The thing about shutouts is that they’re kind of the narwhal of hockey: science says they’re real, but every time you see one you can’t help but think, “No way is that an actual species that exists.”
The Blue Jackets face-off against Toronto began with two goals in 20 seconds, thanks to Cam Atkinson and RJ Umberger, whose one-two punch got the team off to a riotous start that they rode through all sixty minutes of the game. Atkinson’s goal was off an assist from Matt Calvert, who was back for his second game since being injured.
The second period started much the same as the first, with Jack Skille scoring at 3:07 thanks to a pass from Mark Letestu. It was at this point that the Leafs began to unravel, as their hockey turned into a bad round of Fight Night. As their frustration grew, so did their physicality. A hooking call gave CBJ a powerplay that Murray capitalized on for the second goal of the period and Murray’s first career multipoint game.
Ryan Johansen dominated the third period with two goals, both times off assists from Nick Foligno. Johansen also earned the first star of the evening. Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped all 18 of the shots against him for his fifth career shutout.
The team played with an intensity that likely rose from the frustration of last week’s struggles, never letting up on the puck and managing to do at last what they haven’t really been able to all season: play sixty minutes of hockey. The same Blue Jackets came out to play during the second period as had the first, and came out to play during the third period as the second. They’ve spent all season chasing consistency, and they finally found it.
Of course, the Blue Jackets aren’t going to earn straight shutouts even if they recreate the energy and cohesion they displayed last night. But at least they won’t have to play every game with the goal of forgetting their last.