Atkinson’s two goals help Blue Jackets beat Senators
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the score tied and the outcome hanging in the balance midway through the third period, the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets took control and kept their winning streak going.
Cam Atkinson’s second goal of the game broke the stalemate and sent the Blue Jackets on their way to a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus (15-7-1) has won six games in a row, its longest streak since its team-record 16-game run last season.
“I thought our start was outstanding, the way we played, how fast we played and how heavy we played down low,” Blue Jackets right winger Nick Foligno said. “That’s a pretty dangerous team even though they’re trying to find themselves. We stuck with it and found ways to score big goals. Cam had a huge one for us to get it to 3-2.”
Atkinson’s blast from the left circle at 10:40 gave the Blue Jackets (15-7-1) the lead in the third. He also scored Columbus’ first goal in the opening period.
“I think Cam was a little frustrated,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “An offensive guy wants the puck. Goal scorers want to score. Cam has been stuck a little bit here.”
For Atkinson, it was his fifth goal of the season but his first in almost a month.
“It felt like I haven’t scored a goal in a couple of years,” Atkinson said. “It’s good. It’s good to contribute. It’s nice to have to be a part of it and get back to my way of playing.”
Foligno had a third-period goal (his first goal in a month), Markus Nutivaara scored in the second period and Tyler Motte added an empty-netter in the final minute for the Blue Jackets.
Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky won his sixth game in a row. He finished with 24 saves, the bulk of them in the third period with the Senators pressing forward.
“Give them credit. They came back,” Tortorella said. “Bob made three or four really key saves in the third period until we score a couple. It’s a good win for us.”
Josh Anderson, Ryan Murray, David Savard, Sonny Milano, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Lukas Sedlak each had an assist for the Blue Jackets.
Tom Pyatt and Mike Hoffman accounted for the struggling Senators’ two goals, and Derick Brassard, Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel were credited with an assist each. Craig Anderson made 27 saves.
“Obviously, it’s a tough slide right now, a lot of frustration,” Pyatt said. “I think when we do get through this we’re going to be a better team for it. Almost every team goes through a tough time like this.”
The Senators (8-7-6) are winless (0-4-1) in their last five games.
“When you lose four in a row, your confidence level is not high,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “I like the fact that we built it up. I thought our second period was very good. I thought the first 10 minutes of the third period were outstanding. The power play went great, we just couldn’t score.”
The back-and-forth game was tied 2-2 after two periods as the teams matched goals in the second.
The Blue Jackets grabbed a 2-1 lead at 7:28 of the second when Nutivaara’s shot from just inside the blue line found its way through traffic past Anderson for his first goal of the season.
Less than two minutes later, the Senators knotted the score at 9:00 when Hoffman beat Bobrovsky glove-side after a Columbus turnover at the blue line.
The Blue Jackets had scored first in six straight games before the Senators ended that streak at 10:56 of the first period on just their second shot of the game. Pyatt took a quick pass from Brassard in front of the goalmouth and lifted a shot above Bobrovsky’s blocker.
Columbus responded with the tying goal 26 seconds later. Atkinson stole the puck in the Blue Jackets’ zone and scored on a breakaway, skating in on the goal and holding the puck until the last second before sliding it between the near post and Anderson’s left skate.
The Senators managed only four shots on goal to the Blue Jackets’ 14 in the first period but came out of it tied at 1.
NOTES: C Gabriel Dumont made his Senators debut. He was acquired Wednesday on waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning. He had four penalty minutes in seven games with the Lightning. “It’s another chance for me,” Dumont said. Ottawa placed Chris DiDomenico on waivers. ... Blue Jackets C Alexander Wennberg missed his fifth consecutive game with an undisclosed injury. ... Senators LW Ryan Dzingel played three seasons of college hockey at Ohio State in Columbus. ... Senators RW Bobby Ryan has yet to score a goal this season. ... The Blue Jackets’ six-game win streak is their longest since winning a franchise-record 16 in a row last season. ... Ottawa LW Zack Smith (broken thumb) could return for Saturday’s home game against the New York Islanders. ... Blue Jackets LW Nick Foligno had gone 12 games without a point before delivering the assist on the winning goal in a 1-0 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night. ... Veteran D Fredrik Claesson was scratched and replaced in the Ottawa lineup by rookie D Ben Harpur.