In one sense, the Blue Jackets wanted to forget Jeff Carter's 39-game career in Columbus. Fans were welcomed, free of charge, to have the No. 7 sweaters stripped off Carter's last name and replaced with the club's new No. 7, defenseman Jack Johnson.
But in another sense, fans in Columbus couldn't wait to give Carter a rude welcome back to Nationwide Arena on Thursday, and it turned out to be a rare night of celebration for the Blue Jackets.
Johnson, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings for Carter two weeks ago, along with a first-round draft pick, scored the winning goal in the Blue Jackets' 3-1 victory.
"You can see the difference in the way our team plays when you have all 20 guys actually work hard and want to be here and play," defenseman James Wisniewski said, a not-so-subtle jab at his former teammate.
Carter went into hiding for three days last summer after he was traded by Philadelphia to Columbus. It wasn't until general manager Scott Howson, then-coach Scott Arniel and captain Rick Nash went to his summer home in New Jersey that Carter spoke publicly.
Though he never said he was unhappy in Columbus, and he never requested a trade, Carter's body language rubbed many the wrong way within the Blue Jackets, and the decision was made to trade him in early January.
Not surprisingly, he was booed lustily every time he touched the puck on Thursday. He had no shots on goal, no points and a minus-1 rating in 18:39 of play.
Meanwhile, Johnson has said all the right things in Columbus, embracing a fresh start even though the Blue Jackets have no chance to make the playoffs.
In six games with the Columbus since the trade, Johnson has two goals, two assists and has averaged more than 24 minutes of ice time per game.
NOTES, QUOTESJackets are getting warm at the end
--Before Thursday's 3-1 win over Los Angeles, the Blue Jackets hadn't won four straight games since Nov. 22, 2010, a span of 131 games. This is the Jackets' first winning streak of more than two games all season.
--Fans with Jeff Carter sweaters were encouraged to bring them to the Blue Jackets' gift shop at Nationwide Arena through the first period of Thursday's game. Free of charge, the Jackets replaced Carter's name with that of defenseman Jack Johnson, who took Carter's No. 7 when they were traded for each other two weeks ago.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're trying to ruin everybody else's season." -- Blue Jackets winger Rick Nash, embracing the role of spoiler after the Jackets won their fourth straight game.
ROSTER REPORTPLAYER NOTES:
--C Mark Letestu had the second two-goal game of his career in Thursday's 3-1 win over Los Angeles. He hadn't scored a goal in 16 games before redirecting a James Wisniewski slap shot past Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier in the first period.
--G Steve Mason stopped 16 of 17 shots Thursday before leaving late in the second period with a cut to his left pinkie finger. The right skate of Blue Jackets defenseman John Moore clipped Mason as Moore twisted and fell awkwardly into the net, opening a cut that took 15-20 stitches.
--D Fedor Tyutin, the Blue Jackets' blue-line mainstay during a calamitous season, suffered a broken hand late in Tuesday's win over Phoenix and is out for the rest of the season. Tyutin had appeared in all 66 games before the injury.
--D Fedor Tyutin (broken hand) is out for the season.
--C Derek MacKenzie (concussion) is out indefinitely.
--LW Kristian Huselius (lower body) is out indefinitely.
--D Radek Martinek (concussion) is out for the season.
--D Marc Methot (broken jaw) is out for the season.
--RW Jared Boll (broken foot) is out indefinitely.