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Labatt Blue What We Learned: CBJ 2, FLA 1

Jackets penalty kill supplies momentum, team gets big victory at Nationwide Arena

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL /

This Jackets team just keeps finding a way.

Thursday, the Jackets managed to fight back into a game against the Florida Panthers to win 2-1, and set a new franchise record for home wins.

Coming in off a 7-2 win over Toronto, the Panthers were hungry for more points and they looked like they were going to keep going offensively, when they got the first goal of the game to lead 1-0.

But the Jackets stuck with their game plan, killed off two penalties and then got to scoring goals.

Zach Werenski tied the game 15:51 into the second period when Josh Anderson banked a pass off the backboards to Werenski who was on the far side of the left circle. With Matt Calvert screening the goaltender, Werenski fired a shot that went into the top right corner of the net to make it 1-1.

3:30 later, Jack Johnson, who we later found out had been ill coming into tonight's game, lined up a shot from the middle of the blue line that Josh Anderson tipped in low to make it 2-1 and ultimately, secure the Jackets' win.

It was Anderson's fourth multi-point game this season.


Video: Torts' take on the 2-1 win tonight

In the third period, the Jackets clamped down defensively to protect their lead. Sergei Bobrovsky turned away all 12 shots he saw in the final frame, and 33 of 34 total for his sixth consecutive win.

"Do you want to draw it up that way? No," John Tortorella said. "But you live through it and I think that was very important tonight. You don't want to be down 1-0, you don't want to play some of the minutes we played tonight but when you go through that, it gives you good experience of going through that stuff.

"I think you can call this game a bit of an 'experience game' for us. That's a really desperate hockey team that came in with some confidence. That's a good game to work through and manage some indecisive play, and some really not good play, but still find a way to win."

Here's what we learned.

Video: Werenski on his important goal tonight

The penalty kill is consistent and driving momentum.

Even before the Jackets scored the tying goal, the Jackets killed two big penalties in the second period. The first penalty kill felt like it split the ice time between the Jackets and the Panthers even with the home team being a man down, and the Jackets held the Panthers to just one shot on goal in their second power play chance.

It helped moved the momentum needle in the Jackets' favor.

"That's the first thing I said in between the second and third period," Tortorella said. "Those are two great kills. We go down two nothing, I'm not sure where (the game) goes. (The penalty kill) was a huge part of the game. Our penalty kill is becoming cohesive. We're becoming more consistent. And Bob has made some key saves at key times on that as well."

Video: Bob looks forward toward the playoffs 

This team can win even if they don't always have the lead.

The Jackets have won 45 games this year, and in 22 of those, they've scored first. On the other side of the coin, this team came into Thursday's game 8-18-5 when their opponent scored first.

Tonight, the Jackets stuck to their game, didn't panic and found a way to keep clawing away to get the tie, and then the lead. Once they had that, they never gave it up.

"I think we expect to win," Tortorella said. "But when there's momentum swings in the game, and it's not going your way, we have to watch ourselves and say 'ok, let's just get through it, let's not panic or say what is going on here.' I'm the first one that has to watch myself.

"We've had the lead a lot this year so we've got to be able to handle these situations. I think at this time of year, where we're at, hopefully what we're going to go through there, later on, these games will help us."

Video: Calvert on his line having success together

What records did this game set?

With the win, this year's Jackets team added a few more records to the franchise history books. The group set a new high for home wins (26) breaking the record set by the 2008-09 squad, and also tied the record for most home points (53) set in 2008-09. We know this team isn't about breaking records as the end goal, but that doesn't mean it can't bear notice.

"It's unbelievable," Matt Calvert said. "There's been some tough seasons here. This is my 7th year. It's refreshing to win some hockey games. These fans have stuck with us the whole time. They were always loyal to us even when we were last in the league at one point. To be able to give back to them, I think that's the best part of it."

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