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Postgame Hat Trick: Blue Jackets post huge win in Vegas

Columbus finishes 3-0 road trip by coming back to beat Golden Knights

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

John Tortorella said it a few times: His team should feel good about itself after coming from behind to beat the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night. 

Instead, at least for a second after the game, Nick Foligno was tired. 

The Blue Jackets captain, who made a crucial shot block in the final 20 seconds, was exhausted after hepling shepherd home the 4-3 victory, choosing to do his postgame interview seated in front of his stall rather than stand up.  

It was a gutty, gritty win, with Columbus going into one of the NHL's toughest buildings and leaving with the victory.

Video: Condensed Game: Blue Jackets @ Golden Knights

Here are three takeaways from the victory, which closed a 3-0 Western Conference road trip for the Blue Jackets. 

Perfect Finish: Let's just start there. The Blue Jackets return home Sunday morning with a perfect record on the trip, and though the team's game wasn't always perfect, getting three big wins against Western foes after arriving in Denver with a five-game losing skid was crucial considering how tight the playoff race has become. 

"The team should be happy," Tortorella said. "We talked about (Tuesday's win at) Colorado, I don't think we played a lot of minutes. We played more minutes in Phoenix (in Thursday's victory at Arizona), and we probably played more good minutes than in quite a while. Hopefully we get out of here tomorrow and try to keep it going." 

That will be crucial as the Blue Jackets, who are third in the Metropolitan Division, face the top two teams in the division coming up. Defending Stanley Cup champion Washington comes to Columbus on Tuesday with 67 points, two more than the Jackets, while the division-leading New York Islanders (70 points) beckon Thursday at Nationwide Arena. 

But for now, Columbus will fly home with a smile on its face.  

"This was a big road trip," Foligno said. "Three good teams, and it's a hard trip, too, the way it set up and going against the time zones and playing later and later. It was big for us to find points, and I liked that we saved our best game for last. And we needed to against a really good team. We go back with a lot of confidence knowing that we have a huge test at home against two really good teams again." 

First Line Responds: Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson have been huge all season for the Blue Jackets, but the three didn't play in the final 10 minutes of Thursday's win against the Coyotes as Tortorella chose to go with the three lines that were playing the best game. 

The response, then, against Vegas was palpable. Panarin continued what has become a season-long tear with a goal and two assists, while Atkinson buried the tying and winning goals to get to 31 tallies on the year and Dubois had an assist to give the line a combined six points. 

It was a pretty good guess that the Jackets' top line would rebound from how things went in Arizona, but it was also rewarding for the three to actually make it happen. 

"I think the first two periods, we were working hard, kind of chasing it a little bit," Atkinson said. "We didn't really get many opportunities until the end of the second, kind of. Third period, we had our best when we needed to. We stuck with it and buried our opportunities." 

Viva: We'll just let Atkinson, who missed last year's first-ever CBJ game at Vegas with an injury, tell you what it's like to play in one of the most energetic buildings in the NHL. 

"What an atmosphere," he said. "If you can't get up for this game … the bench is frickin' going bananas. You can't even control yourself. It's a pretty special place, obviously, and a very good team on that side." 

Vegas has clearly fallen in love with the Golden Knights, the city's first pro team in the major four sports and a squad that thrilled the area last year with a magical Stanley Cup Finals run. Even on the Las Vegas Strip, which runs just outside T-Mobile Arena, perhaps one of the most tourism-centric spots on planet Earth is filled with Golden Knights logos and paraphernalia.  

The love has been returned by the team, which won 29 of its 41 home games in its inaugural season and was 16-6-3 at home this season before being defeated by the Jackets. 

"This is a great building," Tortorella said. "It's fantastic. I'm not crazy about the city and all the noise out there, but the building, they do it right and they have a good team. Our guys should feel good. They just beat a real good hockey club." 

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