Sports

After a season of firsts, Columbus Blue Jackets hoping to build on close series with Penguins

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, April 23, 2014 file photo, fans fill the Nationwide Arena for Game 4 of a first-round NHL playoff hockey series between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins in Columbus, Ohio. It was a season of firsts for the Columbus Blue Jackets in their 13th season. They won their first playoff games and pushed the mighty Penguins, who were heavy favorites in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, to six hard-fought games before finally losing out. Huge crowds followed them down the stretch as they fought their way into the playoffs, and they played to capacity crowds in three games at Nationwide Arena during the playoffs. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, April 23, 2014 file photo, fans fill the Nationwide Arena for Game 4 of a first-round NHL playoff hockey series between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins in Columbus, Ohio. It was a season of firsts for the Columbus Blue Jackets in their 13th season. They won their first playoff games and pushed the mighty Penguins, who were heavy favorites in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, to six hard-fought games before finally losing out. Huge crowds followed them down the stretch as they fought their way into the playoffs, and they played to capacity crowds in three games at Nationwide Arena during the playoffs. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, April 23, 2014, file photo, fans fill the Nationwide Arena for Game 4 of a first-round NHL playoff hockey series between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins in Columbus, Ohio. It was a season of firsts for the Columbus Blue Jackets in their 13th season. They won their first playoff games and pushed the mighty Penguins, who were heavy favorites in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, to six hard-fought games before finally losing out. Huge crowds followed them down the stretch as they fought their way into the playoffs, and they played to capacity crowds in three games at Nationwide Arena during the playoffs. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, April 23, 2014, file photo, fans fill the Nationwide Arena for Game 4 of a first-round NHL playoff hockey series between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins in Columbus, Ohio. It was a season of firsts for the Columbus Blue Jackets in their 13th season. They won their first playoff games and pushed the mighty Penguins, who were heavy favorites in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, to six hard-fought games before finally losing out. Huge crowds followed them down the stretch as they fought their way into the playoffs, and they played to capacity crowds in three games at Nationwide Arena during the playoffs. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this Monday, April, 21, 2014, file photo, from left, Columbus Blue Jackets' Nikita Nikitin, of Russia, Boone Jenner, Ryan Johansen and Dalton Prout celebrate their goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period of a first-round NHL playoff hockey game in Columbus, Ohio.  It was a season of firsts for the Blue Jackets in their 13th season. They won their first playoff games and pushed the mighty Penguins, who were heavy favorites in their first-round series, to six hard-fought games before finally losing out. Huge crowds followed the Blue Jackets down the stretch as they fought their way into the playoffs, and they played to capacity crowds in three games at Nationwide Arena during the playoffs.(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

    FILE- In this Monday, April, 21, 2014, file photo, from left, Columbus Blue Jackets' Nikita Nikitin, of Russia, Boone Jenner, Ryan Johansen and Dalton Prout celebrate their goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period of a first-round NHL playoff hockey game in Columbus, Ohio. It was a season of firsts for the Blue Jackets in their 13th season. They won their first playoff games and pushed the mighty Penguins, who were heavy favorites in their first-round series, to six hard-fought games before finally losing out. Huge crowds followed the Blue Jackets down the stretch as they fought their way into the playoffs, and they played to capacity crowds in three games at Nationwide Arena during the playoffs.(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)  (The Associated Press)

For most NHL teams, getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs is hardly a watershed moment.

The Columbus Blue Jackets — a doormat for so long — feel as if it's a turning point, a tentative step to transforming the once sorry club.

In a season of firsts — most wins, most goals, first postseason wins — the Blue Jackets are left to deal with their last game, a crazy comeback from a 4-0 deficit falling just short in Game 6 against the favored Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night.

Now one of the youngest teams in the league has established an identity as a hard-working bunch with blossoming talent.

The Blue Jackets, their playoff beards shaved, believe the future is bright.