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Labatt Blue What We Learned: CBJ 7, OTT 6 (OT)

Atkinson scores twice to lead Blue Jackets in a wild win in Ottawa

by Rob Mixer @RobMixer /

Pack the gear up, head to the bus and let's get to the airport.

In no uncertain terms, that's about how the Blue Jackets were feeling after tonight's overtime thriller at Canadian Tire Centre.

They gave up the opening goal less than a minute into the game, responded quickly to tie it, took a lead in the second period, then allowed three quick ones to trail 5-3 after two periods. It was not a memorable night for either goaltender (Joonas Korpisalo for Columbus and Mike Condon for Ottawa) as both allowed six goals through 60 minutes of regulation time, but the Blue Jackets made sure to pick up their goalie and cash their first chance of overtime.

Cam Atkinson's second goal of the game was a breakaway winner in sudden death, capping a 3-1-0 week for the Blue Jackets that saw them play two games each against two clubs, Carolina and Ottawa, who were surging up the standings.

It was just your everyday 7-6 barn burner, if there's such a thing.

"I don't know what to tell you," coach John Tortorella said. "I'm speechless."

Columbus improved to 32-10-4 on the season with 68 points, tied with the Capitals atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings through 46 games. The Blue Jackets have two games remaining this week - on the road against the Islanders and Predators - before taking a breather for the NHL All-Star weekend.

Video: Cam Atkinson on his two goals tonight in Ottawa

Here's what we learned:

WENNY THE WIZARD: Not long ago, Tortorella challenged his top players to raise their game, and he had some concerns about the Saad-Wennberg-Foligno line's performance earlier in the week. They were better in Saturday's win over Carolina (particularly in the third period), and tonight, Wennberg made an impact with a pair of dazzling passes to set up important goals for the Blue Jackets. First, he set up Nick Foligno in front of the net with a pin-point feed to tie the game 1-1, a power play goal that helped settle the Blue Jackets after the Senators' weird opening goal. Then he feathered a pass to Scott Harrington on the left wing, and Harrington sailed a shot through traffic that beat Condon for his first NHL goal. Even better? Harrington, a native of Kingston, Ontario, had his parents in the building to see it. Wennberg finished with three assists, giving him 31 on the season, and was a big factor in the offensive zone all night long.

Video: Atkinson leads Blue Jackets past Sens in 7-6 OT win

A LITTLE BIT OF RESOLVE: Through 40 minutes, the Blue Jackets were hit-and-miss and weren't on their game. In the third period, they wanted to wipe the slate clean and get back to being the team that closes the deal. They wasted little time in erasing a two-goal deficit thanks to goals from Lukas Sedlak (a beautiful breakaway finish) and Matt Calvert (deflection in front) to pull into a 5-5 tie with plenty of game remaining. Atkinson's first of two was a high, floating knuckleball that eluded Condon and gave Columbus a 6-5 lead, but Ottawa came right back on the power play to even it up again. They survived an injury scare to Zach Werenski, who blocked a shot and had to be helped off the ice, but thankfully was able to return later in the third period. They got some stops from Korpisalo down the stretch and got the game to overtime, and Atkinson's awareness enabled him to fly the zone and pick up a loose puck behind the defense after Erik Karlsson missed the net on a chance going the other way.

"We knew we weren't playing well in the first two periods. Our goal in the third period was to go out and play a hard-fought third period," Werenski said. "We didn't really say much (between periods)."

Video: Werenski on battling through injury to win tonight

It's hard to really assess anything in a game like this; Tortorella said he didn't want to dissect the goalie performance or much of the game at all. Considering where they are right now and how they played, he was pleased with the result.

"I thought we were better - certainly not where we still need to get to - but I didn't look at it like it was gonna be this type of game," Tortorella said. "It's happened a lot in the National Hockey League this year, these types of games; as a coach you have to grin and bear it and find a way. I was thrilled that we got the point the way we played defensively."

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