It's nice to have #13 back in full force.
After a tumultuous campaign that saw the Blue Jackets winger miss 28 games with ankle issues, Cam Atkinson was ready to go come playoff time. The 31-year-old from Riverside, Connecticut has always been a clutch player. Last night, we saw that on full display.
With just over a minute gone in the third period and the score knotted at 0-0, Atkinson received a pass from David Savard and controlled the puck while entering the Maple Leafs' zone. He picked his spot, fired, and found the back of the net for his franchise-record eighth playoff goal.
Cam gets the party started and he is PUMPED. pic.twitter.com/TdISUgfiw2— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) August 3, 2020
While Frederik Andersen could have done better, Atkinson will certainly take it, as will the Blue Jackets.
Three minutes later, Atkinson was back at it. He drew a tripping penalty that gave the Blue Jackets a huge opportunity to go up 2-0. While they weren't able to take advantage of the opportunity, it was two minutes of constant pressure on the Maple Leafs.
(Atkinson) just gets run over, but he makes the play to get the puck out. That's a really big play for us.– John Tortorella on Atkinson's Assist
He wasn't done there. As time dwindled down in the third period, the Maple Leafs made one last push with an empty net in an effort to tie the game. Atkinson stepped up, made a play on the puck, and took a big hit. His pass found Nick Foligno, who in turn found Alex Wennberg, who buried an empty-netter to seal Game 1 for the Blue Jackets.
While Atkinson wasn't as potent offensively this year as he was last season, Tortorella hopes that this will bolster his confidence.
"For a goalscorer, a guy that has struggled a little bit as we've gone through, hopefully that'll loosen him up a little bit," said Tortorella after Game 1.
A confident Atkinson is one that scores in bunches. The Blue Jackets will need him to be at his best as they attempt to take a 2-0 series lead on Tuesday afternoon.