“There are no pictures on a scorecard” is one of golf’s more popular one-liners.
It’s also quite applicable to tonight’s Blue Jackets victory in New Jersey, which was certainly not a Picasso – and head coach John Tortorella’s post-game comments were indicative of his thoughts on the game.
Yes, it’s a 2-1 win in a divisional game against an opponent that has been playing well of late, but the Blue Jackets have their penalty killing and goaltender to thank after squeaking out two points.
“It was a team effort of sloppiness. We’re lucky we won,” Tortorella said, bluntly.
While it’s safe to say there was plenty to be unhappy with, there were also encouraging signs; after all, it’s a regulation win within the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division. Let’s not understate that.
Perhaps part of the frustration for Tortorella is the Blue Jackets’ upcoming schedule. After tonight’s game and the one-day Thanksgiving break, they face the Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues on back-to-back nights this weekend.
But removing the frustration, there were likable parts of the game that helped the Jackets get a lead, protect it, fight through some adversity (a gargantuan push from the Devils) and score a big goal late in the second period that proved to be the winner.
William Karlsson got things started for Columbus in the first period, joining Nick Foligno on a 2-on-2 rush and making his way toward the New Jersey net. Karlsson settled the pass from Foligno, was denied on the first try, but banked in his own rebound to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead.
Adam Henrique tied the game for New Jersey in the second period after a lengthy stretch of pressure from the home team. At one point in the middle frame, the Devils were dominant and the Blue Jackets could only hang on, get in shooting lanes and hope to get a whistle.
They pushed back, finally, in the latter stages of the second. Four or five chances – including a point-blank look on the door step for Cam Atkinson – were turned away by Cory Schneider, but Matt Calvert got his stick free at the back post to nudge a loose puck over the goal line with 1:24 left in the period.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who finished with 27 saves, came up big in the third with 10 saves as the Devils turned the pressure up once again. The Blue Jackets benefited from a disallowed goal (which was the proper call) midway through the third; a delayed penalty goal by Henrique was washed out after a conference among the two referees and linesmen.
It was determined that Gregory Campbell played the puck before the goal, nullifying the play and keeping the minor penalty (which was eventually killed off) on the board.
“Too many of these games we’ve given away already this year,” said Brandon Dubinsky, who returned after missing six games. “We need to be responsible when we have a lead in the third period, especially against a good hockey team like the Devils. I like the way our guys stayed in there.”