This was a very eventful game, but what matters most is the end result - and it was arguably the Blue Jackets' most authoritative victory of the season.
No one needed to remind them that the Minnesota Wild were in town on the second half of back-to-back games and just played the Chicago Blackhawks the night before. But given the way the Blue Jackets played tonight, it may not have mattered if the Wild got to take a couple of siestas between periods.
Seeking a shoot-first mentality and a collective effort offensively, the Blue Jackets registered their highest shots on goal output of the season (41) and put four behind Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom, while Curtis McElhinney stopped 20-of-20 to record his first shutout as a Blue Jacket and the second of his career. The Blue Jackets had four different goal scorers but got a six-point effort from their de facto No. 1 line, which has really turned it up a notch in the last few games.
Cam Atkinson and Nick Foligno (PPG) scored goals in the second period to stake Columbus to a 2-0 lead through 40 minutes. And, as you're aware, they're pretty good when they do that: with tonight's victory, the Blue Jackets improved to 35-0-0 under coach Todd Richards when leading after two periods.
But perhaps one of the highlights of this third-period wasn't that it was maintained, but added on to.
Boone Jenner finished a nifty set-up from Blake Comeau early in the third period - his first goal in 13 games - to essentially put the game away. RJ Umberger buried a behind-the-back pass from Nick Foligno less than five minutes later to cap the scoring with his seventh goal of the season.
Richards called it the most important moment of the game: penalties to Anisimov and Dubinsky gave Minnesota a 5-on-3 for 1:13 in the second period and the Blue Jackets really buckled down. Their three penalty killers were on the ice for the duration of the two-man advantage (Letestu, MacKenzie, Tyutin) and gave up only low-percentage chances. It was the only legitimate chance for Minnesota to get back in the game, and it was squashed out emphatically by the Blue Jackets.
1. NICK FOLIGNO (CBJ)
Not a bad week for No. 71, who's taken his own game up a notch this season. His eighth of the season brings him within two goals of the team lead held by Ryan Johansen, and it's largely because he has been willing to consistently take pucks to the net. His goal tonight was a second opportunity in the crease, and that's what the Blue Jackets did all night long.
2. RJ UMBERGER (CBJ)
Umberger is heating up and that line has been doing the same offensively. He had a goal and an assist tonight, finishing the Foligno pass and setting up Foligno's power play goal in the second period.
3. CURTIS MCELHINNEY (CBJ)
While 20 saves might not seem like a hefty workload, there were some nervy moments for the Blue Jackets and McElhinney stood tall. His best work, without question, was on the Wild's 5-on-3 in the second period.
AT PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
MONDAY, 7:30 PM
CONSOL ENERGY CENTER
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