The Blue Jackets keep finding ways to win.
Tonight, with some obviously tired legs after their Western Canadian streak, the Jackets put their faith in Curtis McElhinney and were rewarded handsomely.
The Kings came to skate, and pushed the Jackets around for sizable chunks of the period. Neither team managed to break through, but C-Mac turned away the steady barrage, and when the Jackets caught Los Angeles in a mistake, they pushed hard, with odd man rushes coming early and often, requiring Peter Budaj to make some excellent saves.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Cam Atkinson opens the scoring.
Atkinson’s hot, and in this case he was capping off a group effort, with Boone Jenner getting the puck deep, Brandon Dubinsky walking around from behind the net and putting a perfect pass on Cam’s waiting stick at the side of the crease. Tic-Tac-Goal.
Alas, this was not a game to be won 1-0. After Josh Anderson dropped the gloves with Andy Andreoff following a rough hit, the Jackets found themselves on the PK when Anderson was given an extra roughing minor, and guess who picked up the Power Play Goal?
Jeff Carter. Because of course it was.
The Jackets have been a great third period team, and the Kings know that. They came out and hit hard, trying to overwhelm McElhinney early, and pinned the Jackets in their own zone while hammering the net again and again. But it wouldn’t be LA who scored next.
The Jackets finally broke into the Los Angeles zone and got a good cycle moving, and who else but Cam Atkinson would grab the puck and slam it home?
2-1 Columbus, but sadly the story didn’t end there.
As time trailed down, the Kings pushed hard for the tying goal, and all they needed was for the Blue Jackets to make a mistake.
Sam Gagner missed his coverage on Jeff Carter, and the veteran scorer was able to make enough room to fire through traffic to tie things right back up.
As if things weren’t tense enough, David Savard would be whistled for a penalty with just a over a minute and a half to go in regulation, and the Jackets would be forced to fight for their lives. Fortunately, between some good work by the PK and a couple of excellent saves by C-Mac, this game would be headed to overtime, continuing the points streak...and giving an opportunity to make a little history.
The Jackets very clearly wanted to end this game in OT, and they had chances. An odd man rush off the PK went just off target. Brandon Saad broke through like a madman and beat Budaj, but hit the pipe.
Seth Jones had a try that Budaj was able to get a stick on, and Cam Atkinson just missed a redirect that would have given himself a hat trick to go with the Game Winner.
It was not to be. The five minute OT ended, and a shootout awaited.
Cam Atkinson kicked things off with a beaut of a goal, and McElhinney turned Anze Kopitar away.
Sam Gagner made up for his earlier mistake in the third period by pulling his own version of Ryan Johansen’s “slow down, speed up, break through” move to put the Jackets up 2-0 in the shootout, but Jeff Carter (AGAIN) managed to put one past Mac to keep the Kings alive.
Alexander Wennberg couldn’t win things on his shot attempt, but McElhinney was able to turn aside Marian Gaborik’s attempt, and the Jackets had their record setting 10th win in a row. They opened up a little more of a gap between themselves and the teams in the Wildcard chase. They put themselves in position to potentially overtake the Penguins for the division lead if they can win in regulation on Thursday.
Because they just keep finding a way.