Jackets head coach John Tortorella said it's not till the regular season starts that you find out what your team really is. Tonight, in a 5-0 win over the New York Islanders, one of the youngest team in the NHL showed that the kids are alright.
Led by goals from Sonny Milano, Cam Atkinson, Ryan Murray, Zach Werenski, Pierre-Luc Dubois and three assists by Artemi Panarin, the Jackets made a statement in their first game of the 2017-18 season.
67 seconds into the game, Milano scored the first goal of the Blue Jackets' season and the first goal of his NHL career. It came when Nick Foligno intercepted a clearing attempt by Islanders goaltender, Thomas Greiss. Foligno passed the puck along the back boards to Oliver Bjorkstrand who sent a pass from behind the net to Milano who banged the puck home.
After swift back and forth play, the Jackets capitalized again. Artemi Panarin notched his first point as a Blue Jacket when he jumped on a New York outlet pass, skated into the zone and threaded the puck across the slot to a waiting Atkinson. From the right side of the net, Atkinson tapped in the puck to make it 2-0 with 8:58 to play in the opening period.
The Jackets didn't stop there. 6:57 into the second period, on a delayed penalty, Panarin got the puck from Alexander Wennberg and passed from behind the net to Murray who was set up low in the left circle. The defenseman fired on an angle to pinball the puck behind Greiss and make it 3-0, Jackets.
A second penalty resulted in the game's first power play, the fourth Jackets goal, and another Panarin assist. Panarin fed Wennberg whose shot on goal rebounded to Werenski high in the slot. With no hesitation, the 2017 Calder Trophy finalist one-timed the puck into the net.
1:25 later, with both teams at even strength, Dubois jumped on a loose puck and fired from high between the circles to make it 5-0 and end Greiss' night in the Islanders' net.
That score would stand as Jackets held serve in the third period. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky who had a perfect outing in net stopping all 29 shots that he faced.
Now 1-0-0, the Jackets head to Chicago where they will face the Blackhawks in their first back-to-back of the season. Puck drops at 8:30 p.m. ET.
By the numbers:
4: Cam Atkinson has scored a goal in four consecutive season openers for the Blue Jackets. Atkinson has also scored a goal in the last seven games against the New York Islanders dating back to Feb. 9, 2016.
3: Artemi Panarin made his mark in his regular season debut. He had three assists the most assists and most total points by any player in their first game as a Blue Jacket.
2: Two Blue Jackets had multi-point games. In addition to Panarin (0-3-3), Alexander Wennberg had two assists of his own (0-2-2).
1: Sonny Milano's goal wasn't just his first in the NHL, it came against the same team Milano faced in his first NHL game, the New York Islanders (Mar. 31, 2016).
0: The number of goals allowed by two-time Vezina winner, Sergei Bobrovsky, marking his first shutout of the season.
"What They Said."
John Tortorella on Artemi Panarin: "What surprised me the most - he's known for his scoring - but I didn't realize how much work he puts into the other part of it.
"I thought it would be a little bit of a learning curve in what we want out of him in that part of the game. But from day one he's been involved, he's asked questions, we haven't had to go to him, he came to us.
"He had a couple of great backchecks tonight. His personality is infectious."
"His electric style elevates everything around him."
Sonny Milano on scoring against his childhood team: "It's a good feeling scoring against the team I grew up watching, it's a good feeling to put one in against them."
Sergei Bobrovsky on being ready for the regular season: "I felt pretty good. It's just one game, and it's a long season, so the process is still going on. It's just the beginning, but we got this win. We will definitely enjoy it and tomorrow is another day. We have to come back and get to business."
Artemi Panarin on hearing the Cannon (through a translator): "He got lucky he was able to get used to it in a few preseason games. When he used to come here with Chicago he wasn't ready for it."