Jackets’ top line shines vs. Knights
LAS VEGAS — Their benching Thursday in Arizona was a surprise, but the members of the Blue Jackets’ top line rebounded in a big way Saturday night.
Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson led the way in the Jackets’ 4-3 win with the former contributing a goal and two assists and the latter scoring back-to-back goals in the third period to take the lead for good.
Atkinson now has 31 goals for his second career 30-goal season — he also reached that mark in 201617. Pierre-luc Dubois also chipped in with an assist and a plus-1 rating.
“I don’t think we played our best, but we found a way to get it done,” Atkinson said.
The Golden Knights really get into the whole Knighthood thing, which they play up during pregame theatrical presentations to get the crowd going.
Spoiler alert: The Golden Knight pulls a hallowed sword out of a rock formation at center ice, after some of his fellow Knights “fire” flaming arrows at some poor sap carrying a flag with the opposing team’s logo.
It’s cheesy, but it works in Las Vegas. It misses the mark with accuracy, though, in regard to the Blue Jackets. Columbus has proven to be a menacing, blue, fire-breathing dragon for the Golden Knights, who’ve dropped their past three games against the Jackets.
Columbus, which split the two-game series last season, swept this year’s series with the win Saturday and is now the fifth team in the league to hold three regular-season wins over Vegas.
The Blue Jackets allowed eight goals during the threegame trip, but only two were scored by forwards.
They allowed six goals by defensemen, including all three in a 6-3 win to start the trip at the Colorado Avalanche and two more Saturday night by the Golden Knights.
Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov and Samuel Girard were the scoring defensemen for the Avalanche, Jordan Oesterle put one in the net Thursday at the Coyotes, and Vegas got its first two from Nate Schmidt and Jon Merrill.
Only one of the Blue Jackets’ 14 goals during the trip was scored by a defenseman — David Savard gave Columbus a 2-0 lead with 2:47 left in the first period against the Coyotes.