The Columbus Blue Jackets came into the last game of their four-game road trip expecting a tough, physical match-up against the Anaheim Ducks. What they did not realize was how much of a breakthrough they would have offensively, scoring four goals in a 3:58 span in the first period to take a 4-0 lead and never looked back.
Blue Jackets forwards Brandon Saad and Sam Gagner scored two goals apiece and captain Nick Foligno notched three primary assists for a breakthrough performance on the offensive front. Before Friday, the Blue Jackets had not scored four goals in a game, let alone a single period, this season. They also had a season-high 37 shots on goal.
Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella was pleased with his team’s all-around performance, but especially the offense.
“The puck went in on our chances and everybody contributed,” Tortorella said. “Our young guys have played really well and I felt a few of our older guys got on track a little bit tonight during this game. With offensive guys, you see it all the time where once they score a couple, they loosen up and allow themselves to play. That’s a good way to end a trip.”
Something that sparked the Blue Jackets from the get-go was young forward Josh Anderson stepping up on his first shift.
“We knew they were going to come out hard in their building and finish their checks,” Anderson said. “[Head coach John Tortorella] said before the game to make sure you’re not scared of them and fight back, finish checks. I just tried to do that my first shift by finishing my check and getting the guys going a little bit.”
That was exactly what happened — Anderson made a big impression and faced a fight against the Ducks’ Josh Manson, but he held his own, earning claps and kudos when he returned to his bench.
Tortorella had high praise for Anderson after the game.
“That was a good solid hit,” Tortorella said. “The opposing player took exception and so he fought him. But I think he feels a little better in his skin. He just gives you a whole different element and I think he makes other players faster. He drags people along with his speed. It’s still early, but I think he has been consistent right on through.”
Another consistent player has been Blue Jackets starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. He stopped all 35 saves he faced to earn his second shutout of the road trip and the 14th shutout of his NHL career. With Friday’s performance, he ended the four-game road swing with an 0.960 save percentage.
Bobrovsky’s teammates were quick to give him credit for the team’s 2-1-1 road record and their 3-3-1 start to the season.
“Bob played a hell of a game and we tried to make it easy for him,” forward Alexander Wennberg, who had two assists tonight, said after the game. “He is making some big saves and it makes it easy for us, to be honest.”
Tortorella also agreed with Wennberg about Bobrovsky’s performance.
“He has been solid right on through,” Tortorella said. “That’s what we were talking about in the third period–to play for him a bit here and try to help him because he has bailed us out along the way.”
Bobrovsky said that he had full confidence in the team in front of him tonight, as everyone played a more complete game.
“You can see how hard we competed and worked and how hard they played, and how responsible the guys have been,” Bobrovsky said. “It’s fun to be that team. We work hard together. We lose together, we win together and that is the thing. It’s great to have these two points.”
The Blue Jackets will travel back to Columbus Saturday, and will have Sunday off before holding practice Monday ahead of their Tuesday night match-up against the Dallas Stars, a team they beat 3-0 earlier this week.