As this most improbable season has moved along, the Blue Jackets have rewritten the record books with winning streaks and points streaks and laid waste to some of their ignominious claims piled up through seasons of losing.
Last night, armed with a new weapon and still emboldened by the will and spirit that has carried them this far, the Blue Jackets beat the Nashville Predators 3-1 before 17,113 in Bridgestone Arena. Marian Gaborik, who was acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers on Wednesday, scored the go-ahead goal at 4:16 of the third period.
He also had an assist and was the game’s first star.
“I’m glad to have the first game under my belt,” Gaborik said. “It was a great win. I’m glad to be a part of this.”
Matt Calvert and James Wisniewski also scored. Brandon Dubinsky added two assists in his first game back after an injury. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has been the constant theme through all of this winning, had 38 saves, several of them acrobatic.
“This is huge,” said Blue Jackets veteran Vinny Prospal, who helped convince Gaborik to waive his no-trade clause to approve the trade. “There are 11 games to go. It’s going to be like this until the end, so for us to be coming out on top is the feeling we’re after every night.
“There’s going to be a good feeling on the plane tonight, but by the time we get to St. Louis tonight, we’ll be thinking about the Blues.”
The Blue Jackets hadn’t won a regulation game at Nashville since April 3, 2006 — a span of 22 games. Not one player in the dressing room was in the lineup that night.
“Nashville is obviously in a race with us, both of us in the 8-10 range in the (Western Conference) standings,” Calvert said. “To be able to take two points out of this building is huge.”
Gaborik found a gap in front of the net and put his stick blade on a centering pass from Dubinsky, directing it past the glove of goaltender Pekka Rinne to put the Jackets up 2-1.
In addition to the goal and assist, Gaborik had four shots on goal, a plus-1 rating and played 16:03. Coach Todd Richards said his arrival in the Jackets’ lineup affected both clubs.
“I think he backed off their defensemen through the neutral zone,” Richards said. “You watch the way they play, they have a tight gap. But the threat of his speed wide and the playmaking ability backed them off and opened up some space for us in the neutral zone.