The Blue Jackets came into Saturday's match up against the Detroit Red Wings with a few key objectives. Most importantly win the game, but win the game through consistent play and a strong start at home.
In the wake of the team's record breaking 16-game winning streak, Columbus has struggled to find what head coach John Tortorella has called their "emotional consistency" and they'd lost more games than they'd won.
But tonight, the home team answered the starting bell.
Led by Sergei Bobrovsky's solid play in net, the Jackets seized the lead in the game off a Boone Jenner goal and didn't look back. After allowing the lone Detroit goal on the first power play of the night, the team turned away the Wings on their next two opportunities with the man advantage and Cam Atkinson sealed the deal with a second period goal to deliver the 2-1 win.
This is the first time in franchise history that the Blue Jackets have swept the season series against Detroit.
"I thought our whole team game was better," Jackets head coach John Tortorella said. "I thought we had a much better (performance) as far as how hard you have to play. Detroit is a good team, it's a fast team. We played with more intensity and the bench was more alive so that's what I'm happy about."
Video: Jenner, Atkinson lead Jackets past Red Wings, 2-1
Dubinsky's line is driving play.
Going into the All-Star break, Cam Atkinson was the name most mentioned when it came to the trio of players that makes up Brandon Dubinsky's line. But in the six games since, all three have been a major factor in on-ice play. Jenner and Atkinson scored tonight's two goals and Dubinsky assisted on both.
The highlights of what this group is doing?
Atkinson's goal tonight was his 27th of the season. That ties the career high he set last season, with 28 games left to be played this year.
In the six games since the break, the three have produced five goals and seven assists and in the three games against Detroit this year, Dubinsky (2-4-6), Atkinson (3-1-4), and Jenner (1-2-3) have combined for a total of six goals and seven assists including all five points tonight.
"I think we're closer to the puck," Dubinsky said. "Boone's playing like a beast right now. He's just running guys over. He's playing like a linebacker and when he plays that way he just creates turnovers and creates room out there. So we're able to get that cycle going and have that close support that wasn't really there for us at the start of the year. We're getting better and we're getting rewarded."
Video: Dubi on his line's production of late
The Savard Effect.
Defenseman David Savard returned to the ice tonight. Tortorella mentioned in his pre-game remarks that he hoped Savard's enthusiasm to be playing again would be a jolt to the rest of the team.
Whether it was Savard or something else, the defense looked like the group of earlier this season tonight. The six man unit also combined for a total of 12 of the 39 shots on goal led by Ryan Murray (4) and Jack Johnson (3).
Savard also came up with a few key saves late in the final minutes of the game when Detroit was seeking a tying goal and playing with six skaters.
"He's a top four defenseman for us," Tortorella said. "He has a little rust, it's going to take him a few games to get into the timing of a game, but eats up some crucial minutes so it's great to have him back in there."
Video: David Savard on returning from injury tonight
Brick Wall Bob.
It's been said many times, and it's part of the Blue Jackets' philosophy, your goaltender has to be your best player. And Sergei Bobrovsky was that tonight.
Bob stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced tonight and made key saves early and late. Of note, in the first period he stopped Tomas Tatar and Anthony Mantha when they got past the Blue Jackets defense.
And again in the third, while on the penalty kill, Bob shut down Andreas Athanasiou.
Bobrovsky came into tonight's game ranked second in the NHL in number of wins and this game showed why.
"We made a number of mistakes, and Bob bails us out in a few of them," Tortorella said. "That's where Bob is at his best is in the third when we had some breakdowns there. Just no panic."