The Blue Jackets' top players are showing signs of waking from their season-long slumber.
Backed by two goals from Cam Atkinson and a goal by captain Nick Foligno, Columbus defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-2 Friday at Nationwide Arena for its franchise record 15th win through 23 games and season-high sixth straight victory - the longest active streak in the NHL.
The first five victories were sparked by goalie Sergei Bobrovsky - who made 24 saves for his sixth straight win -- and depth scoring. This time, with help from both top scorers and role players alike, the Blue Jackets (15-7-1) showed what kind of force they can be when all facets are going in the right direction.
"I was really proud of that," Foligno said. "You see some guys pitch in that haven't, and that's important for our team. You can't rely on the same guys [every game]. You need other guys stepping up, especially the guys that are supposed to, whether you're paid [a lot] to do it or not, you're the core group and we've got to find a way to answer. I was really proud of a lot of guys, in a game that could've gone either way."
Atkinson scored in the first and third periods, including the go-ahead goal to make it 3-2 in the third. Foligno made it 4-2 not long after, and defenseman Markus Nutivaara scored his first goal of the season, in the second period.
Video: OTT@CBJ: Foligno uses speed to tally snap shot
It was tied 2-2 after two periods, but the score wasn't indicative of how much Columbus dominated to that point. The Blue Jackets controlled play in the first 40 minutes, outshooting Ottawa 25-12 and taking 68.4 percent of all shot attempts during 5-on-5 play, but still gave up two goals.
The Senators opened the scoring when Tom Pyatt tapped home a pass from former Blue Jacket center Derick Brassard at 10:56 of the first, and they tied it 2-2 just 1:32 after Columbus took a 2-1 lead on Nutivaara's goal.
Atkinson scored his first goal of the game in the first period, off a breakaway. He tied it,1-1, 26 seconds after Pyatt scored for Ottawa (8-7-6), which has lost five in a row.
In the third, Atkinson responded to his tripping penalty by scoring less than a minute after he was released from the penalty box. Foligno provided a two-goal cushion less than three minutes later, and Motte sealed it.
Here's how it all played out:
Goals: OTT - Tom Pyatt (Derick Brassard, Mark Stone), 10:56; CBJ - Cam Atkinson (unassisted), 11:22
Shots: Blue Jackets 14, Senators 4
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Blue Jackets 80% (24-6), Senators 20% (6-24)
Scoring chances 5v5: Blue Jackets 10, Senators 3
High-Danger chances 5v5: Blue Jackets 3, Senators 2
5:22 - The Blue Jackets got off to a great start to this game, even though they didn't score a goal. Columbus kept the puck in the Ottawa end of the rink, outshot the Senators 7-1 through the first eight minutes and forced Craig Anderson to come up with a good glove save here to keep it scoreless.
Artemi Panarin created a scoring chance with a couple of head fakes before skating toward the high slot and sending a cross-ice feed to Zach Werenski for a one-timer from the right point. Anderson tracked it and gloved it, but nice play all-around.
8:41 - The Blue Jackets' top line of Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Anderson has generated a lot of scoring chances since being put together a couple games ago. A big reason is all three are comfortable in dual-threats roles. Anderson proved it with a great drop pass to Seth Jones, whose wrist shot from the inside half of the right face-off circle gave Ottawa's Anderson some trouble. It was stopped, but it was a good scoring chance.
10:56 - GOAL - Ottawa struck first, which was no small task considering the Blue Jackets had scored first in six straight games and eight of the previous nine. The Senators exited the defensive zone quickly, used a stretch pass from Mark Stone to create a 2-on-1 rush for Brassard and Pyatt.
Brassard sent a perfect saucer pass, meaning the puck hovered over the ice like a flying saucer, to the left side of the net. Pyatt chipped it past Bobrovsky for his fourth goal of the season and 1-0 lead.
The top line was on the ice for Columbus, and lost a draw in the Ottawa zone to start the play.
11:22 - GOAL - The Senators' lead didn't last long, thanks to Atkinson. On the previous shift, prior to Pyatt's goal, Senators forward Alexandre Burrows got into Panarin's face after the two made contact in the Columbus end of the ice.
Burrows factored into Atkinson's goal not long afterward. Atkinson scored his first goal since Oct. 27 off a breakaway on the ensuing shift, after swiping the puck from Burrows in the Blue Jackets' zone. He used a backhand-forehand deke to tie it up 1-1, scoring despite the puck nearly rolling off his stick.
Video: OTT@CBJ: Atkinson beats Anderson on breakaway
18:21 - Ottawa's Erik Karlsson had two shots in the first period. That was exactly half as many as the Senators put on goal as a team in the first 20 minutes. His second was taken with 1:39 left, when he scooped the puck in the neutral zone, skated it over the line and set himself up in the slot for a wrist shot Bobrovsky fought off.
It was Ottawa's final shot in the period. The Senators were outshot 14-4 to start the game, which was one of the better periods of the season for Columbus.
QUOTE: "I thought we played as fast as we've played in a while. The guys really bought into the facts, as I [said] before the game, 'Let's just get it in [the offensive zone] first, because of [Ottawa] trying to clog up the neutral zone. I thought we did a really good job of that." - Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, on his team's strong forecheck in the first period.
Goals: OTT - Mike Hoffman (Ryan Dzingel), 9:00; CBJ - Markus Nutivaara (Josh Anderson, Ryan Murray), 7:28
Shots: Blue Jackets 10, Senators 8
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Blue Jackets 53.8% (14-12), Senators 46.2% (12-14),
Scoring chances 5v5: Blue Jackets 6, Senators 4
High-Danger chances 5v5: Blue Jackets 4, Senators 2
0:26 - There was no easing into this period. The Senators forced the issue right away, nearly scoring off back-to-back shots and drawing a hooking penalty on Brandon Dubinsky.
Stone put the initial shot on net, Pyatt got a shot off the rebound and that's when things got a little hair-raising. The puck bounced off Boone Jenner's right leg, behind Bobrovsky, and nearly went into the net. Instead, it dropped on the goal line, where Jenner cleared it to stop play.
The play was called a goal on the ice, but a review overturned it. The Jackets then killed off the Senators' power play, nearly scoring shorthanded. Big momentum swing.
4:59 - Ottawa's Ryan Dzingel was called for slashing, giving Columbus its first power play. The Blue Jackets entered the game with just one power-play goal in their previous nine games (1-for-21), and didn't score on this one either. However, they did take the lead shortly after it ended.
7:28 - GOAL - The Blue Jackets' Anderson picked up an assist setting up a teammate for another shot. This time, he skated the puck around the net and slid a pass to defenseman Markus Nutivaara for a shot from the left point. The puck went into the net past a screen in front by Tyler Motte.
Video: OTT@CBJ: Nutivaara finds twine on shot from blue line
Ottawa called for a coach's challenge to check for goaltender interference, but the goal was upheld. It was Nutivaara's first goal and ninth point of the season - another secondary scorer helping the Blue Jackets offensively.
QUOTE: "I saw [Anderson] going with a lot of speed, so when he's got the speed, nobody can stop him. I just waited for the pass from [him] if he goes around the net, and then the pass came. I just tried to shoot it on net, and there was Motte, I think, trying to get a push, and [Lukas Sedlak] was there. So, there was a good screen." - Nutivaara, on his goal.
9:00 - GOAL - The Blue Jackets couldn't hold their lead long either. Prior to the game, Columbus coach John Tortorella was wary of turnovers caused by the Senators' forecheck. This goal was a great example why.
Panarin bobbled the puck at Columbus blue line, Dzingel hopped on it and slid a quick feed to Hoffman for a great scoring chance. Hoffman broke in alone against Bobrovsky and flipped a quick wrist shot over the glove to tie it 2-2 on his eighth goal of the season.
14:22 - The period came to a close with each side trading power-play opportunities, but no more goals.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau was called for slashing Columbus captain Nick Foligno for the first one, which again led to nothing for the Blue Jackets - who were actually outshot 1-0 during the man-advantage. Dubois was called for hooking Stone 23 seconds after Pageau got out of the box.
It was a good penalty to take, because Stone would've had a great scoring chance had Dubois not impeded his rush to the net. The Jackets blocked three shots during the power play, allowing just one shot to get to Bobrovsky - and he stopped it.
Goals: OTT- None; CBJ - Atkinson (David Savard), 10:40; Foligno (Sonny Milano), 13:27; Tyler Motte (Oliver Bjorkstrand, Lukas Sedlak), 19:10
Shots: Blue Jackets 14, Senators 7
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Senators 60.7% (17-11), Blue Jackets 39.3% (11-17)
Scoring chances 5v5: Senators 5, Blue Jackets 3
High-Danger chances 5v5: Senators 2, Blue Jackets 1
Overall Corsi: Blue Jackets 58.8% (50-35), Senators 41.2% (35-50)
Overall 5v5 Scoring chances: Blue Jackets 19, Senators 12
Overall High-Danger chances: Blue Jackets 8, Senators 6
1:04 - There might be goalies who are better using their stick outside the crease, but there is none better than Bobrovsky at using his stick in the blue paint.
He threw it aside to make a great blocker save in Montreal, used it for a quick poke check to clear a rebound against Calgary, and denied another chance with it against Ottawa.
This time Bobrovsky sent his paddle along the ice toward a rebound, and watched it hit the puck before Dzingel could attempt a shot. Dzingel's eventual shot then hit the stick and sent the puck underneath, instead of over, Bobrovsky.
7:59 - Sonny Milano fired a wicked backhand toward the Senators' net, but it sailed high and wide. It bounced off the glass and led to a near breakaway for Pageau the other way. Atkinson, who had the puck bounce over his stick at the Senators' blue line, was called for tripping Pageau.
QUOTE: "It's one of those things where it was a bad penalty by me, but knowing that our [penalty-kill] is pretty solid, I had all the faith in the world they would kill it off for me." - Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson.
Ottawa forced Bobrovsky to make four saves on its man-advantage, but the Jackets killed it off to spring Atkinson from the penalty box.
QUOTE: "Really important penalty kill. Our goaltender was a big part of that, and I thought we fed off of it." - Tortorella
10:40 - GOAL - It took 41 seconds for Atkinson to score his second of the game, putting the Blue Jackets up 3-2. Ottawa's Matt Duchene was unable to clear the zone on two separate occasions after the penalty expired, and the second one - in which Motte stapled Duchene to the boards - led to the goal.
Video: OTT@CBJ: Atkinson lasers home his second tally
David Savard held the puck in at the right point, sent a nice pass to Atkinson on the left wing and he ripped it past Anderson for his sixth goal of the season.
QUOTE: "It felt like I hadbn't scored a goal in a couple years, but it was good. It's good to contribute. That's my game. It's nice to be a part of it, and get back to my way of playing." - Atkinson, on his two-goal game.
13:27 - GOAL - This is what it looks like when the Blue Jackets' big guns get going. Tortorella made a slight tweak to Foligno's line in the third, adding Atkinson to the right side of it, and it led to a big insurance goal.
Rookie Sonny Milano started the play with a nice exit pass to Foligno going up the left wing. He skated it into the Senators' zone, while Atkinson skated to the net on the right side of the ice. Anderson had to worry about a pass to Atkinson, and Foligno beat him with a great snap shot for his second point in as many game and first goal in 13 games.
QUOTE: "I needed this more than Cam. Actually the worst part was I was looking to pass the whole time, and somebody in my head was just like, 'If you pass this, and it doesn't go through, they're going to kill you [on the bench], so you'd better shoot this. I just saw the top corner was kind of open. So, sorry Cam, but I'll take that one. I'll give you a hat trick another game." - Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno, on his goal that ended a 13-game goal-less stretch.
19:10 - GOAL - A day after having his parents down from Michigan to celebrate Thanksgiving, Motte put the icing on the cake with his third goal of the season. The second-year forward put the capper on the Jackets' victory by scoring into an empty net, after receiving a pass from Oliver Bjorkstrand in the neutral zone. Stone laid out to block his shot, but Motte lifted it over him and put his shot right on target from the left wing.
(All times ET)
Senators: Host the New York Islanders on Saturday (7 p.m., TV: CITY, MSG+, NHL.TV)
Blue Jackets: At the Montreal Canadiens on Monday (7:30 p.m., FS-O, Fox Sports Go; Radio: 97.1 FM, BlueJackets.com, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV)