Giving up a goal within minutes or seconds of scoring one themselves has been a reccurring issue for the Blue Jackets during the 2015-16 campaign.
These “response goals” are often the catalyst for momentum shifts during games, and the Columbus hockey club has suffered from them on more than one occasion.
But last night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers at Nationwide Arena was different: the Blue Jackets’ timely responses were the key to their 6-3 win.
“It’s always good to get the result because you’ve gained confidence,” Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said after the game. “But it was a strange one, three times coming right back and if you go through that experience, you can rely on that again.”
The three response goals Tortorella alluded to came from three different players — Fedor Tyutin, Scott Hartnell and David Savard — during three crucial moments in the game.
After two early first-period goals from Cam Atkinson (1:54) and Savard (2:44), Leon Draisaitl broke through and beat Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo at 4:35 of the second period, cutting the Columbus lead in half.
But a mere 10 seconds later, Tyutin tallied his first goal of the season at 4:45 of the frame, and it was a huge goal for the home team.
“Throughout the game, at times I think we might have let up, but they scored the next shift and our response was huge for us,” Boone Jenner said. “It was a big part of our game was when they scored a shift, the next shift or the shift after, we put one in. We did that three times and that was the difference in the game.”
Building on that momentum, Jenner tipped in a Ryan Murray slap-pass on the power play to put the Blue Jackets ahead 4-1 in the second period. But Edmonton’s Taylor Hall scored a power play goal of his own, pulling the visitors within two goals with one minute left in the second period.
It could easily have been a 4-2 game after two periods (which would've been a big boost for the Oilers), but the Blue Jackets answered once again.
With the help of linemate and playmaker-extraordinaire Alexander Wennberg, Hartnell notched his 21st goal of the season just 43 seconds after Hall scored to restore a three-goal Blue Jackets lead.
“(Response goals) was the theme against us the first half of the year,” Hartnell said. “Every time we get some momentum, that next shift it would be right in our net. So it’s nice to change that, take away their momentum, and keep that 2-to-3 goal lead that we had.”
The third (and final) quick answer by the Blue Jackets came 35 seconds after Connor McDavid's goal at 3:22 of the third period. Thanks to a great pass from William Karlsson, Savard walked in and scored his second of the game to make it 6-3 Columbus, and giving Savard the first multi-goal game of his NHL career.
“I think everybody obviously played well and every time we had a breakdown, guys were coming back and having a strong shift,” Savard said. “I think everybody was in tonight. There were no passengers. I think everybody was doing the right things.”
In an at-times sloppy game, the Blue Jackets got important momentum changers as well as points from 14 different players — tying a club record (Nov. 10, 2010 and Feb. 11, 2013).
“I was on the edge of the bench the whole night, because I think that game could’ve changed in a second,” Tortorella said. “I thought Korpi made some really big saves at key times and they have people, when they get a chance, they can score. I was worried through that whole game as far as where the momentum was going to go."