Jackets head coach John Tortorella wanted his team, a group of players that had put together a 50-win, 108 point season, to experience what it was like to win a playoff game and to play the post-game victory song in the locker room.
Tonight, the Jackets did just that.
Down 3-0 in the opening playoff series to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Blue Jackets battled through Game Four and won 5-4 to force Game Five.
The Jackets raced out to a three-goal lead starting with Jack Johnson's first score of the post-season when his shot bounced off Sidney Crosby's skate and past Marc-Andre Fleury for the 1-0 lead.
Josh Anderson added a second goal in the opening period when he powered into the zone and shot from the bottom of the right circle to beat Fleury five hole to make the first period score 2-0.
The Jackets wanted to have a strong second period, and it started well enough. Five minutes in, Markus Nutivaara capitalized on the second rebound given up by Fleury and scored his first career post-season goal in his first Stanley Cup playoff game for the 3-0 Jackets lead.
But as the Penguins have done this series, they found a way to flip a switch and mount a surge of their own. Pittsburgh added two scores, including one on the power play, to close out the first 40 minutes with a 3-2 score.
During the second intermission, Tortorella reminded his team they got through the pushes Pittsburgh mounted against them and said it was time to get the momentum back on the Jackets' side.
William Karlsson answered that call 27 seconds into the third to make it 4-2. While three more goals were scored in the period, the Jackets never surrendered the lead. The Penguins drew back within one but the Jackets answered again with a Boone Jenner tally that gave them a two-goal lead that was enough cushion to sustain a late Jake Guentzel goal with less than 30 seconds left.
Video: Torts' take on the Game 4 win
"I thought the most important part was that we bent a little bit, but then we end up scoring," Tortorella said. "(The Penguins) would get closer, and then we end up with a shift where we score a goal. Our forecheck and our puck possession were better. We struggled a bit at times after the second goal, they really turned it up, but we answered."
Here's what we learned.
Big night for Calvert-Karlsson-Anderson.
With Matt Calvert back in the lineup, he was reunited with linemates William Karlsson and Josh Anderson. The three had a big night offensively. Anderson and Karlsson each scored goals with Karlsson adding an assist. Calvert provided the lone assist on Karlsson's tally.
But that wasn't their only area of impact. Tortorella matched the line against Sidney Crosby's line, which has generated five goals in three games against the Jackets. Karlsson said he knew going into the game that his line wasn't going to be able to take a shift off.
Video: Bill on playing one game at a time
Tonight, Jake Guentzel provided that line's only goal and only point. And Sidney Crosby was held without a single shot attempt.
"They did a great job," Jenner said. "All night from the first penalty kill, throughout the game, they were just skating. In the third period they were on the ice so fast. They did a great job checking and they're all smart players. They even chipped in with some goals."
Defensive depth stepping up.
With the loss of Zach Werenski for the remainder of the post-season, veteran Kyle Quincey and rookie Markus Nutivaara were back in the lineup and each were noticeable for all the right reasons.
Nutivaara had a two-point night, scoring the third goal and providing the secondary assist on Jenner's game winner. He also had the highest five-on-five shot attempt differential of all Jackets' players at plus-16. Quincey had the secondary assist on Karlsson's score, played 1:36 on the penalty kill, and had three shot attempts of his own.
Video: Nutivaara on scoring in his first career playoff game
"They sparked us," Tortorella said. "Quincey came in immediately and was a physical presence. Nutivaara probably played one of his better games for us. He played to his strengths, getting the puck out and moving the puck up the ice. And he scores a goal. Those are two guys who haven't been playing a lot of late, stepped in (and played well)."
Manage the series. One game at a time.
Tortorella wanted his team to experience a playoff victory. They got one, and, as the saying goes, once the away team wins a game, it becomes a series. The Jackets will head to Pittsburgh with work to do, but with the same approach they've had all season - one game at a time.
"I wasn't even thinking about the series tonight," Tortorella said. "I was thinking about the players who have put in a lot of time, who have gone through a transformation here to play as a team. To have a regular season like they had and not get to enjoy what it is to win a playoff game? I think that's part of the process for us and I want them to enjoy that. So now we get a game. Sure, we're still in a pretty big hole but we just have to take it one game at a time and try to manage the series that way."