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Labatt Blue What We Learned: CBJ 4, NYI 1

Blue Jackets came into Barclays Center and dominated

by Brian Hedger JacketsInsider /

BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Speaking with reporters Tuesday, upon arriving to Barclays Center, Nick Foligno was nearly prophetic.

Going into a game against the New York Islanders, the Blue Jackets' captain called for even more shots on goal for Columbus, which had outshot its previous four opponents by a combined margin of 175-115 - including 50-35 in a 6-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.

"It gives you a singular focus, and I think that's what we need to get to, as a team, always," Foligno said. "I don't think it has to stop now that we've won a game. It's got to continue, if not more. Let's throw 60 shots on net and see what happens."

They didn't get 60 against the Islanders, but had 26 in the first period again and finished with a season-high 51 in a 4-1 win to keep pace with both teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference wild-card spots.

It's the first time in franchise history the Blue Jackets have topped 50 shots in consecutive games, outshooting the Devils and Islanders by a combined margin of 101-65.

"We talked about it before the game," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "We're trying to establish our forecheck by shooting the puck. It's hard for a team to defend when they're looking at someone taking a shot, and then they have to look behind them, turn around and try to find the puck when we're attacking going downhill."

Oliver Bjorkstrand and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored power-play goals, while Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson scored goals 43 seconds apart early in the third period for the Blue Jackets (29-23-40).

Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves for Columbus, including two huge stops right out of the gate in the third to preserve a 2-1 lead.

The Jackets' shot count was a franchise record for a game that ended in regulation, and the 26 they put on net in the first period matched the franchise for shots in one period they set at Barclays Center on Feb. 3, just 10 days earlier against the Islanders.

Just like that game, Columbus scored late in the second period to gain a one-goal lead and then faced a strong New York push to start the third.

Unlike the prior meeting, it was the Blue Jackets who scored two goals early in the third, by Dubinsky and Atkinson, using them to earn a big win between teams that entered the game tied with 60 points, sitting just outside a playoff spot.

"It did [feel similar], except for the third period," Dubinsky said. "They made a push in the first four or five minutes, but good teams accept those pushes and momentum swings, and find a way to get it back."

The win gave Columbus its first consecutive wins since Jan. 7-8 and first consecutive wins in regulation since Dec. 8-9. The Blue

John Tavares scored a goal for his 600th point in the NHL for the Islanders, while Jaroslav Halak made 47 saves.

Here's what we learned:


The victory pushes the Blue Jackets to 62 points, but they remain a point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the Eastern Conference's second wild card and two points behind the New Jersey Devils for the top wild-card spot.

Carolina defeated the Los Angeles Kings 7-3 to retain its playoff spot, while the Devils held their spot by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in a shootout.

"It's huge," Werenski said. "You look at the metro, and where everyone is, everyone's within a few points of that last playoff spot. So, to come out here and get two points against a Metro team is really big."


The Blue Jackets have outshot their past six opponents, but they haven't just outshot them in the past five.

They've buried the other team under a mountain of shots on goal and shot attempts, controlling the puck for long stretches in the offensive zone and firing shot after shot - from all angles and all areas of the ice.

In the past five games, they hold a whopping 226-145 advantage in shots, which works out to an average of 45.2 to 29 per game. The Blue Jackets, according to Elias Sports, are also just the fourth team in the last 46 years to record 50-plus shots in consecutive games, last done by the San Jose Sharks in 2010.

"It wasn't too long ago when we were losing hockey games, and you'd look at the shot [count] and we were in the teens," Dubinsky said. "It's just tough. Goalies are too good in this league. They've got to see a lot of rubber, and you've got to get rebounds and try to get some greasy goals. If you can put 51 shots on them, I like the chances with the group of offensive players we have in this room."


Prior to playing the Islanders on Feb. 3, the Blue Jackets had never put 26 shots on goal in one period.

After outshooting New York, 26-11, in the first on Tuesday, they've now done it twice in less than two weeks. The Islanders won the first game, 4-3, after scoring twice in the first five minutes of the third.

New York also scored a power-play goal late in the first period of the previous game, which the Islanders did again Tuesday night, taking a 1-0 lead on Tavares' goal.

Foligno and Atkinson gave Columbus a 3-2 lead in the prior game, scoring late in the second for a 3-2 lead starting the third, and once again the Blue Jackets took a one-goal lead into the third on a late goal in the second.

This time, it was scored by Dubois on a power play with 57 seconds left in the period.

New York came out firing shots again, like the last game, but this time it was the Blue Jackets who scored two quick goals early. Dubinsky banged home his fifth goal of the season to make it 3-1 at 6:01 and Atkinson scored 43 seconds later to make it 4-1, scoring off a feed from Artemi Panarin.

"As we said on the bench, 'Just keep it calm, go out there, have one good shift,'" Dubinsky said. "I don't know which line did it. Might've been [Lukas Sedlak's] line. They went out there and created some turnovers, got some offensive-zone pressure and it sort of rolled back over from there again in the next 10 minutes."

Video: CBJ@NYI: Dubinsky pots own rebound in front 


Bobrovsky made sure there wouldn't be a repeat of the previous game against the Islanders.

The Blue Jackets' goalie came up with a couple of huge saves in the first few minutes of the third to preserve a 2-1 lead, including one against Anthony Beauvillier, who was open in the low slot 1:14 into the period and fired a low wrister that Bobrovsky soaked up.

Bobrovsky then made another dandy stop to deny high-scoring Islanders rookie Mathew Barzal at 3:53, turning away a wrist shot from 12 feet away.

Those stops bought time for the Blue Jackets to extend their lead on the goals by Dubinsky and Atkinson about three minutes later.

"I thought we did a lot good defensively, in front of 'Bob', and then when there were breakdowns, [he] was there to bail us out," Werenski said. "It's what he always does. Since I've been here, 'Bob's' always been there to bail us out. He keeps us in games, and when we need a big save from him, he's always there to make it. It was huge on his part, and I think we did well in front of him, as well."

Video: CBJ@NYI: Bobrovsky denies Eberle on breakaway


Dubois' goal extended his goal streak to a career-high three straight games, after scoring against the Washington Capitals on Friday and New Jersey Devils on Saturday - both with his dad, Eric Dubois, watching live in the arenas.

The elder Dubois, an assistant coach with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League, rejoined his own team Sunday in Cleveland. Regardless, the younger Dubois stayed hot, scoring his 13th goal of the season.

"Talking to a lot of the veteran guys, that's what they say, 'That the NHL, sometimes you're on fire and sometimes you're cold for a while,'" Dubois said. "Recently, I had a little dip in form, [but] I was getting scoring chances. When you get scoring chances, you know you're on the right track to getting back to scoring goals and helping your team offensively."

This one happened after the Blue Jackets had just rung a shot off the crossbar during a late power play in the second period, created when New York's Nick Leddy was called for delay-of-the-game.

Dubois got the puck in the left-wing circle and fired a wrist shot that beat Halak to the short side, past Josh Anderson's screen in front of the goalie.

Video: CBJ@NYI: Dubois rings home PPG from tough angle


The Blue Jackets' power play had fallen back into a slump the past couple weeks, going 2-for-15 (13.3 percent) in the previous five games. They made up for it in the second period, with the goals from Bjorkstrand and Dubois to go 2-for-4 for the game.

It was their first multi-goal performance on the power play since Jan. 7 in a 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers (13 games) and their third of the season. It was Bjorkstrand's second goal in as many games, and the first by the second power-play unit in a while.

"It felt good," Bjorkstrand said. "It's nice to score again, especially on the second unit. I felt like we handled the puck well, stayed calm and got our shots, [had] good screens and stuff like that. It was nice to get that tonight."

Video: CBJ@NYI: Atkinson roofs Panarin's great dish 


The Islanders made it a point to seek out Werenksi and finish their checks on him, likely because the second-year Blue Jackets' defensemen is playing through some discomfort from a nagging upper-body injury.

Werenski not only stood up for himself physically, getting into some post-whistle pushing and shoving, but also made them pay on the scoreboard. He had a career-high three assists, including primary assists on the Blue Jackets' power-play goals and a secondary helper on Atkinson's goal in the third.

After going without a point in his previous six games, he became the first Blue Jackets defenseman to record three-assists in a game since James Wisniewski did it Nov. 8, 2014.

"I think, as of late, my game's starting to come around again on the offensive side," Werenski said. "I haven't really had anything to show for it, so to come out here and get two points as a team and be a contributor to that, it feels good."

Werenski has 11 goals, one shy of tying the frachise record for a defenseman in one season, but hasn't scored since Dec. 29 in Ottawa (17 games). He's trying not to think about it, concentrating instead of producing in other ways offensively.

"Last year, I scored as many goals as I have right now," he said. "I was pretty hot in the beginning of the year at scoring goals, and kind of cooled off a bit, but I'm trying to get back to an offensive style. I took a little pride in the defensive zone, trying to learn that, and it kind of took away from my offense - which it shouldn't. But I think I'm starting to balance the two out right now."

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