One of the core aspects of the Blue Jackets’ identity - particularly last season - was their refusal to give in and bend, but not break.
Safe to say that aspect remains firmly intact after tonight’s thrilling victory at SAP Center in San Jose.
BLUE JACKETS 5 | SHARKS 4
Down 2-0 after one period and out-played in several respects, the Blue Jackets roared back in the second period (as we’ve seen them do twice already this season) and not only tied the game, but scored three times in 5:14 to take a 3-2 lead into the dressing room after 40 minutes. The stunning reversal gave the visitors, who entered tonight’s game 4-17-2 all-time in San Jose, all the momentum after the Sharks had control in the opening period.
Ryan Johansen scored the Jackets’ first goal and third goal, and Mark Letestu scored the 2-2 goal and also the game-winning goal with 20.7 to play on a deflection in front of the net. On the shift before Letestu’s game winner, Johansen had a potential hat trick goal (which would have been his first in the NHL) disallowed due to incidental contact with Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi.
The Blue Jackets were not going to be denied.
Inside the final minute of regulation, the Jackets stormed into the San Jose zone and Nick Foligno - who tied the game in the third period with a power play goal - won a battle along the boards and got the puck back to the right point.
David Savard sent a shot through traffic that was deflected twice en route, but Letestu got the final touch to beat Niemi for the game-deciding tally. It was, to say the least, a huge goal for the Blue Jackets who could have been content to just pick up a point and go to overtime after the controversial call didn't go their way.
“This has been our calling card for almost two years now,” Letestu said. “This team never quits.”
Sergei Bobrovsky yielded two goals in the first period but was solid the rest of the way, and really gave his team a chance to come back and win this game. He finished with 33 saves to pick up his fourth win of the season.
The Blue Jackets desperately needed a spark after a sluggish first period and their three-goal burst in the second period turned the game around. All they needed was one, and Johansen provided the jump-start and they kept rolling from there. They were a completely different team in the final 40 minutes and they stayed on the attack right down the wire, and that mentality played a huge role in the outcome.
1 - Johansen (CBJ): Two goals, giving him five on the season in only six games, and another high-impact performance from the Jackets’ No. 1 center.
2 - Pavelski (SJS): Pavelski scored twice including a key tying goal early in the third period.
3 - Letestu (CBJ): He scored the two biggest goals of the game - including a sweet finish shorthanded - and played 15:27 in all situations.
at Anaheim Ducks
Friday, 10 p.m. ET