Well, that was not the best hockey game that was ever played.
The Columbus Blue Jackets stole two points in New Jersey tonight, beating the Devils 2-1 in a shootout. In the NHL, two points are two points, no matter how you come by them, but the Blue Jackets will certainly have to improve their play to cement their place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Here are three things from tonight.
Atkinson Comes Up Big
Cam Atkinson scored 52 seconds into the game for his 36th goal of the campaign, giving him a new career best. In a game where it seemed the Blue Jackets were sleepwalking for large portions, they clung to Atkinson's goal as it lifted them to OT, and ultimately, a shoot-out win.
Speaking of shootouts, Atkinson made it 1-0 Columbus after the first round with this nifty top shelf backhander.
— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) March 6, 2019
He came up big when the Blue Jackets needed him most, and he's a key reason why they got the all-important two points tonight.
The Blue Jackets were first on the board 52 seconds into the game, thanks to Cam Atkinson, which has not been the norm lately. It's telling that the Blue Jackets are 26-5-2 when scoring first and only 11-21-1 when their opponent scores first. Their quick first period goal allowed them to weather the surprising storm of a very depleted New Jersey squad. The Devils controlled most of the game and played much better hockey, despite having several injured key contributors. Had Columbus not pocketed that quick goal, we may have been looking at a different final scoreline.
The Longest 16 Minutes of the Season
In what was the latest of issues with the Blue Jackets, there was an almost 16(!!) minute gap between shots on goal for Columbus. They went from 11:57 left in the first period to 16:05 left in the second without registering a shot on goal, which is almost unheard of in the NHL. It's emblematic of the team's recent issues, though. The Blue Jackets were second-best all night to a team filled with AHL players, even though they clearly possess more talent. New Jersey outworked Columbus in every facet tonight, and the Blue Jackets had to rely on the strong play of Sergei Bobrovsky for 65 minutes plus the shootout to grab two points and get out of town. This trend is worrying, and we'll see what the Blue Jackets are truly made of in their next two crucial games, both against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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