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Blue Jackets use shootout to extend win streak

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- Cam Atkinson knew scoring in a shootout wasn't going to come easily against the winningest goaltender in NHL history.

But the 24-year-old did just that when he slid the puck between the pads of Martin Brodeur in the third round of the tiebreaker to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 win against the New Jersey Devils on Friday at Prudential Center.

"Marty is an MVP, Hall of Fame goalie, so it's going to be hard to score on goals on him any given night," Atkinson said. "We were lucky to get one early [in the first period] and kind of stuck with it and then weathered the storm in the third."

Atkinson said he watched how Brodeur reacted to the previous two Columbus shooters, Mark Letestu and Ryan Johansen, before making his approach.

"It seemed like he was coming out pretty far, and while I can shoot, I like to deke," he said. "I saw the opening and went five-hole and luckily it went in."

The Blue Jackets, who have beaten the Devils three times in 2013-14, improved to 2-1 in shootouts; the Devils fell to 0-6. New Jersey has scored once (Reid Boucher) in 20 opportunities.

"It's not hard to figure out what our problem is in the shootout; we've scored just once," Devils forward Jaromir Jagr said.

Brodeur, who made 29 saves through 65 minutes, was asked what the solution is to winning in the shootout.

"Win in regulation … that's the solution," he said.

Blue Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney, who made 16 saves, stopped Jagr, Ryane Clowe and Patrik Elias in the shootout before Atkinson scored in the third round for his team. Jagr was stopped for the second time this season and Elias for the fourth time. Clowe, who was playing in his first game since sustaining a concussion on Oct. 13, is 0-for-3.

"[Jagr] made a ton of moves in tight, and while a poke check isn't a move I like to use often, I got a leg on it and he wasn't able to get it up," McElhinney said. "Against Clowe, I just kind of had a feeling for a low shot just by the angle he took and the type of player he is."

Adam Henrique scored 5:45 into the third period, his first goal in 13 games, to pull the Devils into a 1-1 tie. Marek Zidlicky entered the Columbus zone down his right wing before sliding a pass in the slot to Elias. He deftly directed a shot on McElhinney and the rebound skittered to Henrique, who was crashing the crease from the left hash.

"It was nice to finally get one," Henrique said. "I don't know [why we're struggling in shootouts]. It hasn't been our friend and it's tough to give up those extra points."

Henrique's goal came minutes after the Devils denied the Blue Jackets on a two-man advantage for 58 seconds with Andrei Loktionov (holding) and Travis Zajac (hooking) serving penalties.

The victory was the third straight for the Blue Jackets (17-17-4, 38 points), who are even in points with the Devils (15-16-8, 38 points) but are fourth in the Metropolitan Division. Columbus returns to Nationwide Arena to face the Eastern Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday before a four-game road swing.

The Devils, who visit the New York Islanders on Saturday, have lost two straight and are 1-2-1 in their past four. New Jersey will play five of its next seven games at Prudential Center.

"I felt good; it was one of those games where you have to keep the score low and get a break, but you want to win," Brodeur said. "You're not going to win many games with nine shots after two periods. It's a big point, but it's more important to win games against teams close to you in the standings."

McElhinney's best save in the second period came at 6:15 with the Blue Jackets on the penalty kill. Zidlicky received a pass in the left circle and unleashed a slap shot from 30 feet that the goalie calmly turned away with his right pad. It was the last of four saves he made in the second as the Columbus defense held the Devils without a shot over the final 13:45 of the period.

Brodeur was called upon to make 10 saves in the second to keep the Devils within striking distance. His best stop came at 1:24 when he denied Atkinson on a breakaway when he flared his right pad.

"Our goalie gave us a chance to hang around, but it was probably the just result," coach Peter DeBoer said.

The chants of "Marty! Marty!" continued in the third when he denied Fedor Tyutin's quick snap shot with the right pad to keep the game even at 10:35. Brodeur made nine saves in the period.

The Blue Jackets, who appeared sharper and more mentally focused from the start, took a 1-0 lead in the first period when Artem Anisimov scored his 11th of the season at 7:34. Atkinson made the play happen with a strong move down his right wing before feathering a pass to Brandon Dubinsky in the slot. Brodeur stopped Dubinsky's attempt with his right pad but Anisimov knocked in the rebound off his backhand while being closely guarded by Steve Bernier.

"It's a big two points and I liked the way that we played," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "I thought we managed, I thought we played hard from the start to the finish. They're a good team and they're going to get their opportunities; they had their opportunities and Curtis made some saves for us. As far as a 60-plus minute effort, we probably got efforts from everyone."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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