The Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens played the front end of their back-to-back, home-and-home set at Nationwide Arena on Monday night. Cam Atkinson's third career hat trick paced the Columbus offense, but don't forget about Brandon Saad, who scored twice to move into the team's goal-scoring lead (18).
Immediately following the game, both teams boarded their respective flights en route to Montreal. The two teams will close out their 2015-16 season series on Tuesday night at Bell Centre, the third of three meetings this season and second in as many nights.
For the Blue Jackets, it's expected that Anton Forsberg will start in goal after Joonas Korpisalo made 32 saves in Monday night's victory. Neither team is expected to hold a morning skate.
For those of you who missed it, here’s what happened last night:
Brendan Gallagher opened the scoring for the Canadiens at 10:39 of the first period. But, less than five minutes later, Cam Atkinson scored his first of three and tied the game, 1-1.
At 2:52 of the second period, Atkinson notched his second, giving the home team a 2-1 lead early in the frame. Montreal’s P.K. Subban scored at 8:36 of the second to level the score - but that was the last goal the Canadiens would score thanks to Korpisalo's strong play.
NHL All-Star Brandon Saad broke the tie at 9:06 of the third period with his 17th goal of the season, and then added on at 18:48 of the frame with an empty-netter.
Atkinson’s third goal of the evening came at 19:35 of the third, putting the game away in a 5-2 final at Nationwide Arena.
Only one more game stands between Brandon Saad and the NHL All-Star Weekend of his career. Saad said about half a dozen of his friends and family will travel with him to Nashville to enjoy the festivities.
The 22-year-old earned his spot on the All-Star roster by putting up some serious numbers (out-pacing his previous career best) at the start of the 2015-16 season. In 48 games, he’s scored 18 goals and added 16 assists for 34 points, leading the Blue Jackets in both goals and points.
He's found chemistry with Alexander Wennberg at center, and lately, those two have been reunited with Scott Hartnell to form one of the Blue Jackets' most effective offensive trios.