Blue Jack­ets able to com­plete per­fect road trip

Dayton Daily News - - SPORTS - By Brian Hedger

The bass was LAS VE­GAS — thump­ing so loud, even the play­ers could feel it.

There were loud noises, flash­ing lights, show­girls in the aisles and a full-on Ve­gasstyle pro­duc­tion from start to fin­ish Satur­day night at T-Mo­bile Arena. Oh, yes, there was also one heck of a hockey game played be­tween the Colum­bus Blue Jack­ets and Ve­gas Golden Knights – whose up-tempo style and off-the-charts at­mos­phere have taken the NHL by storm.

“This build­ing has so much en­ergy, it’s un­be­liev­able,” said Blue Jack­ets de­fense- man Ryan Mur­ray, who was in­jured last sea­son and didn’t get to ex­pe­ri­ence it from ice level. “It was a great game. One of the best games of the year, hon­estly — not that we played, but just the en­ergy level and noise level. I re­ally en­joyed it. It was great.”

It didn’t hurt that Colum­bus won this time, sweep- ing their three-game road trip with a 4-3 vic­tory on the wings of two late goals by Cam Atkin­son — his 30th and 31st of the sea­son.

Af­ter a night of cel­e­brat- ing, Ve­gas style, the BlueJack- ets (31-20-3) head home Sun­day happy — know­ing they’re back on the right track with two big games this week at Na­tion­wide Arena against the two teams ahead of them in the Metropoli­tan Di­vi­sion (Washington Cap­i­tals on Tues- day, New York Is­lan­ders on Thurs­day).

They’ve also come a long way since los­ing five straight prior to this road trip.

“It’s huge for us,” Mur­ray said. “Win­ning and los­ing is so tight in this league. There’s very small dif­fer­ence be­tween the two, so some­times you lose a step in your game and you lose a cou­ple in a row. It’s just good to get back at it.”

Here are three take­aways from Satur­day night in Sin City:

How sweep it is

The vic­tory gave the Blue Jack­ets two sweeps for the price of one. They swept the road trip with a 3-0-0 record, down­ing the Colorado Avalanche, Ari­zona Coy­otes and Ve­gas, and also swept the sea­son series against the Golden Knights.

In fact, out­side of be­ing over­whelmed in a 6-3 loss here last sea­son, Colum­bus has done noth­ing but win against Ve­gas – win­ning three of the first four games the two teams have played since the Golden Knights en­tered the NHL last year.

Ac­cord­ing to Hockey-Ref­er­, only five teams can now make that claim — and the Blue Jack­ets are the lone rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the East­ern Con­fer­ence.

First line, first rate

Tor­torella was not pleased with the way his top line started the third pe­riod Thurs­day in Ari­zona, so he sat them for the fi­nal 11 min­utes of the game.

Two days later, they re­sponded – led by Atkin­son’s goals. Artemi Pa­narin also had a goal and two as­sists for his team-high 19th multi-point game of the sea­son and cen­ter Pierre-Luc Dubois as­sisted on Atkin­son’s first goal.

When they play like that, the Blue Jack­ets’ first line is one of the most dif­fi­cult to de­fend in the en­tire league.

An­der­son was a force

Speak­ing of dif­fi­cult to de­fend, Josh An­der­son had an­other big night with his 19th goal and a whop­ping 10 shot at­tempts (six on goal).

He also played 21:11 on 26 shifts and helped the Blue Jack­ets’ penalty kill snuff out Ve­gas’ only power play of the game — pre­vent­ing the Golden Knights from putting a sin­gle shot on net.

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