One day after a lengthy team meeting before practice - one that, in the words of many players, got everyone back on the same page - the Blue Jackets emphatically ended a five-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders. They got seven points (three goals, four assists) from their new-look No. 1 line of Cam Atkinson, Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky, and scored three unanswered goals in the third period to pull away from the Islanders, who hung around in this game thanks to some miscues by the Jackets.
Columbus got it started on a much better note, too, scoring the opening goal at 6:25 (a power play tally) off the stick of Dubinsky, giving the Blue Jackets their first lead in over 287 minutes of game time. That was one of their goals entering the game: start the game on time, play with energy and get a lead and play from in front.
The Islanders answered late in the first, taking a Jackets turnover and converting on a 3-on-2 rush the other way with less than a minute to play in the opening period. Johansen, with a nifty move on the breakaway, made it 2-1 Columbus at 9:27 of the second period before New York answered again; Thomas Hickey's first goal of the year deflected off Johansen's stick in the high slot and over Bobrovsky four minutes later.
With the game very much up for grabs in the third period, the Blue Jackets made sure they were first to pounce.
RJ Umberger gave the home team a 3-2 lead just 27 seconds into the third period, re-directing a Wisniewski wrist shot from the right wall through Nabokov - and it really set the tone for the final 19 minutes. And the most encouraging sign? They stayed on the attack.
Atkinson made it 4-2 with a backhand put-back at 3:24 to finish off a great three-way combination between the top line. Johansen sent a backhander into the crease, Nabokov kicked it out into traffic and Atkinson buried his fourth goal of the season.
Sergei Bobrovsky, coming off one of his best efforts of the season on Thursday, was solid again. For good measure, he picked up the primary assist on James Wisniewski's 190-foot empty net goal with 1:08 left.
Umberger's goal was not only the game-winner, but arguably the most important tally of the game. The Blue Jackets had put together their best second period of the season (firing 14 shots at Nabokov) and needed to put the pedal down in the third. His third of the season started the final stanza on the right foot, and the Blue Jackets took his lead the rest of the way.
1. RYAN JOHANSEN (CBJ)
The 21-year-old appears to be coming into his own, and tonight's performance was indication of just how dominant he can be. Johansen anchored the Jackets' top line, registered a goal and two assists, and helped his team really push the pace in the third period.
2. BRANDON DUBINSKY (CBJ)
What else can you say? No one wanted to have a big effort tonight more than Dubinsky and help get his team back on track; he played 19:45, put up a monster three-point effort and really drove the bus for Columbus tonight.
3. RJ UMBERGER (CBJ)
He scored the game-winner, played nearly 17 minutes and took four shots on goal as part of a new-look trio with Anisimov and Gaborik. His presence at the front of the net was the direct cause of the game deciding goal.
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