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#Game 20 Recap: Atkinson’s Hat Trick Lifts Blue Jackets Over Hurricanes, 4-1

The Columbus Blue Jackets kept their hot streak rolling on Saturday night, blowing past a rested Carolina Hurricanes club on the road thanks to a Cam Atkinson hat trick in a decisive 4-1 win.

Atkinson scored one in the first and two in the second around a Zach Werenski goal. Sergei Bobrovsky did what we’re used to in net, stopping 30 Carolina shots to pick up his seventh win of the year.

The first-place Blue Jackets are 5-0-2 in their last seven and have won three straight. They’re good right now, friends.

Artemi Panarin assisted on the team’s first three goals and Pierre-Luc Dubois registered a pair of apples as well.

Though Carolina won the advanced stats battle (62.5 CF% in all situations, 59.02 FF% according to NaturalStatTrick.com), Columbus made the most of their scoring chances and went 1-for-5 on the power play en route to the win.

First Period

Columbus weathered an early storm from Carolina (sorry) through the first 10 minutes and controlled the play for most of the frame.

You’d never believe it, but Scott Harrington, Lukas Sedlak and Markus Hannikainen turned in one of the best chances of the first period.

The Blue Jackets found paydirt a few minutes later thanks to some Artemi Panarin magic, a Cam Atkinson one-timer and Scott Darling maybe not being very good:

Blue Jackets 1, Hurricanes 0, 8:06 left in the first period

A speedy first period that saw only a handful stoppages went the way of the Blue Jackets, despite a slight 9-8 shot disadvantage. The Blue Jackets created some dangerous chances and managed to convert one en route to a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

Second Period

The Panarin-to-Atkinson connection didn’t take long to strike again, scoring just 1:57 into the second period. Panarin entered the zone and waited until the last second to spring Atkinson in front of the net, who showed some patience of his own to backhand it past Darling:

Blue Jackets 2, Hurricanes 0, 18:03 left in the second period

Columbus went on the game’s first power play thanks to a Carolina interference penalty, but couldn’t add to their lead despite a juicy Boone Jenner point-blank chance that Darling managed to stop.

Sebastian Aho cut the lead in half shortly after killing the penalty. Aho won a faceoff and eventually took the puck behind the net before coming around on the other side with a backhand that beat Bobrovsky, pick the Hurricanes off the mat (albeit briefly).

Blue Jackets 3, Hurricanes 1, 13:55 left in the second period

Carolina’s momentum proved short-lived. One minute and 17 seconds later, the Panarin-Atkinson line combined for another goal—this time for Zach Werenski. Panarin fought off a couple of checks in the neutral zone and passed to Atkinson, who dropped the puck to a trailing Werenski. No. 8 didn’t miss from the top of the circles, hitting the pipe to beat Darling and restore the visitors’ two-goal lead.

Blue Jackets 3, Hurricanes 1, 12:38 left in the second period

Andrei Svechnikov high-sticked Josh Anderson to give the CBJ another power play, and this time the good guys converted. A faceoff win led to Alex Wennberg finding Atkinson all alone, who cannoned one past Darling to complete the hat trick. The power play is legit, and what a goal from Cam:

Blue Jackets 4, Hurricanes 1, 8:40 left in the second period

The goal—and larger CBJ onslaught—prompted Carolina to take their timeout.

A Columbus delay of game put the Hurricanes on the power play for the first time. The Hurricanes entered the night 22nd in the league on the man advantage but having scored PP goals in the previous four games…but they wouldn’t on Saturday night.

Seconds after the delay of game penalty expired, Panarin went back to the box on a too-many-men bench minor. Kind of embarrassing! The penalty kill rose to the occasion, though, looking stellar as the advantage passed without event (although Werenski made a goal-saving block soon after).

With 45.7 seconds left in the period, Panarin drew a Clark Bishop tripping call to put the now-dangerous CBJ PP back to work. Nothing doing before intermission, but that was fine.

Great period for the visitors, answering a Carolina goal with two of their own and killing a couple of penalties.

Third Period

No goal on the rest of the power play, but Anthony Duclair nearly scored on a breakaway two minutes into the stanza. Darling managed to get just enough of his right pad to keep the puck out and send Duclair flying into the crossbar, keeping the score at 4-1.

Lucas Wallmark plowed into Sergei Bobrovsky 5:12 into the period for a Carolina penalty, but the Blue Jackets spent much of their time playing defense. Bob was up to the task, stopping Jordan Martinook on a shorthanded breakaway:

The Hurricanes kept up the attack and drew a penalty of their own, this time a hooking infraction against Josh Anderson.

Little thing on the beginning of the penalty: Brandon Dubinsky lost a faceoff and blocked a shot into the net…and on the next faceoff? The Blue Jackets lost it again, but Boone Jenner stretched to put himself in front of the shot and send the chance to the other end of the ice. Exactly what you want to see.

Though Carolina spent much of the PP trying to skate the puck up ice, Dougie Hamilton hit the post and Bob stood tall near the end of the penalty as Columbus survived without incident.

The Blue Jackets spent the rest of the game putting the squeeze on and preserving the win. Duclair almost had another breakaway with 1:46 to go, forcing Justin Faulk to slash him in prevention of a chance for the team’s fifth and final power play. Columbus didn’t score, but it was enough to salt away the win and send the victorious Blue Jackets over the boards to congratulate Bob.

Quick Thoughts

  • NC State played a basketball game at PNC Arena earlier in the day, but the ice looked fine. Impressive job from the arena operations staff.
  • Don’t go, Artemi.
  • Saturday marked four straight games with a goal for Cam Atkinson, a new personal-best. No. 13 notched his fifth hat trick in the game, tying Rick Nash for the most hat tricks in CBJ history.
  • We’re watching one of the best starts in franchise history at 12-6-2. Weren’t we calling for firing coaches and starting Joonas Korpisalo a few weeks ago? What a time to be alive./

  • Speaking of goaltenders, Bob has been unreal. Another one-goal performance for a guy who faced eight high danger chances and three penalty kills. *Chef’s kiss*
  • Zach Werenski looks to be working out whatever doghouse he finds himself in with John Tortorella, playing 16:07 and scoring a goal. Can’t be too angry with the results they’re turning in, one guesses.
  • Carolina hadn’t played since Monday. Bizarre.
  • The Blue Jackets next head to Toronto for a Monday night game at 7 p.m. against the Maple Leafs./