That's pretty much what you're looking for out of a top line. Big-time performance from Atkinson, Dubinsky and Gaborik tonight that gave the Blue Jackets a huge lift.
JACKETS 4 | SABRES 1
And right from the opening face-off and their first shift, it looked like that trio was determined to make a difference in the hockey game. They supported the puck, stopped around the net and weren't afraid to stretch it out and make things happen off the rush. The end result? A three-point game for Gaborik, a multi-point game for Atkinson and a boatload of scoring chances.
When you add it all up, it's no surprise that the Blue Jackets left Buffalo with two points in their back pockets.
Remember the fast start from the Islanders over the weekend? The Blue Jackets never let that materialize for the Sabres, who wanted something similar in seeking their first win of the season. But Columbus scored early to take the crowd out of it and added two more in the opening 20 minutes to send an emphatic message to the Sabres, who never recovered from a sloppy first period.
Let's go in-depth on tonight's big win in Buffalo...
- Insert the (yes, it's early) disclaimer here, but the Blue Jackets are 2-0-0 on the road and have looked really strong in the process. Hindsight is always hindsight, but they're a couple of bounces and a better opening night away from being 3-0-0. It sure looks as if the disappointment of opening night woke them up, because they've been much crisper in their last five periods.
- Doesn't look like we'll need to worry about Marian Gaborik. Good grief. He gave the Sabres fits all night long and was 1/3 of that dynamic top line for Columbus. He fired five shots on goal, hit a crossbar and probably could have notched a hat trick tonight if not for Ryan Miller's diving glove save in the third period.
- The Umberger-Johansen-Foligno line was, once again, impressive for the Blue Jackets. They scored a goal for the second consecutive game and it was again born from some hard work below the end line, cycling the puck and making something happen out of what appeared to be nothing. Foligno's goal might have been a bit fluky, but it got the Jackets going in that first period after Vanek tied things up.
- If there's one glaring item coming out of an otherwise-impressive showing, it's the double-minor power play in the second period that didn't bear any fruit. The Sabres didn't gain anything from the four-minute kill but the Blue Jackets had a chance to put the game out of reach even further, but to their credit, Buffalo did a nice job while down a man. The Blue Jackets were 0-for-4 on the night but definitely had their chances.
- Ryan Murray recorded his first NHL point on Gaborik's goal in the first period, and it was a play that started with Murray supporting the puck behind his own net. He cleared the zone and it went right to Atkinson, who jetted across the line, faked a shot and slid a pass to Gaborik in the low circle for a tap-in goal. Murray played nearly 17 minutes and was a +3 on the night.