through Chara's legs, back to front, right to Motte's stick - yet another memorable moment in this game.
Another was Boston's first goal, which was scored on a power play by Patrice Bergeron to cut the Jackets' lead to 3-1 at 15:37 of the second, following a tripping penalty called on Brandon Dubinsky.
It was the first power-play goal allowed by the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena this season, ending a run of 17-for-17 - and 16 straight kills overall.
"I thought where we lost ourselves is we take a penalty, [Dubinsky's] penalty," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "Just a bad time. It's a bad penalty. That's a tired team on the ice there. They ice the puck and they have to stay on the ice, and we don't move our legs. You just know that you're not going to kill that off. It's just that bad of a penalty, for me. I don't think we lost total momentum, but we weren't the same after that."
The Bruins tied it 3-3 on goals in the third by Krug and Brad Marchand 1:21 apart, with Matt Calvert in the penalty box after his stick clipped a Bruins player in the face as Calvert was falling to the ice.
Rather than folding, the Blue Jackets found some resolve, forced it past regulation and ultimately won in the breakaways contest.
"Maybe we made some mistakes and it cost us some goals," Bjorkstrand said. "They had a pushback, and we stopped playing our game a little bit. That kind of gave them some room to come back in the game, and they did."
Prior to that, the Blue Jackets got off to exactly the kind of start they wanted.
They built their 3-0 lead, and looked poised to run away with the game after Motte scored in the second. It was impressive considering the Blue Jackets played without forwards Cam Atkinson, Sonny Milano and Zac Dalpe.
Atkinson was scratched with a lower-body injury, while Milano and Dalpe were healthy scratches - Milano for the first time this season. Tortorella instead started Scott Harrington as a seventh defensemen and rotated centers through the fourth line - which had new wings in Motte and Markus Hannikainen.
"I thought it was [Hannikainen's] best game," Tortorella said. "I like the two of them playing together. [It] gives us a little identity, where they're going to go chase pucks."
Chasing more wins, on the road, is the next challenge for the Jackets. They will practice in Columbus Tuesday and Wednesday, and then head off on a three-game road trip to play the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers.
Stocking up with eight wins in the season's first month was atop their agenda, and they found a way to get it done.
News & Notes
ATKINSON INJURED: Atkinson is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, which he tested out twice Monday before being scratched. Atkinson first got on the ice during the Blue Jackets' optional morning skate, but left early. He also came out for pregame warmup, and again left early.
MILANO SITS: Milano still leads the Blue Jackets with five goals, but didn't log many minutes the previous two games and was scratched for the first time this season. Milano, who'd been shifting on the fourth line, had just six shifts against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, when the Blue Jackets lost 4-1 at Scottrade Center, and played just one shift in the second and third periods.
"With Sonny, it's still a process," Tortorella said. "He's off the track a little bit, as far as away from the puck. We're trying to get him to understand that a little better and understand situations in the game."
MOTTE IMPRESSIVE: Prior to the game, Tortorella said it's up to young players like Motte to show him they deserve to be in the lineup. That's exactly what Motte did in his first game with the Blue Jackets, scoring a goal and putting four shots on net in 12:09. He will also be in the lineup Thursday in Florida against the Panthers.
"From his first shift on, I thought he gave us energy and did a lot of good things," Tortorella said. "So, I had to move him into a spot where he was getting more ice time, and good for him."
Motte, who had a hat trick and four goals in his last two games with Cleveland, was glad to show what he can do when given an opportunity.
"It's great to continue off my performance down in Cleveland, but the best thing was being able to play my game, and sticking true to myself," he said. "I was able to play my game, hop in the lineup and play with quite a few players and feel comfortable out there."
WHAT A PASS: Defenseman Markus Nutivaara had two primary assists, including the best pass of the game to spring Motte for a breakaway goal in the second. After getting the puck, he sent it sliding a long way down the ice, threading the needle between Chara's skates and hitting Motte in stride at the Bruins' blue line.
"It's one of the best passes I've been on the receiving end of," Motte said. "I'd like to see the exact distance it traveled, and in what time, but it was crisp and it was flat. It was a hard play and he made it with confidence. It wasn't like he was just making a hope play out there. He knew exactly what he was doing, and I was lucky enough to have my stick on the ice."
HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT: The second period was only 40-seconds old when Zdeno Chara hit Anderson and a fight ensued. Anderson, who was giving up six inches in height and nearly 30 pounds, acquitted himself solidly. Each one got in some blows before Chara ended it by taking Anderson to the ice. The crowd roared its approval for Anderson's bravado.
Following the game, Anderson explained during a postgame interview on Fox Sports Ohio how it started.
"I think stuff started in the first period there, when we were on Chara a lot, taking the body whenever we [could] because we know that he's a big part of the team," Anderson said. "So, early in the second period there, he got me pretty good from behind, and I just wanted to stick up for myself. He just said, 'Do you want it, kid?' and I said, 'Yeah, let's go.' Things started from there."
Anderson waited for a second before responding, and there was a reason for his hesitation.
"You look at him, he's almost seven feet on skates," Anderson said. "I had to think about it for a second, but once you get the gloves off, it's all adrenaline from there. I just tried to do my best."
(All times ET)
Bruins: Host the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday (7 p.m., NESN, SN, SN360, TVA Sports, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)
Blue Jackets: At the Florida Panthers on Thursday (7:30 p.m., TV: FS-O, Fox Sports Go; Radio: 97.1 The Fan, BlueJackets.com)