- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Cam Atkinson believes the Columbus Blue Jackets are getting better.

But he’s also realizes just how far they have to go.

“We got a little taste of what we wanted in making the playoffs,” the 24-year-old winger said the day after the Blue Jackets were eliminated in Game 6 of their wild first-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“We just won two games. It’s a stepping stone.”

For years an NHL doormat, the Blue Jackets are both inspired and also realistic after the best season in the franchise’s mostly rocky 13 seasons.

“I heard on the radio the other day that Game 4 is one of the great sports moments in this city,” forward Mark Letestu said, referring to a three-goal comeback at home that was capped by a last-minute tying goal in regulation and Nick Foligno’s overtime winner.

“I think there’s a lot more that we can give. We can give series victories and further cement the Blue Jackets in the hearts of people here. That’s what’s on guys minds right now.”

It was a season of firsts for the Blue Jackets, who have spent much of their existence toward the bottom of the NHL standings.

They set club records with 43 regular-season wins, 21 road victories, 93 points and 231 goals.

They had made the playoffs just once previously and their stay lasted only four games, all losses.

But one of the league’s youngest teams overcame a 5-10-0 start with a strong finish to clinch a playoff spot.

Then, they won Games 2 and 4 against the Penguins with stirring comebacks.

In Monday night’s Game 6, they were outclassed early and trailed 4-0 heading into the final period before scoring three goals in a 4:52 span to energize a crowd of 19,189 that stood and roared throughout the final minutes.

The 4-3 defeat left them disappointed, but most will likely only remember the Jackets scrambling at the finish for a possible tying goal while the Penguins struggled to hold them off.

“The building was rocking,” defenseman Jack Johnson said. “But there’s going to be a lot more and better times ahead.”

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