“We were sound asleep,” John Tortorella said of his team’s first period today.
It was dozy, to say the least, with the Blue Jackets plodding along and registering only one shot on goal in the first 20 minutes. They trailed 1-0, registered just a single shot on goal, and could have been in a more significant hole if not for the play of their rookie goaltender.
And after the Florida lead swelled to 2-0 midway through the second period, the Blue Jackets awakened.
They rallied from that two-goal deficit and then took a lead in the third period before the Panthers forced overtime with a late goal of their own. Joonas Korpisalo was a perfect 3-for-3 in the shootout, locking up the extra point and a 4-3 Columbus win at Nationwide Arena.
“Everyone in here knows how we can play, and we didn’t play anywhere close to how we can play in that first period,” said defenseman Seth Jones, who scored his first Blue Jackets goal in the third period. “We all knew that. It was a matter of a will to win; we knew that we had it in us, we just had to play the right way.”
Scott Hartnell’s 20th goal of the season was an important one in this game, getting the Blue Jackets back within a goal after Vincent Trocheck made it 2-0 for the Panthers at 10:28 of the second period.
Hartnell, the recipient of a beautiful pass from Alexander Wennberg, patiently out-waited Roberto Luongo and buried a key goal, giving Columbus an answer only 36 seconds after the Trocheck goal.
“It's just one hell of a play by Wennberg,” Tortorella said.
Tortorella also gave credit to video assistant coach Dan Singleton, who spotted an offside play on Florida's first second goal (yes, they made it 2-0 twice). After review, the goal was washed out and it kept the deficit manageable after 20 minutes.
Jones’ first goal in the Columbus sweater came at 3:07 of the third period and in the dying seconds of a power play, and while it wasn’t the most artistic of goals, it gave the Blue Jackets a big lift.
Brandon Dubinsky teed up Jones for a one-timer and Jones didn’t catch all of it, sending a floater toward Luongo that the goaltender never got a grip on.
At 7:21, Saad’s new career-best 24th goal gave the Blue Jackets their first lead, but a Logan Shaw power play goal brought Florida all square at 3-3 with 5:42 to go.
Dubinsky’s goal was the only one in the shootout, and only after he briefly lost the puck did he gather it and beat Luongo high to the glove side for the deciding tally.
“They won all the battles, they were faster than we were,” Dubinsky said of the Blue Jackets’ start. “We talked about getting back to our game, getting physical, and the game turned around a little bit for us.”