Capacity crowd, playoff implications, Blue Jackets-Penguins.
It's a given that Nationwide Arena was juiced before the puck even dropped tonight in the latest of the home team's "biggest games of the season."
The Blue Jackets, looking at eight straight losses against their rivals from Pittsburgh, put their feet on the gas in the third period to pull away for a 4-1 win in front of a sold-out crowd in Columbus. Huge win, to say the least, but the third period was electric for the home side.
Holding a 2-1 lead deep into regulation, Ryan Dzingel and Matt Duchene made their marks on the Blue Jackets. Duchene took advantage of a Markus Nutivaara play at the blue line, fed Dzingel in the slot and then Dzingel hot Bjorkstrand with a perfect feed for a 3-1 lead. Cam Atkinson's 38th of the season was an empty-netter in the final moments.
How did it start? Feverishly, folks.
After taking an early penalty, Boone Jenner opened the scoring on a breakaway just out of the box, beating Matt Murray for the opening goal 2:12 into the game. The Blue Jackets had several chances later in the first period but couldn't convert, before finally breaking through for a second goal in the second period to boost the lead.
Phil Kessel inadvertently stumbled on a power play breakout, leading to a quick counter for Atkinson – and he blistered a shot past Murray's blocker for his 37th goal of the season and fourth shorthanded.
Zach Aston-Reese cut the Blue Jackets' lead in half later in the second period by beating Bobrovsky on a quick shot in tight, thanks to a nifty setup by Evgeni Malkin.
Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray remains out of the lineup due to an upper body injury.
The Blue Jackets are off until Monday night when they take on the New York Islanders.
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