COLUMBUS, Ohio – The last time Cam Atkinson set off the Columbus goal horn, Halloween was just around the corner. The day after Thanksgiving, he made up for lost time.
Atkinson scored twice to lift Columbus over the Ottawa Senators 5-2 on Friday night, extending the Blue Jackets’ league-high winning streak to six games.
“It’s good to contribute,” he said. “That’s my game. It’s good to be a part of it and get back to my way of playing.”
Sergei Bobrovsky turned back 24 shots for his 14th win in 19 starts. Columbus improved to 15-7-1 and leads the Metropolitan Division with 31 points.
Ottawa’s Craig Anderson stopped 27 shots as the Senators (8-7-6) lost their fifth straight.
Tom Pyatt got the scoring started off the Senators’ second shot in the first period, taking a cross-crease pass from a driving Derick Brassard and going top shelf over Bobrovsky’s left shoulder. It was Pyatt’s fourth goal of the season, assisted also by Mark Stone.
Atkinson tied the score less than 30 seconds later, stealing the puck from Alex Burrows just inside the Jackets’ blue line and creating his own breakaway. He slipped the puck under Anderson’s left skate for his fifth goal of the season. It was Atkinson’s first score in eight games.
A shot got behind Bobrovsky 17 seconds into the second period, but was swept off the goal line by Boone Jenner without crossing.
Columbus instead went ahead thanks to Markus Nutivaara’s one-timer from the blue line off a pass from Josh Anderson deep in the Jackets’ offensive zone. Ryan Murray also assisted.
“I thought we played as fast as we’ve played in a while,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “(I told them) just let’s get it in first, because of them trying to clog up the neutral zone. I thought we did a really good job of that. We didn’t make too many D-to-D plays. We just quick upped it right away, so we wouldn’t allow them to get in their forecheck.”
But Ottawa knotted the game again midway in the second period. Mike Hoffman took a feed from Ryan Dzingel off an Artemi Panarin blue-line turnover.
The Jackets found the back of the net 1:40 later when Atkinson buried a feed from David Savard for his second goal of the night.
Nick Foligno added insurance when he rifled his fourth goal over Anderson off an assist from Sonny Milano. Tyler Motte added an empty-netter with 50 seconds to go, with assists from Oliver Bjorkstrand and Lukas Sedlak, playing for the second time since missing 13 games while injured.
“It’s obviously a tough slide right now,” Pyatt said. “There is a lot of frustration. But I think when we do get through this we will be a better team for it. Almost every team goes through a tough time like this. We just have to keep building on this.”
NOTES: Ottawa defenceman Fredrik Claesson was a healthy scratch for the first time this season — on his 25th birthday. Hoffman shares the same birthday and turned 28. … Ottawa will play eight of its next nine games on the road.
Ottawa: returns home to host the New York Islanders on Saturday
Columbus: plays at Montreal on Monday.
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