Hockey is a funny game sometimes.
Exhibit A: the Blue Jackets were pretty disappointed to drop a 2-1 decision Monday night in Pittsburgh, a game in which they defended well and didn't give up many chances to the potent Penguins offense. The game-winning goal was a centering pass that went off Sidney Crosby's skate, defended by Nick Foligno, and into the net in the third period of a one-goal game.
While tonight's game played out quite differently, the irony was not lost on Foligno, who scored the game-winner with 1:31 left on a centering pass off his skate. The Blue Jackets, who trailed just 32 seconds into the game and at one point were facing a 3-1 deficit, rallied with two goals in 49 seconds to pull even in the second period and kept pushing back until they scored one more goal than the New Jersey Devils.
And as coach Todd Richards said post-game, that's what it's all about. Find ways to win, find ways to get one more goal than your opponent and empty the tank. Columbus did just that in what quickly became a sloppy, mistake-filled affair that favored the Blue Jackets and their tenacious forecheck.
Brandon Dubinsky scored a big goal at 4:19 of the second period, jamming in a loose puck that eluded Martin Brodeur. Atkinson's second of the game was born from hard work below the goal line by Dubinsky, who made a quick pass out to Atkinson at the side of the net...and just like that, it was a 3-3 game and the Blue Jackets had everything rolling in their favor.
Matt Calvert, the third cog in that red-hot line, had no points to his line mates' three apiece - until the first shift of the third period. Dubinsky drove down the right wing, fired a shot that Brodeur kicked out right to Calvert's stick, and he made no mistake to give the Blue Jackets their first lead 18 seconds into the third period.
Damien Brunner's second of the night tied the game with 6:01 to play, but the Blue Jackets came up with their best shift of the night to snag the full two points in regulation against a divisional opponent.
Dubinsky's goal (one of four points on the night for him) was the tipping point of the game. The Devils took a 3-1 lead 68 seconds into the third period and at that point, it was not looking like the Blue Jackets' night. But No. 17 didn't give up on the puck and stayed around the net, eventually finding the loose change and squeaking it over the line to bring the Jackets within a goal. From there, you could say it snowballed.
1. CAM ATKINSON (CBJ)
The kid could have scored four tonight with as many chances as that line was creating, but his two goals were just what the doctor ordered. He was +2, took four shots and was all around the net - one thing we've seen more and more of from the Blue Jackets these last five games.
2. BRANDON DUBINSKY (CBJ)
This was Dubinsky at his best: aggressive, timely, willing his teammates along in the second and third period. Not to mention a four-point night (one goal, three assists) and six shots on goal, most among all Blue Jackets tonight.
3. MATT CALVERT (CBJ)
It was only a matter of time before Calvert got on the scoresheet tonight and it was a crucial goal in the third period. He played 19:54, registered a game-high five hits and played an important role in digging pucks out for his line mates.
AT NEW YORK RANGERS
THURSDAY, 7 P.M.
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN