In ancient times, the conventional wisdom to end a drought involved praying and sacrificing to a multitude of deities.
In the NHL, it takes perseverance and, a lot of the time, a little luck or a great play from a teammate to end a scoring drought. Cam Atkinson had a convergence of these factors Thursday night when he netter the overtime winner against the Carolina Hurricanes and scored his first even strength goal of the season.
Atkinson, noticing Pierre-Luc Dubois making a strong play on the neutral zone dashers, sprinted up ice to create a near-perfect 3-on-3 scoring opportunity. After an excellent pass from Dubois, Atkinson tapped-in the long-waited goal.
Is it the perfect end to a scoring drought? Well, no. It was scored at 3-on-3, so though technically "even-strength," a goal is easier to come by in these situations. It also resulted mostly Dubois' effort to make a strong move on the wall and put the pass in a perfect spot.
But a goal is a goal.
Sometimes goalscorers need a little help to get their scoring muscles going. Before Thursday's game, Atkinson had various breakaway and high-danger opportunities in the first 9 games, but couldn't bury any.
This game-winner could be the spark for more finishing on the part of goal-scoring.
Though Atkinson appeared elated on the ice in his overtime celebration, he was business-as-usual in his post-game presser.
"As soon as you get the call, you need to make sure you're doing your job and get the job done," said Atkinson of his role in the 3-on-3 plan.
In addition to his comments on strategy, Atkinson acknowledged Dubois as the great contributor to the overtime victory.
"He (Pierre-Luc Dubois) made the play. It was a hell of a play," said Atkinson. "I thanked him for getting the monkey off the back again."
Atkinson continued to focus on another important play he had made in overtime. In the overtime opening face-off, the Hurricane's Jordan Staal and the Blue Jacket's Nick Foligno got tangled in their battle. Atkinson, quickly noticing the stalemate, the winger joined the scrum, helping the Blue Jackets get the opening possession.
"In overtime, if you win the draw, you win the game," said Atkinson of his mentality in helping with the draw.
Atkinson also commented on the importance of winning these close, overtime games.
"These points are crucial. Whether you get one point or two points, they all add up and come April time this is when you need them the most," Atkinson said.
Though Atkinson didn't focus on it entirely, the importance for a goal scorer to break a drought is crucial for any teams' offensive output. Though it wasn't his play, as he said, he can still take the finisher's confidence from the goal and capitalize on the momentum going forward.
The drought is done, and for Atkinson's sake, the hope is that it does not return.