On a night when Seth Jones, Alexander Wennberg and Scott Hartnell were out of the lineup, the Jackets found a way to put an end to the team's six-game losing streak by beating the Maple Leafs 3-2 in Toronto.
The Jackets earned their 50th win of the year and set a new franchise record for road points (51).
After a scoreless first, the second period had all the action. The Leafs took a two-goal lead before the Jackets came roaring back with three unanswered goals in a twenty minute span. During that span, they outshot Toronto 20-9.
Matt Calvert got the Jackets on the board first at 12:32 into the second when he received a pass from Boone Jenner, put the puck on the back of his stick and shot past Curtis McElhinney to make it 2-1.
Gabriel Carlsson had the secondary assist marking the first NHL point of his career.
The score seemed to ignite the offense. Five minutes later, Josh Anderson got the puck from a falling Jake Gardiner and streaked into the offensive zone to tie the game at two a piece.
And the Jackets weren't done. After Sam Gagner was called for interference, the first shot in play came from Cam Atkinson who snapped the puck past McElhinney for the Jackets' first lead of the night; one they wouldn't relinquish the rest of the game. It was Atkinson's third short-handed score and 35th goal of the season.
Joonas Korpisalo stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced to bring his record to 7-5--1 this season.
"We didn't want to lose seven in a row or whatever it would have been," Calvert said. "We were shorthanded tonight because we sat some guys, and we didn't use that as an excuse in here. We needed a big win, we wanted to get to 50 wins, and I think you look at the season as a whole and you're pretty happy with it.
"We played Columbus Blue Jacket hockey tonight. We got a lead going into the third and did the right thing. There are a lot of positives and we can feel good about ourselves going into playoffs."
Here's what we learned.
Video: Cam Atkinson on the team getting back on track
Atkinson is a key player for the Jackets. During the team's losing streak, head coach John Tortorella had not been shy about saying that Atkinson was a player who needed to re-discover his game going into the post season. The forward had just two goals in his last 12 games.
Tonight, Atkinson had four shots on goal, tying him for the shot leader with Brandon Saad, and he played in all situations. And he added that game-winning tally when the team was on the penalty kill.
In 82 regular season games, Atkinson reached the 35-goal mark for the first time in his career, led the team in goals, short-handed goals (3), game winning goals (9) and points (35-27-52).
"He not only gets involved offensively, but I thought he concentrated on the other side of the puck," Tortorella said. "He's been brutal for the past little while. It was so important for him to feel like he contributed to the team before we get to the real stuff."
Calvert is clutch.
Calvert had one goal and one assist tonight for his first multi-point game since Apr. 6 of last year, when he had one goal and two assists in a game on the road against the Leafs.
Calvert's goal got the scoring going for the Jackets, but equally important was his play on the penalty kill with the six minutes of time the Jackets had to play short-handed against what John Tortorella called "a tough power play." The special teams' unit's ability to keep the Leafs off the scoreboard was a big part of the Jackets' play and "gave the team some juice" as they worked to find their offensive flow.
Video: Matt Calvert on Jackets' final regular season victory
"You have some arenas around the league you feel good in," Calvert said smiling. "I think when I'm in Canada it gives me a little extra boost."
On to the next season.
The "good stuff." "The reason you play the regular season." The Jackets have used a lot of phrases to refer to the playoffs, and now it's here. It's time to focus on what Tortorella calls a 60-day season, and it is something he believes will now start to be a regularly recurring thing in Columbus.
"I can't help but think about (the playoffs) already," Brandon Dubinsky said. "I've been thinking about it for a little while and I'm thinking about it while I'm talking to you. Playoff hockey is so much fun, it's what you play for. You work your ass off in the summer. You go through a two-week hell with Torts (in training camp,) and all for the opportunity to play well enough in the regular season to give yourself an opportunity to get in the playoffs. I'm excited for that opportunity, and I'm thinking about it already right now."