Blue Jackets able to complete perfect road trip
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-Reference.com, 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.