Recap: The Gang Wins Again

Here’s what happened

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Huge game tonight for the Columbus Blue Jackets, hitting the road against a division rival. After five straight wins, they had a chance to catch the Philadelphia Flyers in the Metro Division standings.

Things started quite well. Halfway into the first, it looked like the Flyers had a chance to clear, but a great hustle play by Sonny Milano intercepted the puck. He passed cross ice to Seth Jones, who shot into traffic with the rebound sent top shelf by a kneeling Oliver BJORKSTRAND.

Just 11 seconds later, the Jackets struck again. It was a full team effort: Alexander Wennberg won the faceoff and Markus Nutivaara dumped the puck into the offensive zone. Wennberg battled for the puck and tipped it to Thomas Vanek. Vanek passed to a wide-open Jack Johnson. Johnson shot and Boone Jenner was perfectly positioned in front of the crease to deflect the puck into the goal.

Philly responded  minutes later with a Claude Giroux slap shot that snuck between Sergei Bobrovsky and the left goalpost.

Near the end of the period, the Jackets expanded the lead back to two goals. A third different line was responsible. Again everyone was involved, with the puck circulating around the zone to Panarin behind the goal line. Bread passed back to Zach Werenski, who unleashed a long range shot. Both Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson were shielding Petr Mrazek, and it was Cam’s stick that deflected the puck.

Columbus had scored 3 goals in the first 3 meetings between these teams. They scored 3 in the first period here.

Ian “King” Cole took a crosschecking penalty late in the first, and it cost the team at the start of the second, with Shayne Gostisbehere scoring with 4 seconds left in the power play.

Fear not, as once again Cam Atkinson expanded the lead. Credit for this one is due to David Savard, who sent a perfect long distance outlet pass from his own zone. Cam sniped it past Mrazek, whose night ended there, to be replaced by Alex Lyon.

It should be noted here that Lyon was fantastic in relief tonight, saving all 18 shots he faced in 34:45, including SIX shots in a single Jackets power play in the second period. That penalty kill was crucial for Philadelphia, who had narrowed the score to 3-2 on an Andrew MacDonald goal right before.

The third period was all goalies, as neither team was able to get another one past. Philly outshot Columbus 12-7, as once again the Jackets showed signs of fatigue in a third period, going into turtle mode and praying to hold on to the lead.

In the final minute and a half, the Flyers had an extra skater and it required great effort by the Jackets and Bob to keep them from scoring. In the final seconds, Cam got the puck in the neutral zone and MISSED a shot on the empty net. Fortunately he got the rebound and tipped it in just in time to record the hat trick as time expired. That’s the fourth in his career for Cam Hattrickson.

With this win, the Jackets match the Flyers with 81 points (the Flyers hold the ROW tiebreaker). Their win streak is extended to six games, which is the second six game win streak of the season (the first was in mid-November). That first streak was in a stretch of 8 of 9 games, while this current streak is in a stretch of 8 wins in the last 10.

The red-hot Blue Jackets return to Columbus on Saturday night to host the Ottawa Senators, winners of two in a row.

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