Well, there’s good and bad to talk about in the Blue Jackets return to the ice after the all star break.
If the idea was to set the tone for the final 33 games of the season with this contest against the Rangers, it’s hard to say it was terribly successful.
Still, a win is a win.
Opening the game by killing the sole penalty of the game, the Jackets survived as much from a couple good saves by Joonas Korpisalo as they did from New York simply having exceptionally bad puck luck.
As if to demonstrate the home team’s struggles, All Star Defenseman Seth Jones skated up ice after the successful kill and put a beaut of a shot past Henrik Lundqvist, scoring on Columbus’ first shot on goal, a goal that would stand through the intermission.
Both teams would start down a skater after late coincidental minors, and Brandon Saad would score the second goal of the game off a nice rush. Just after the 4 on 4 expired, Alexander Wennberg capitalized off a bouncing puck, redirecting it into the Rangers net and signaling the end of King Henrik’s night.
The Rangers got a brief boost from Antti Raanta’s appearance in net, but the Jackets would be the ones scoring the next goal, with Scott Hartnell dropping a beautiful pass back to a trailing Seth Jones, who hammered it in for his second of the night, and first career multi-goal game (if we don’t count the two he scored in LA on Sunday, at least).
Nick Foligno would cap off the scoring in the second period with a beautiful top corner shot, and the Jackets would take the 5-0 lead into the third period with fans feeling pretty damn good about putting this one in the win column, particularly after Matt Calvert scored in the early minutes of the third period to make it a 6-0 lead.
Not so fast, my friend.
The Rangers found another gear and began harassing Korpisalo and the flustered Columbus defense, particularly the bottom pairings, and slashed the lead in half with three goals in four minutes.
A time out that seemed to be more of a silent treatment from Tortorella and the coaching staff to the bench settled things down, stemming the bleeding with a little help from Korpisalo (and some more missed chances by the Rangers). With three minutes to go, Alain Vigneault would call Raanta to the bench, but the Jackets didn’t capitalize - surrendering a fourth goal to Kevin Klein, but fortunately keeping the Rangers from cutting things any closer before time expired.
Blue Jackets 6 - Rangers 4
It was sloppy, it was fun, it was exciting, it was scary, it was frustrating...but in the end it was a win.
Korpisalo didn’t look all that solid tonight, but neither did the defense in front of him. Getting Savard or Nutti (or ideally BOTH) back would go a long way to helping stiffen things up for this team.
With Washington losing, the Jackets are now 2 points back of the Caps for 1st in the Metro and 1st overall in the NHL, and still have a game in hand.
Torts did not address the media tonight, but I have no doubt he knows that there’s work to be done before facing the Penguins on Friday, because while I don’t doubt that Bob will be an immediate improvement in net, the opposition will be at another level as well.