Welcome to the club, Matt Duchene.
Granted, the Ottawa Senators weren't a tough opponent tonight. Their lineup is depleted and their season is a wash, and the Blue Jackets kind of coasted to a 3-0 win at Canadian Tire Centre.
Josh Anderson scored his career-best 22nd goal of the season. Cam Atkinson tallied a key goal on a shorthanded breakaway, and Oliver Bjorkstrand sealed the deal with a late goal in the third period. Sergei Bobrovsky didn't have a ton of work, but he made some important saves in the second period to keep the Blue Jackets rolling.
Let's talk about a big win at the end of a big day.
All the attention was on the Blue Jackets' new-look top line of Atkinson, Matt Duchene, and Artemi Panarin – but while that trio was trying to figure things out and work through some new-ness on the ice, the added benefit was improved depth from the Duchene acquisition. After the Blue Jackets failed to convert on four (!) first-period power plays, Anderson broke down the right side and scored the opening goal on a wicked shot.
Anderson was with his usual line mates in Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner. Pierre-Luc Dubois centered Anthony Duclair and Oliver Bjorkstrand, while Brandon Dubinsky centered Riley Nash and Eric Robinson. John Tortorella deployed a balanced lineup and used his bench tonight, and they now have serious options when matching lines and taking advantage of situations.
The new Blue Jackets are stacked up front, and we saw some of the benefits to that tonight.
Bobrovsky wasn't extremely busy by any means, but he was a rock between the pipes. When he was needed, he was there, and the Blue Jackets really controlled the game 5-on-5 with minimal mistakes. He recorded his fourth shutout of the season and finished with 18 saves on 18 shots.
What an addition this is going to be. The injection of skill and speed with Duchene joining the Blue Jackets gives them another dimension – and another top center to pair with Dubois. Duchene was strong in the face-off circle (as he's known to be) and showed his skill in collaboration with Panarin and Aktinson, particularly on the early power plays, though they weren't able to cash in.
Duchene's line in his Columbus debut: 19:11 TOI, three shots on goal, and he won 53 percent of his face-offs.
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