Understaffed, yes. Outworked? Hardly.
In what has been a roller coaster ride of a five-game road trip through Canada, the Blue Jackets - missing several regulars due to injury - committed to a simple and efficient game plan tonight against the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs. They were not going to get involved in a run-and-gun, shoot-out type of game against one of the NHL's best offensive clubs, but they were bought in to the style that's made them successful: getting pucks deep in behind the defense, grinding away on the forecheck and staying disciplined.
Entering the game, Toronto owned the league's second-best power play unit and armed with some of the game's top scoring talent, it wasn't hard to see why. The Blue Jackets didn't give them any ammunition, and for the most part, kept the game at even strength en route to a 6-0 victory at the Air Canada Centre.
They closed out the five-game trip with a 3-2-0 record and played solid hockey with the exception of two clunkers in Edmonton and Vancouver. Sergei Bobrovsky, who struggled at times on the trip, bounced back and was poised between the pipes for Columbus; he picked up his first shutout of the season and fifth as a Blue Jacket in the team's 24th game of the season.
Cam Atkinson started the scoring palooza midway through the first period, cashing in on a cross-crease pass from line mate Matt Calvert. RJ Umberger followed it up 20 seconds later by crashing the net and giving the Jackets a 2-0 lead, quieting the Leafs crowd after some great work down low by Ryan Murray.
And in a second period that hasn't been kind to them throughout this season, the Blue Jackets tacked on two more; Jack Skille's first as a Blue Jacket made it 3-0 and Murray's third of the year pushed the lead to 4-0 on the power play.
Johansen scored a pair of goals in the third period to cap off a three-point night. He now owns the Jackets' goal-scoring lead with eight on the season.
There wasn't a true tipping point tonight, but Murray's power play goal took the Maple Leafs completely out of the game. Once the Blue Jackets that four-goal cushion into the third period, it was all she wrote from the Air Canada Centre.
1. RYAN JOHANSEN (CBJ)
Two goals, an assist, nearly 20 minutes of ice time, five shots on goal...not a bad night at the office for Johansen, who continues to play well and blossom into a top role for the Jackets. His eight goals lead the team and with 16 points, he's two behind Wisniewski for the team lead.
2. SERGEI BOBROVSKY (CBJ)
Finally, Bobrovsky has his first shutout of the season. It wasn't flashy or spectacular by any means, but he got the job done tonight for the Blue Jackets. Bobrovsky made 18 saves including a couple of really good ones early in the first period.
3. RYAN MURRAY (CBJ)
Outstanding game for the Jackets' young defenseman tonight. He played over 20 minutes again, registered a goal and an assist and formed a solid pairing with regular partner James Wisniewski.
vs. NASHVILLE PREDATORS
WEDNESDAY, 7 P.M.