What a difference a game makes.
Three days after an embarrassing 7-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Columbus Blue Jackets returned home to Nationwide on Thursday night for the first of two against the Nashville Predators.
The result couldn't have been any more disparate.
Cam Atkinson and Max Domi scored, Eric Robinson added an empty net goal, and Elvis Merzlikins stopped all 32 Nashville shots en route to a 3-0 Blue Jackets victory, their first shutout of the season.
Here are three things from a satisfying victory:
FIVE IN A ROW FOR KILLA' CAM
Cameron Atkinson, have a streak! In the final seconds of the first period, Atkinson made it five consecutive games with a goal when he (literally) popped one over Predators goalie Juuse Saros. It was the first goal of the game, it gave the Blue Jackets a bit of momentum heading into the tunnel, and with the shutout, would hold as the game-winning goal.
A closer look:
Hey, five game goal streaks don't come without at least a little bit of puck-luck. Cam still needs to score in his next two games if he wants to match his seven-game goal streak from November of 2018.
Max Domi is a better player than he's shown this season. Starting the season as the second line center, he was briefly promoted to top line duties after the Pierre-Luc Dubois deal, but tonight found himself skating on the 4th line. His 11:14 of ice time was a season low, and only Eric Robinson (who also scored) had less than Domi, but he was effective. This goal, his third of the season, was his only shot of the night, but damn if it wasn't a seeing-eye laser.
ELVIS AND THE DEFENSE COME UP HUGE
Apparently, more shots on Elvis only fuel him. Merzlikins posted his sixth career shutout, and while 32 saves is an impressive tally for a goose-egg, three of his five shutouts last year came on at least 32 shots from the opposition. Locked in tonight, Merzlikins has likely earned another start against Nashville in the second game of the series Saturday. The defense did their part too, though. Seth Jones had arguably his best defensive game of the season, a good chunk of the Nashville's 32 shots were easy saves for Merzlikins, and the Blue Jackets appeared in control of the puck in their own zone - a rarity so far this season. Also, who had the Blue Jackets first shutout of the year coming with a second blue line pairing of Scott Harrington and David Savard?