COLUMBUS -- This time, Nick Foligno was in the right place at the right time.
One night after Foligno had the winning goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins bounce off him, teammate Ryan Johansen's pass hit his skate and deflected into the net with 1:31 left in regulation to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 5-4 win against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
“It was nice to have the puck go off my body and count for our team tonight,” said Foligno, who wasn't the only Blue Jacket to rebound from a bad night in Pittsburgh.
Forward Brandon Dubinsky drew the ire of coach Todd Richards following the 2-1 loss to the Penguins for being ejected after arguing with the officials in the third period. Dubinsky responded against the Devils with a goal and three assists to help Columbus rally after trailing 3-1.
“I saw Brandon play hard,” Richards said. “I’ve seen that in most of the games he played. I don’t know of that was a motivation from [Monday].”
New Jersey (12-14-6) got two goals from Damien Brunner, with his second making it 4-4 with 6:01 left.
The Devils appeared headed to overtime for the fourth time in six games before a second bad luck goal sent them to defeat. The Blue Jackets’ first goal came from a Dubinsky shot that was stopped Martin Brodeur only to carom off Atkinson and into the net.
“Tonight was a game where the hockey gods helped us out a little bit,” Richards said.
New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer was looking for more balanced scoring and he got it – all nine players on the top three lines had points, including goals from Travis Zajac and Michael Ryder in addition to those by Brunner. Still, losing a two-goal lead had DeBoer upset afterward.
“It’s disappointing,” he said. “I don’t have any other words for it. Can’t happen. Shouldn’t happen. We had the 3-1 lead. I don’t think we gave them a whole lot They cashed in on the handful of chances they got.”
The line of rookie Reid Boucher, Jaromir Jagr and Zajac opened the scoring 32 seconds after the opening faceoff. Boucher earned his second assist in four games since being recalled from the minors with a drop pass to Zajac down the right side when the Devils took advantage of a pinch attempt by Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin.
Zajac did the rest with a snap shot that flew past the right shoulder of Curtis McElhinney for his sixth goal. He almost added another at 3:10, but his shot hit the crossbar following a turnover.
“We shouldn’t have lost that game,” Zajac said. “In the second it got away from us a little bit. They capitalized on a couple of their chances and it was kind of fight after that, back and forth."
After Atkinson tied the score with his first goal, Columbus defenseman Dalton Prout coughed up the puck at his own blue line, Steve Bernier picked it up and fed Adam Henrique, whose shot was stopped. But Henrique got the rebound and centered to Ryder, whose shot went just underneath the crossbar and fell across the line for his ninth goal.
Columbus was 0-7-0 when trailing after the first period, and things looked bleak when the Devils took the two-goal lead. Patrik Elias threaded a pass from the left corner for a one-timer by Brunner 68 seconds into the middle period. The goal was Brunner’s fifth of the season and first in 18 games since Oct. 26 against the Boston Bruins.
“It’s definitely nice when you score after a stretch like that,” he said. “[But] it’s tough to get scored on late like that when the points are sitting there for us.”
Dubinsky started the comeback with by scoring one goal and setting up another in a 49-second span to get the Blue Jackets even.
“We definitely gritted it out,” he said. “They seemed to have the puck the majority of the game but some guys stepped up and made big plays at key times.”
On the first, he won a faceoff back to the left point where Jack Johnson was able to fire a shot on goal. Atkinson tried putting in the rebound before the puck came to Dubinsky at the left post. He jammed it across the line at 4:19 for his sixth goal.
That score had barely been announced when the Blue Jackets struck again. Dubinsky had the puck behind the Devils’ net when he skated left, right, then left again to shirk the defense and find Atkinson for the near-post redirection that went top shelf for his ninth goal.
“Without that line the result is probably much different,” Richards said.