The Blue Jackets needed to play a structured, aggressive game tonight against the Washington Capitals. They certainly started the right way.
It was quite the impressive start, including a 20-shot opening period and a 1-0 goal from Cam Atkinson to set the pace. Joonas Korpisalo went to work in the second making 15 saves and giving the Blue Jackets a chance to start the third period with a 2-0 lead.
Riley Nash, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Atkinson (again) scored third period goals for the Blue Jackets, who were in control of this game for a large portion en route to a strong team win that snapped a four-game skid. Keep in mind: the Capitals entered this game having won 22 of their first 31 games. That's no joke.
Here are tonight's three things.
Take a Bow, Joonas
Without the strong performance of their goaltender, the Blue Jackets would not have escaped the second period with a lead, let alone a multi-goal lead. You can just see the confidence building with each start Korpisalo makes – and some of his best work tonight was on the penalty kill, against a Capitals power play that inspires fear in its opponents.
Korpisalo made 37 saves in total and 16 came in the third period when Washington turned up its desperate attempt to get back in the game. There were some 10-bell stops, including this dandy:
Wennberg's Work + The Kill
The Blue Jackets probably don't want to take as many tacky penalties as they did tonight (and granted, a few of them were brutal calls). And that's especially true against a power play as dangerous as Washington's, but the visitors were game for it tonight. One guy who stood out was Alexander Wennberg, who was back in the lineup tonight after being a healthy scratch Saturday night in Florida.
Wennberg made a shifty stick-check on T.J. Oshie in the second period, taking away a patented play for the Capitals that usually results in a point-blank slot chance for Oshie. Wennberg lifted Oshie's stick, stole the puck, and killed about 10 seconds with a soft dump-in that went the length of the ice. Despite his 5-on-5 ice time taking a major plunge of late, largely performance-related, Wennberg has been a mainstay on the Jackets' penalty kill – and tonight was a prime example of "why."
Cam Double Dips
Cam Atkinson's goal in the first period of Thursday's game against the New York Rangers was his first 5-on-5 goal of the season. Hard to believe, right? He had only four goals in 27 games coming into tonight, but he added a pair in Columbus' 5-2 win.
He redirected Gus Nyquist's centering attempt in the first period and banked in an empty-netter from about 150 feet late in regulation, capping the scoring. For as much as Atkinson has struggled – including being taken off power play duty – he's kept on playing through it and was rewarded tonight.
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