Playing in the third game of their west coast road trip, the Columbus Blue Jackets put together one of their best performances of the year to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights. Down one late in the third period, the CBJ – led by their leading scorer – came back to take the two points in regulation.
The Blue Jackets Are Streaking
With losses going into, and coming out of, the Blue Jackets’ 10-day break, the CBJ embarked on this three-game west coast trip losers of five straight. After winning in Colorado and Arizona earlier in the week, the Jackets were trending the right way coming into Saturday night’s game in Vegas, eventually handing the Golden Knights just their seventh regulation home loss of the season.
Cam Atkinson discussed the feeling of the team after their 4-3 win over Vegas, saying:
I think the first two games we obviously found a way to get the wins and four points, but I think tonight we actually played one of our best games of the season, and it’s these type of games that make you really feel good about yourself and we’ve got to keep this mojo going .
Despite The Distraction, Bob And Bread Continue To Perform
It’s no secret that the futures of Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin remain uncertain. With trade rumors swirling, both players played key roles in Saturday’s win.
Although he allowed two goals on nine shots in the first period, many of the seven shots Bobrovsky did stop were terrific saves. Then after facing just three shots in the second period, Bob stood tall in the third. Although one puck found the back of the net in the final twenty minutes, he survived the frantic final couple minutes as the Golden Knights applied pressure in desperation mode.
On the offensive side of the puck, Artemi Panarin contributed in his own way. At the end of an impressive shift in the second period, Panarin buried a puck past an out-of-position Marc Andre Fleury to tie the game up at 2-2. He then picked up assists on both of Cam Atkinson’s third period goals to tie, then ultimately win the game.
The Top Line Responds
In Thursday’s 4-2 won over the Coyotes in Arizona, it was well documented that the top line of the CBJ played in just a couple minutes of the third period.
On Saturday, the aforementioned Artemi Panarin picked up a goal and a pair of assists. Pierre-Luc Dubois registered an assist. And last but not least, Cam Atkinson delivered a pair of goals late in the third to win the game.
Atkinson’s first goal of the evening, and 30th of the season, came with 5:12 remaining to tie the game up at 3 apiece. A long pass from Panarin off the boards sprung Atkinson into the offensive zone. He got around the defender and chipped puck past Fleury to give the CBJ some late life.
A couple minutes later, Artemi Panarin drew a penalty to give the CBJ a power play with 2:56 left. Just 17 seconds into the man advantage, Atkinson took a feed from Zach Werenski and sent a wrister into the back of the net to give the Jackets a 4-3 lead.
Cam Atkinson spoke about the play of his line on Saturday, commenting:
I think last game, our line especially, didn’t play the way we wanted to, and we knew we had to have a big game against this team…and I thought we played one of our best.
CBJ Power Play Gaining Momentum
In the six games since their break, the Blue Jackets have started to have some success on the man advantage. They’ve registered a power play goal in five of those six games, going 5-for-12 during that stretch.
While there are certainly several factors that have played into the club’s newfound success, Cam Atkinson credited their new Special Teams Consultant, Martin St. Louis, for their renewed confidence, saying:
I think Marty St. Louis comes in, and him and [Brad Larsen] have been working a lot together and just kind of breaking it down for us, and just feeling good about our games, and I think it’s translating into the games which is huge for us.
The next step for the Blue Jackets is to continue their solid play at home. Now 17-9-1 on the road, the CBJ are just three games above .500 at Nationwide Arena. With the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division visiting Columbus this week, the Jackets have the opportunity to keep riding this hot streak back into contention for first place.