There were quite a few things the Blue Jackets, now 36-15-5, could say they addressed in Wednesday's 5-2 win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. The team had a good start at home. The power play scored a goal and the penalty kill unit held Toronto scoreless.
Additionally, solid goaltending from Joonas Korpisalo, who stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced, gave the team the backbone they needed in net.
"(Toronto is) a fast, skilled team," head coach John Tortorella said. "I thought we played a good game but Korpisalo was a big part of it early on. We got some really good goaltending first period. I thought we checked better as the game went on but Korpisalo certainly gave us a chance in that first ten minutes."
The Blue Jackets took the first lead of the game off a Josh Anderson score and never looked back. It was the 35th game this year they've earned the first goal. After that, the home team went up 4-0 off follow up scores from Boone Jenner, Oliver Bjorkstrand and, of note, that power play score by Nick Foligno. It was the first power play goal since Jan. 7.
Toronto attempted to creep back into the game off two Nazim Kadri goals, but it wasn't enough, and in the final 2:30, Matt Calvert added an empty netter to seal the deal for Columbus.
Here's what we learned.
Video: Oliver Bjorkstrand on his first NHL goal this season
Bjorkstrand is seizing opportunity.
Tortorella said that if Bjorkstrand was going to rejoin the Blue Jackets, he was going to be put in a position to play to his strengths. That meant that Wednesday, Bjorkstrand played on a line with Brandon Saad centered by Alexander Wennberg. The three combined for the third goal of the night.
Bjorkstrand also saw just over two minutes of power play time and was tied for second on the team for most shot attempts (5).
"Bjorkstrand stuck out to me in the first period," Tortorella said. "And through his game I thought he checked well. Part of the maturation of a young guy is how you play away from the puck. I thought he really showed a concentration there and you can see his skill. He's a skilled guy and the puck follows him. He played a good game. It's something we have to look at when we get our lineup ready for the next game."
Video: Werenski on the CBJ power play coming to life tonight
Everyone can contribute.
With Bjorkstrand's arrival to the team due to Scott Hartnell's injury, Tortorella challenged himself to juggle lines that have remained mostly in tact throughout the season. In addition to Bjorkstrand's role with Wennberg and Saad, Foligno moved to William Karlsson's line and Matt Calvert slotted in with Lukas Sedlak and Sam Gagner.
The result was positive. 11 different players got on the score sheet; Anderson's goal was his first in 15 games; Foligno surpassed 20 goals in a season for the second time in his career; and Brandon Saad became the fourth Jacket to surpass 40 points this year. Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and Alexander Wennberg each had two points.
"I thought the lines had more balance tonight right on through," Tortorella said. "Especially against Toronto who has three lines that you really can't figure out who you're going to match against. I thought our balance helped us there. Every line contributed. We'll see how it goes, I do think the lines had gotten stale a little bit. I like what they looked like tonight."
Video: Wennberg on having Bjorkstrand on his line
This team is finding what they are playing for.
After the 16-game winning streak, the Jackets have struggled with stringing together wins and finding the necessary emotional commitment game after game. After Wednesday's win, everyone agreed that the team is "recommitting" to playing the right way in the grinding days of February.
"It's hard after that 16-game win streak," Werenski said. "During the streak it was like we were playing for something almost and it's not like we're not playing for something after, but you have to intentionally think about it again and I think right now we've found out what we're playing for. We've found out the Metro Division's really tight right now and the race is tight. We want these points we want to finish as high as we can."