March 31, 2019 / 3:02 AM / 19 days ago

Atkinson, Panarin power Blue Jackets to 5-2 win over Predators

EditorsNote: 4th graf, add a “the”;

Mar 30, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) takes the ice for warmups before the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Atkinson scored twice to tie the franchise record for goals in a season and Artemi Panarin collected four assists to set a Blue Jackets record for points in a campaign as visiting Columbus beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 Saturday night and remain in a playoff spot.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 23 shots for Columbus (44-30-4, 92 points), which has won four straight and is one point back of the Carolina Hurricanes for the first wild card spot.

Columbus is tied with the Montreal Canadiens, but holds the second wild card spot with the tiebreaker.

Nashville’s two-game winning streak was snapped on a night the Predators (44-29-6, 94 points) failed to take advantage of an opportunity to claim top the spot in the Central Division.

Atkinson’s tally 50 seconds into the game, finding the mark while on a rush with Panarin, was his 40th of the season, making him just the second Blue Jackets player to reach that plateau.

In keeping with the theme of franchise records, Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson pulled his team even exactly eight minutes later with his 33rd goal of the season, which equals the standard set by Jason Arnott and Filip Forsberg. Arvidsson has missed 24 games due to injury.

But Columbus controlled the game from there. David Savard restored the visitors’ lead at the 15:58 mark of the opening frame, and then Oliver Bjorkstrand tallied with 1.9 seconds remaining in the period to make it 3-1.

Forsberg scored on a rebound at 12:14 of the second period to make it a one-goal game, but Boone Jenner’s breakaway goal 74 seconds later gave Columbus the lead for good.

Atkinson notched his 41st goal of the year, which equals the amount Rick Nash netted in 2003-04, with just over four minutes remaining in the middle frame, which gave Panarin his fourth helper of the game and 83 points on the season.

Atkinson had a golden chance for the hat trick with a third period penalty shot, but was denied.

Juuse Saros made 27 saves for Nashville.

—Field Level Media

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