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Postgame Hat Trick: Duchene debut highlights win at Ottawa

Columbus gets back on the right track with shutout

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

What a day that was in Columbus Blue Jackets land. 

Let's do it all over again Saturday, eh? 

The Blue Jackets traded for Matt Duchene and put him in their lineup in the span of just a few hours Friday, and the blockbuster deal paid immediate dividends as Duchene helped Columbus snap a two-game losing streak at hapless Ottawa. 

The 3-0 victory over Duchene's former teammates wasn't exactly a thing of beauty, but it was just what the doctor ordered for a team that woke up on the wrong side of the playoff bar and returned to Columbus on the right side of it. But the next challenge on Saturday afternoon vs. San Jose won't be easy.  

Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves here. Three thoughts on Duchene's first game as a Blue Jacket follow. 

Video: Torts about his new options

1. Duchene's debut: He didn't score but he sure came close, as Duchene hit the post off a nice feed about four minutes into his Columbus debut. 

Playing in front of his wife, young son and parents, he finished with 19:11 of ice time, won 9 of 17 faceoffs and had three shots turned aside by former Ottawa teammate Craig Anderson. Duchene also played on the Jackets' top power-play unit, though the man advantage finished 0-for-4. 

There were certainly times, though, when the power play looked quite dangerous and flashed good puck movement, a narrative that extended to the line Duchene centered at 5-on-5 with Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson on the flanks. 

"It was fun," Duchene said. "I thought the fact that we didn't get one 5-on-5 was crazy. I thought we did a lot of good things." 

Video: Duchene after his CBJ debut

It looked like both on the power play and on his line that the Jackets were just a tick away from doing some great things. Speaking after the game, Atkinson pointed out that both Duchene and Panarin had missed their previous games, so that extra smidge of rust might have played a part. 

Everyone involved, though, thinks some really good things are about to happen with Duchene on the squad. 

"I think we did some good things," Atkinson said. "I don't think we were a liability by any means. I don't think they had any chances when we were on the ice for the most part. You can tell (Panarin and Duchene) obviously have skill. We just have to play a little more north-south, and I think that's when we got a lot of our chances.  

"We kept saying, we were talking about how many opportunities we actually had, how many shots, and those are going to go in." 

2. Lineup shuffle: When the trade was made Friday afternoon, there was a question of how the lines would shake out with Duchene in the mix. 

He adds a two-way center the team sorely needed, and Duchene's arrival certainly gives John Tortorella some options. The head coach chose to put Duchene on the first line and move down Pierre-Luc Dubois in order to keep Boone Jenner on his line with Nick Foligno and Josh Anderson. 

That left Alexander Wennberg as the odd man out, and for the first time all year No. 10 was a healthy scratch. If it came down to Wennberg and Riley Nash, Tortorella pointed out that Nash's line of late has been strong, and to be fair, Wennberg isn't necessarily the aggressive fourth-line presence Nash has become over the past handful of games. 

"It got crowded," Tortorella said. "I think Nasher's line has been playing very well. We put (Eric Robinson) there tonight and they had a number of chances tonight. I am certainly not going to forget about Wenny. I did miss him on the penalty kill because I thought a lot of guys that kill penalties took penalties, so we certainly missed him there.  

"Those are the decisions I'm going to have to make. We'll see where we go with it from game to game." 

As Tortorella alluded to, there's flexibility now. 

3. A team effort: Going up and down the lineup, you could find valuable contributions. 

The fourth line of Nash, Robinson and Brandon Dubinsky certainly showed up, as it seemed like the puck stayed in the offensive zone each time that line was on the ice. At 5-on-5, per Natural Stat Trick, the scoring chances were 9-2 with the three on the ice, including a 4-1 edge in high-danger chances. (Nash also hit the post on a deflection in the second period.) 

Then there was defenseman David Savard. The veteran was omnipresent, finishing with a team-high-tying seven (!) shots on goal, plus four hits and a plus-2 rating in 20:30. At 5-on-5, per Natural Stat Trick, the Jackets had a 25-10 edge in shots attempted, a 16-6 edge in scoring chances, and an 8-1 advantage in high-danger chances with Savard on the ice.  

Staying defensively, the third pairing of Scott Harrington and Dean Kukan was also solid, and who could forget Sergei Bobrovsky? The goalie turned in his fourth shutout of the year, and while the ledger shows just 22 saves, he was big when he had to be, including snagging a 3-on-1 chance in the first period. Bobrovsky has now given up just 16 goals in his last eight starts, including two blankings. 

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