COLUMBUS — With points in eight of their last nine games, the Columbus Blue Jackets are finally starting to play with consistency and are being rewarded for their efforts.
Saturday, the Blue Jackets beat the Ottawa Senators 4-2 in regulation, and scored the game’s first goal for the first time in four games. Defenseman Seth Jones said he has noticed a shift in the room since he first played with the team on Jan. 8 and he said consistency was “definitely key” to the Jackets’ success.
“We showed signs of playing great hockey those first few games [I was here for],” Jones said. “We didn’t do it for a full 60 minutes—we would take a period or two off and it would hurt us and cost us the game. But now, we’re making the right decisions and that’s the most important thing, and is leading to successful hockey.”
Jones said the team is also playing with more confidence, especially Saturday when they finally scored that elusive first goal.
“That was a key point before the game to get that first goal, because we’ve been chasing a bit the past few games,” Jones said. “We [scored it] and it feels a whole lot better to get that first one and know you are playing ahead. “The confidence is high right now. The more you win, the more confidence the team is going to have. We want to keep winning and continue the streak.”
Another point of consistency has been Jones’ contribution not just along the blue line, but also on offense. With two assists, Jones brought his Blue Jackets points total to 10 points — all assists — in 16 games.
Jones was quick to say that for him, his personal scoresheet does not matter. It is all about the team playing alongside him.
“It’s not all about the points,” Jones said. “I think I have created quite a bit [of offense] and may not have gotten points in a game, or gotten four, five, six shots in a game and not had a point. I’m just putting the puck to the net and trying to create chances for the team.”
Though head coach John Tortorella was not as impressed with Saturday’s overall effort as he was in the Blue Jackets’ 4-3 shootout win against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, he emphasized the win as another step in the right direction.
“I thought we were just a dumb hockey team in the last three or four minutes of that second period,” Tortorella said. “We played well, we played hard, we scored important goals at key times and had key saves at key times, but I don’t think we had as much structure and discipline as we did against Anaheim. But, we have played through some momentums that have gone against us and grabbed them back [in this stretch] and that’s really encouraging.”
Tortorella also gave credit to rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, who has consistently held his own in the crease during the Blue Jackets’ streak. For the second straight game, though, Korpisalo only faced a few shots early on, which has been problematic for him in the past for finding his rhythm to start the game. Korpisalo said he did not let that faze him against the Senators.
“I thought my preparation for the game was good, so it didn’t really bother me, not getting many shots,” Korpisalo said. “In the second period we played kind of bad, so I started to get more shots.”
The second period briefly took a scary turn as Korpisalo took a heavy wrist shot to the neck. He was slow to get up before he told the Blue Jackets’ trainers that he was okay to stay in the game.
“I saw the shot was coming high and reacted, and the puck hit under my helmet on my neck,” Korpisalo said. “I thought ‘I can breathe, I’m okay.’ It will be nothing bigger than a bruise.”
With regular goaltenders Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney already out with injuries, it was good news for the Blue Jackets that Korpisalo was just fine, and a huge relief for Korpisalo himself.
“I was like ‘oh three goalies injured, that would be so bad,’” Korpisalo said. “I got so lucky. It could have hit further over and it would have been trouble, but I’m happy it wasn’t worse than it was.”
Korpisalo and the Blue Jackets will look to keep the consistency going as they face off against the Boston Bruins in yet another home game on Tuesday.