“I’ve imagined it since I got traded here, and it was nothing short of perfect.”
That’s how Scott Hartnell described his first game at Nationwide Arena as a member of the Blue Jackets, and it was a memorable opener on many fronts. To summarize: Columbus raced out to an early 2-0 lead, tacked on a couple insurance markers and withstood a few furious charges from the New York Rangers to record a 5-2 win in front of 18,922 in the friendly confines.
And right from the get-go, there was a jump in the building and a jump in the step of the guys wearing union blue.
BLUE JACKETS 5 | RANGERS 2
Artem Anisimov joined the play off the bench and wired a slap shot past Rangers goalie Cam Talbot at 6:24 of the first period, sending a jolt through the crowd and giving the Blue Jackets a deserved 1-0 lead early in the game. Nick Foligno made it 2-0 late in the period on a ridiculous individual effort, fighting through a check and scoring on his own rebound while nearly laying flat on the ice.
The Rangers had a push-back in the second period and cut the lead in half on a goal from Lee Stempniak, making it a 2-1 game only 5:43 in the middle frame. The Blue Jackets had an answer of their own and they got a big goal from one of their top lines, as the Foligno-Johansen-Atkinson trio combined on a nifty play to push the lead back to two.
Johansen saved the puck up high, flipped a shot toward the net that was tipped by Foligno right to Atkinson in front of the net, and he chopped it over the line for a 3-1 Columbus lead at 9:49 of the second period.
Marko Dano’s first NHL goal was a huge goal in the final outcome, boosting the Blue Jackets ahead 4-1 with 6:13 to play and giving them a little breathing room down the stretch.
“It was a special moment,” Dano said of his goal. "Just...awesome."
Making it even more special? The fact that his father and girlfriend were here to see it.
Atkinson’s second goal of the night - and third of the season - was an empty-netter with 1:21 to play.
With the score 3-1 favoring Columbus and the Rangers charging late in the second period, Sergei Bobrovsky brought the entire crowd to its feet with an unbelievable save.
Rick Nash (who received a warm welcome with each touch of the puck) broke in on a 2-on-1 with Martin St. Louis, and rather than shoot, fed St. Louis with a perfect pass and what seemed like a wide-open net.
Bobrovsky lunged across and got the right pad on St. Louis’ shot, creating one of several standing ovations from the sold-out crowd.
1) Foligno (CBJ) - A goal, an assist and four shots in another terrific performance alongside Johansen and Atkinson.
2) Dano (CBJ) - First NHL goal, family in the house…doesn’t get much better, does it?
3) Atkinson (CBJ) - Two goals, five shots and another impactful offensive performance.
vs. Dallas Stars
Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET