COLUMBUS -- It wasn't just a win for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It was a stepping stone.
Head coach Ken Hitchcock has done some great things with his charges since taking over in late November but still hasn't been able to convince them all to trust his style.
The result has been some streaky play and a few one-on-one meetings with the coach this week in the hope of getting his message across to the core players -- defence creates offence.
It certainly worked in their favour last night as they outlasted the Calgary Flames 2-1 at Nationwide Arena.
One of the most disappointing performers among the list of talented forwards Hitchcock is guiding has been Rick Nash, who seems to have taken the recent meeting to heart as he consistently pressed the Flames to create turnovers and set up the Jackets' important first goal in the comeback.
"He told us championship teams always play the same way if they're down two goals or up two goals," said Nash after the win. "We really took that to heart and kind of used that tonight."
Nash has the skill set to race in on defenders and make them miss but last night relied on gritty work in the corners and chasing the puck after putting it deep behind Calgary's blueliners.
That made the victory a little more sweet.
"They're one of the toughest teams in the league," said Nash. "To battle against them like that and hold on, hang in there till the last 10 minutes and bury two goals and get the two points, it was a big game, a big win."
Nash knows the playoffs are a dream unlikely to come to fruition this season.
He also understands it's not just about this season.
"We know we've got to be better, the top players," said Nash. "We've got to start competing more and putting the points up. We know that."
Hitchcock was proud of the way his team played against the Flames.
"It would have been disappointing to lose that game the way we played," Hitchcock said.