The end of Monday’s game in New York did not sit well with the Blue Jackets or their head coach.
With their next opportunity three days away, they wanted to make sure they made amends with a solid effort on home ice against the Edmonton Oilers – and they did just that.
Cam Atkinson and David Savard scored goals in the first 2:44 of the game, Fedor Tyutin, Scott Hartnell and then Savard provided crucial response goals, and the Blue Jackets cruised to a 6-3 win at Nationwide Arena in a game that was hardly a Picasso, but it goes on the fridge nonetheless.
And without those quick answers, the outcome is far less certain.
“We’d probably still be playing,” coach John Tortorella said. “I thought it was a sloppy game. Those are big answers for us…(Edmonton) is a dangerous team with the skill they have and the speed they have. It was important that we came back and answered, or else it might have been a different result.”
A three-day layoff was a point of concern for Tortorella before tonight’s game, especially knowing the Oilers played the night before and there may be some rust for Columbus. He relayed that to his team prior to the game, but captain Nick Foligno stood up in front of the room and eased his coach’s concerns.
“Nick said, ‘don’t worry about it Torts, we got it,’” Scott Hartnell said.
“He was right,” Tortorella said of Foligno. “That’s good. I’m glad they came through. You want that type of communication as you go through and learn one another.”
The two-goal effort for Savard was the first multi-goal game of his career, and both were wonderful finishes. Brandon Saad (who left the game with an upper body injury and did not return) set up Savard’s first goal, a wicked shot over the glove of Oilers goaltender Laurent Brossoit that cemented an authoritative start for the Blue Jackets.
Tyutin’s first goal of the season came 10 seconds after Leon Draisaitl got the Oilers on the board (his first goal in 66 games), and after Taylor Hall pulled Edmonton within 4-2 at 19:00 of the second period, Scott Hartnell buried a perfect pass from Alexander Wennberg to restore a three-goal lead headed into the second intermission only 43 seconds later.
“It was kind of a barn burner, but those responses were huge for us,” defenseman Ryan Murray said. “We have to play the same way no matter what, and for the most part, we’re doing that. We’re getting better as far as situational play and making good decisions and I think we’re growing.”
To cap it off, Savard’s second goal answered a Connor McDavid goal at 3:22 of the third period, putting the Blue Jackets back on top by three goals 35 seconds later.
The “response goals” have been an Achilles heel for the Blue Jackets this season, but at least for one night, the shoe was on the other foot and their timely answers helped them pull away and win the game.
“It’s always good to get the result,” Tortorella said. “I was on the edge of the bench the whole night because that game could have changed in a second. I was worried the whole game about where the momentum was going to go, so to answer those was really important.”