NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Artemi Panarin was the perfect setup man Friday night.
The 26-year-old forward had a record-tying performance with five primary assists, leading the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils and a split of their home-and-home series.
Panarin dominated throughout and equaled the club mark for assists set by Espen Knutsen against Calgary on March 24, 2001. The five points also tied the Blue Jackets’ mark for a single game, accomplished for the fifth time.
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”I’m very happy. However, I try to keep my emotions in check,” Panarin said. ”Tomorrow’s another game and I know this is just a sport and sometimes you do the same and it doesn’t result in a goal.”
Panarin’s big night helped the Blue Jackets regain a share of the Metropolitan Division lead with Washington. Both teams have 37 points in a crowded race, one more than New Jersey.
After losing 4-1 to the Devils in Columbus on Tuesday, the Blue Jackets gained a measure of revenge while also snapping a two-game skid.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Lukas Sedlak, Scott Harrington, Alexander Wennberg and Zach Werenski scored for Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky made 21 saves.
”He’s a special player, for sure,” Harrington said about Panarin. ”He makes a lot of plays that other guys wouldn’t think of doing. He’s been great for us all year and he’s pretty underrated how hard he works in the defensive zone and how tough he is on the puck. We needed a spark and he did that for us.”
Brian Boyle, Marcus Johansson and Blake Coleman had the New Jersey goals. Cory Schneider stopped 23 shots.
Panarin set up Wennberg for a power-play goal 1:32 into the third period to snap a 3-all tie.
The Devils had a great opportunity to pull even but could not convert on a four-minute power play after Markus Hannikainen high-sticked Nico Hischier midway through the third.
Werenski gave Columbus a 5-3 lead at 15:02 with his ninth goal, which leads NHL defensemen.
Panarin set up all three Columbus goals in the second period as the Blue Jackets erased a 2-0 deficit.
Unlike the first period, the Blue Jackets were the hungrier team in the second.
”In the second period we knew we had to step it up and we were able to score,” Panarin said. ”We found confidence and made it a little easier.”
Dubois got Columbus on the board at 2:29, snapping the puck past Schneider’s blocker.
Panarin picked off a clearing attempt by Devils defenseman Andy Greene and fed Sedlak for the equalizer at 5:44.
Harrington put Columbus up 3-2 at 14:13 with a shot from the left point following a cross-ice feed from Panarin.
Coleman pulled the Devils even at 3 with 19.9 seconds left in the period.
The Devils forechecked well to start the game and the pressure paid off with goals by Boyle and Johansson for a 2-0 lead.
Boyle, left wide open in the slot, got it started at 8:29. The goal was set up by a backhand pass from Jimmy Hayes, who was positioned behind the Blue Jackets net.
It was Boyle’s fourth goal in the last seven games.
Johansson got the second goal on a wraparound, tucking the puck inside the right post before Bobrovsky could slide across at 14:10.
Johansson had not scored since Oct. 19, having missed 13 games in between with a concussion.
The 2-0 lead rapidly vanished in the second period.
”I think we got a little fragile,” Boyle said. ”We gave up a goal and then strayed a bit from our game plan. We can learn something from this. You can’t be as fragile as that.”
NOTES: Taylor Hall played his 100th game for New Jersey. . Devils LW Kyle Palmieri has resumed skating. He missed an eighth straight game with a broken right foot. . Backup goalie Keith Kinkaid is expected to start Saturday for the Devils when they play the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. … Columbus made two lineup changes: Markus Nutivaara replaced Gabriel Carlsson on defense, and Hannikainen took Tyler Motte’s spot up front. … It was ”Star Wars” Night at the Prudential Center, with several characters from the movie series roaming the concourses.
Blue Jackets: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.