Although the Columbus Blue Jackets trailed most of the night Saturday in Minnesota, you could just tell they were never out of the game. They kept fighting. They kept pressuring. Even down two goals at two separate points in the game, the Blue Jackets stayed confident knowing they would get their chance to respond.
A Strange Goal
The Blue Jackets only led once on Saturday. They led when it mattered most when the game was over. Alexander Wennberg scored one of the stranger goals you will see to win a game. It doesn’t matter how you score them. As long as they go in legally, they’ll take it.
Artemi Panarin created space in the offensive zone and found Wennberg near the goal. The puck bounced up and hit Wennberg in the belly. He then directed the puck past Devan Dubnyk. However a review was necessary.
At first glance, it appeared the puck went in because Wennberg punched it with his glove. But a closer look revealed that the puck hit the shaft of Wennberg’s stick. By centimeters, the goal counted and the Blue Jackets skated off with a 4-1-0 start tying them for their best five-game start in franchise history (2009-10.)
Before the Blue Jackets could celebrate the victory, they had to make several comebacks.
A Back & Forth Affair
Saturday was the Wild’s home opener. Although they missed many of their regulars thanks to injury, they stormed out to a lead thanks to Eric Staal. The building was alive. But it didn’t faze the Blue Jackets not even a little.
It took just 35 seconds for the Blue Jackets to respond.
Wennberg made a great pass to a cutting Zach Werenski and he beat Dubnyk to tie the game. The first period ended the same way it started, tied.
The Wild wasted no time to build a lead in the second.
Tyler Ennis and Landon Ferraro scored 2:09 apart at the beginning of the period to give the Wild a 3-1 lead. Now we were going to learn something about these young Blue Jackets. Again, they wasted no time.
David Savard brought his offense to St. Paul and blasted one past Dubnyk to cut it to 3-2. The Blue Jackets only needed 2:35 to cut the deficit to one. The period ended 3-2 Wild but you could tell the Blue Jackets weren’t done.
The Wild restored their two-goal lead thanks again to Ennis. He scored his second power-play goal of the night to make it 4-2. Again, as we’ve come to see, the Blue Jackets responded quickly. It only took 57 seconds to get within one.
Noted sniper Cam Atkinson deflected a puck into Dubnyk who couldn’t control it. Atkinson stayed with the puck and scored to make it 4-3. It just felt like a matter of time before the Blue Jackets tied the game.
At 16:23, it happened. They tied the game.
Savard sent a shot towards the net and Josh Anderson deflected it past Dubnyk. A review ensued to make sure the puck wasn’t hit with a high stick. Anderson kept his stick at hip level. The goal stood and the Blue Jackets completed the comeback. They earned at least a point by getting to overtime. Then Wennberg did the rest to earn the second point. Atkinson discussed the resiliency the Blue Jackets showed.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) October 15, 2017
The Blue Jackets could have made any excuse they wanted. It was the second night of back-to-back on the road against a quality opponent. Instead of folding, they kept fighting and responding to everything the Wild threw at them.
For a young team trying to figure things out, Saturday is about as encouraging a sign as one could see. Momentum kept shifting throughout the game. Instead of letting the Wild seize it for long stretches of time, the Blue Jackets took it back over and over.
The Blue Jackets persistence paid off in a big way.
When the games have more on the line later in the season and eventually in the playoffs, they need to show this kind of resiliency in a hostile environment. Saturday was an excellent first step in showing that they had this kind of play in them.
Although there are things they must improve on (penalty killing among them), the Blue Jackets showed a resiliency that will only help them later. They won’t always play a perfect game, but they showed us they weren’t out of the game.
These Blue Jackets never say die. That’s as encouraging as it gets just five games into the season.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.