LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Columbus Blue Jackets opened a three-game Western Convention journey with victories in Colorado and Arizona, but did not really feel as if they put forth their greatest effort.
Columbus closed out the journey with one in every of their most full video games of the season as Cam Atkinson scored two targets lower than three minutes aside and Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves in a Four-Three victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.
“We talked about it earlier than the sport … taking part in the most effective groups within the league, we knew we needed to convey it, each single line — particularly my line — and I believe we did that,” Atkinson stated. “I believe we performed one in every of our greatest video games of the season, so it is large for us.”
Moments after utilizing his pace to get previous Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb, acquire a rebound off Marc-Andre Fleury and rating an equalizer that tied the sport at Three-all, Atkinson scored the game-winner on an influence play in opposition to the league’s high dwelling penalty kill when he fired a shot over Fleury’s arm.
“We had a few alternatives on the primary energy play, clearly they scored a short-handed aim, which is unacceptable on our half,” stated Atkinson, who has a team-leading 31 targets this season, and the second 30-goal marketing campaign of his profession. “However after we wanted an influence play essentially the most, we stepped up large.”
Columbus has scored a power-play aim in six of its final seven video games (6 of 16). The staff has scored on 10 of 31 power-play possibilities during the last 11 video games.
Josh Anderson and Artemi Panarin additionally scored for the Blue Jackets, who’re in third place within the Metropolitan Division at 31-20-Three (65 factors), two factors behind Washington with a recreation in hand.
“I am not loopy in regards to the metropolis and all of the noise on the market. However the constructing, they do it proper, they usually have staff, that is staff,” Columbus coach John Tortorella stated. “Our guys ought to really feel good, they simply beat a very good hockey membership.”
Nate Schmidt, Jon Merrill and Cody Eakin scored for Vegas, whereas Fleury made 29 saves. The Golden Knights dropped to 16-7-Three at dwelling.
Vegas coach Gerard Gallant thought his staff would possibly begin sluggish in its first dwelling recreation in 17 days — spanning the All-Star Break, a bye week and a four-game journey — however each groups opened the competition with lots of pace and loads of scoring possibilities.
All-Star Seth Jones scored his eighth aim of the season for Columbus and Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt matched his profession excessive together with his fifth aim of the season 32 seconds later.
Later, throughout a penalty kill, Golden Knights first-line wing Reilly Smith streaked into the offensive zone with William Karlsson to his proper. However when Karlsson could not convert and his shot caromed off the publish, Merrill was there and punched dwelling his second aim of the season to place Vegas in entrance 2-1.
Sadly for the Golden Knights, it was the second body they seemed torpid, getting simply three pictures on aim whereas the Blue Jackets put loads of strain on Fleury with 9 pictures. Columbus outshot Vegas 22-12 by means of two durations, and 33-23 for the sport.
“I did not anticipate that second interval in any respect,” Gallant stated. “We simply did not haven’t any leap, it seemed like we had been skating in quicksand and it caught as much as us slightly bit.”
The Golden Knights escaped the second interval tied 2-2, after Panarin caught Fleury behind the aim and fired the puck into an empty internet.
Gallant tweaked his line-rotation a bit and utilized 10 forwards throughout three traces within the third interval, when Eakin gave Vegas a quick Three-2 lead after racing into the offensive zone, accumulating a reasonably cross-ice cross from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and scoring previous Bobrovsky with 10:39 left.
The Blue Jackets would not go away, although, and benefited from Atkinson’s late-game heroics.
“It was a fantastic recreation, particularly within the second interval, step up and play actually laborious,” Bobrovsky stated. “The second interval I assumed we took over. We belief in one another. You do not wish to be too cocky, too excessive, since you by no means know what is going on to occur. It’s important to keep centered, you must keep sharp. We clearly have a belief and perception in one another.”
NOTES: Blue Jackets heart Brandon Dubinsky missed his second consecutive recreation as a consequence of a hip harm and stays one recreation shy of taking part in in his 800th profession recreation. … Proper wing Cam Atkinson performed in his 499th profession recreation, all with Columbus. … The Golden Knights tied a season low for pictures on aim in a single interval, with simply three within the second. Vegas additionally had three in third interval on Nov. 21 at Arizona. … Vegas is tied for third within the league with seven short-handed targets.
Columbus: Hosts Washington on Tuesday.
Vegas: Hosts Arizona on Tuesday.
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