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Postgame Hat Trick: An offensive explosion vs. Boston

Columbus figures out the scoring puzzle in crucial victory

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

There were no appearances by Duran Duran or Don Johnson-styled white jackets in the crowd, but it could safely be said it felt like '80s Night at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday. 

A wild back-and-forth game with 11 goals? Check. A star player dropping the gloves and taking swings in a good old-fashioned donnybrook? Check. A high-flying defenseman, a la Paul Coffey, striking the decisive blow? Check. 

In the end, it was a 7-4 victory for the Blue Jackets over the Bruins, a game as out of character as Gilbert Gottfried doing Shakespeare. One night after Columbus couldn't buy a goal, the Jackets potted seven against the second-best defensive team in the NHL. 

Video: Condensed Game: Bruins @ Blue Jackets

Wrapping up all that happened seems impossible, but let's give it a go. 

Here are three observations from the victory that kept Columbus in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 12 games to play. 

1. A goal explosion: Before the game, the Blue Jackets talked of just sticking with it. If the team played like it did the previous night against the Islanders, good things would happen. 

"I think we're the better team last night," head coach John Tortorella said of the Islanders game. "I thought their goaltender was outstanding in key times in that game. So don't get frustrated. Our meeting before the (Boston) game here, I said, 'It's the same meeting we had last night against the Islanders. We have to play the same way.'" 

The message was the same, but the result certainly was not. Columbus poured in three goals in the first period, two more in the second and two in the third to reach seven goals, tied for the most the team has had in a game all season. 

There was Boone Jenner's hat trick, four-point games for Josh Anderson and Zach Werenski, Ryan Dzingel's breakout three-point contest, and a goal for Matt Duchene.  

So what changed? Well, the luck certainly was more on the CBJ's side -- see Dzingel's goal, in which he corralled a rebound off the back boards and swatted at it a few times before Tuukka Rask knocked it into his own net.  

Video: BOS@CBJ: Dzingel buries first goal as a Blue Jacket

Then there were goals from in tight by Duchene and Jenner in the second period, as each got to the proverbial dirty areas. Anderson finished the kind of chance that went begging the night before with his opening goal, and Werenski's tally snapped a goal-less streak that stretched all the way back to 2018.  

Werenski said he didn't think his power-play shot would go in, but it did, just finding the smallest of holes in Jaroslav Halak. For one night, the inches all seemed to go the CBJ's way. 

"We knew it was a matter of time," Anderson said. "The last three (or) four games, the amount of scoring chances a couple of the lines have been getting, they were grade-A scoring chances and they weren't going in for us. We just had to stay with it. We were all talking before the game and saying, 'We're going to break out here. We have a lot of good players, a lot of 20-goal scorers. We can't be held off the scoresheet for long.'" 

2. Third-period rebound: Nationwide Arena was practically jubilant when Columbus built a 5-1 lead in the opening 28 minutes and change, but by the end of the second period, you could almost reach out and feel the dread. 

Three goals by Boston in the final seven minutes of the second made it a one-goal game, and who could blame Jackets fans for thinking the worst? But in the Columbus locker room, logic took over. 

"We just wanted to get back to our game," Jenner said. "They took advantage of some of the opportunities they got, but I think we were happy that we were in a good spot, up one in our building going into the third. We wanted to make sure we played the right way." 

To hear the players and Tortorella tell it, there was no angry locker room tirade, no "what the heck just happened?" feeling, no shell-shocked nature, no dread. It was just about finishing the game off against a team they knew wouldn't quit, and that's what happened.

Sergei Bobrovsky did have to make good stops on Patrice Bergeron and the omnipresent Brad Marchand in the third, but by and large Columbus held firm in the period, limited scoring chances and getting the power-play goal it needed to sew it up. 

"We knew they were going to have a push down 5-1 there," Werenski said. "Obviously, we would like to limit their goals, but it happened. Between periods we just talked about staying on the gas and staying on the attack, and that's what we did there in the third. I don't think we gave them much." 

3. A big switch: Finally, it appears Tortorella has found what he's been looking for in the experimentation with the team's lines since the trade deadline. 

As both Duchene and Anderson were in the midst of bull-in-a-china-shop performances at New York on Monday, the coach put them together and that line that also features Dzingel took off. Why mess with success, Tortorella figured, so those three were back at it Tuesday. 

The results were better than even Tortorella could have hoped -- in more ways than one. Not only did Anderson, Dzingel and Duchene each score an even-strength goal, but the line Tortorella broke up to put those three together had a pretty good night, too. 

Riley Nash was put with Anderson's former linemates, Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner, and that trio also had its fair share of good vibes. From Jenner's hat trick to Nash's two assists to the checking role they played against Boston's top line, Tortorella was happy with their performance. 

"Josh just fits there right now," Tortorella said. "How long it lasts, I hope it's forever. I just don't know what's going to happen, but you saw when we changed it last night and put Josh there, it was an immediate impact on that line. Hopefully it'll continue because then I can keep Luc's line (together). I thought Jens, Nick and Nasher, I used it as a checking line primarily against (Patrice) Bergeron, and I thought for the most part they did a pretty good job." 

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