Fast start? Check.
Energy flowing in the home barn? Check.
Perhaps it went a little too well too early for the Blue Jackets, who took a 2-0 lead 5:13 into the game but had to hang on just to keep the game tied up through two periods. They had all the momentum to start, survived a shaky second period, and then scored three times in the third period to erase an 0-fer at home with a 5-2 win over Arizona at Nationwide Arena.
For a variety of reasons, this one felt really good.
“We said it on the bench – this game was everything like Tuesday’s (loss to Vancouver),” captain Nick Foligno said. “We wanted to make this a different outcome. A lot of guys, in different roles, stepped up tonight to help us get the job done, and that’s what we need. You hate learning from those experiences because you want to win, but you can see that we’re growing and we weren’t going to make the same mistake twice.
“There are so many guys in here that want to make a difference for this team and you saw that tonight.”
Let’s start with William Karlsson, who’s been bitten by a family of snakes early in the season despite a smorgasbord of opportunities. He wasted little time getting things going tonight, burying a beautiful pass from Scott Hartnell only 99 seconds into the game, giving Columbus a 1-0 lead.
At 5:13, Ryan Johansen pounced on a rebound that initially clanged off the goal post, scoring a power play goal to make it 2-0, snapping a 13-game goalless drought. The feeling was positive, the building was alive, and the Blue Jackets seemed to be on the road to a home-ice win.
But a few minutes later, a turnover at the offensive blueline sent the Coyotes flying the other way, with flashy youngster Anthony Duclair scoring on a 2-on-1 rush at 12:09 of the first, cutting the Blue Jackets’ lead to a single goal.
WATCH: JOHN TORTORELLA POST GAME PRESS CONFERENCE
Then the second period happened. The stubborn Coyotes didn’t relent, at times hemming Columbus inside its own end and making some heavy legs on the home side a little more weighty, eventually tying the game on a rebound 5:49 into the middle frame. Yes, there was some bending, but the Blue Jackets got a lift from some physical fireworks late in the period.
After Boone Jenner tipped a Johansen shot into the net at 16:49 to make it 3-2 for Columbus, there was a melee in the closing moments of the second. Coyotes captain Shane Doan was ejected, Jenner got a 10-minute misconduct, there were roughing penalties, gloves dropped, words exchanged, the whole lot of it.
It turned out to be the perfect remedy to awaken the Blue Jackets from a sleepy second period.
Karlsson scored his second goal of the game midway through the third period and it was a huge goal for Columbus. He went right to the net to follow up a Cam Atkinson shot, was denied on the first attempt, but tucked the rebound behind Mike Smith for a 4-2 lead at 10:42.
The final dagger was a beauty. Jenner led Brandon Saad with a chip pass in the neutral zone, starting a 2-on-1 with Johansen. Saad kept it and lasered a wicked shot over Smith’s glove to give the Blue Jackets some breathing room with 4:42 left.
Sergei Bobrovsky, making his second straight start, was solid in goal. He made 27 saves and helped the Blue Jackets to another perfect night (5-for-5) on the penalty kill.
“I think you need to win games differently,” coach John Tortorella said. “Bob certainly gave us a chance while we were flat. In the third period, we were much better. It’s the way we want to play: physical, simple, and I think we got back to that (in the third period). I’m really happy that we gathered ourselves and found a way to win.”