Atkinson scores twice, Blue Jackets beat Golden Knights 4-3
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Josh Anderson and Artemi Panarin also scored for Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves.
Nate Schmidt, Jon Merrill and Cody Eakin scored for Vegas, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves. The Golden Knights dropped to 16-7-3 at home.
The Blue Jackets, who are in third place in the Metropolitan Division at 31-20-3 (65 points), two points behind Washington with a game in hand, completed a three-game Western Conference sweep after winning at Colorado and Arizona.
Moments after using his speed to get past Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb, collect a rebound off Fleury and score an equalizer that tied the game at 3-all, Atkinson scored the game-winner on a power play against the league’s top home penalty kill when he fired a shot over Fleury’s arm.
Columbus opened the scoring four minutes into the game when All-Star Seth Jones fired a shot Josh Anderson was able to get a stick on and that deflected off Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore’s skate and past Fleury.
The lead wouldn’t last long, though, as Schmidt matched his career high with his fifth goal of the season 32 seconds later. On the play, his centering pass ricocheted off of Columbus center Pierre-Luc Dubois and past Bobrovsky. Jonathan Marchessault was credited with the first assist, the 100th of his career.
Later, during a penalty kill, Golden Knights first-line wing Reilly Smith streaked into the offensive zone with William Karlsson to his right. But when Karlsson couldn’t convert and his shot caromed off the post, Merrill was there and punched home his second goal of the season to put Vegas in front 2-1.
Vegas is tied for third in the league with seven short-handed goals.
Columbus tied the game late in the second period when Fleury was caught behind the net trying to stop the puck along the boards. Instead, the puck took a wild bounce directly to Panarin, who fired it into an empty net. It was Panarin’s team-leading 61st point of the season.
Eakin gave Vegas a brief 3-2 lead when he raced into the offensive zone, collected a pretty cross-ice pass from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and scored past Bobrovsky with 10:39 left. It was Eakin’s 15th goal of the season and third game-winning goal of the campaign.
NOTES: Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky missed his second consecutive game due to a hip injury and remains one game shy of playing in his 800th career game. … Right wing Cam Atkinson played in his 499th career game, all with Columbus. … The Golden Knights tied a season low for shots on goal in one period, with just three in the second. Vegas also had three in third period on Nov. 21 at Arizona.
Columbus: Hosts Washington on Tuesday.
Vegas: Hosts Arizona on Tuesday.