Blue Jackets blank Devils for 4th straight win

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — When Taylor Hall was asked in the offseason who is the toughest goalie to play against, he’d say Sergei Bobrovsky.

Maybe he’s just that for the Devils, or maybe he actually is. This season, it’s been a combination of both.

Bobrovsky made 39 saves, Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the New Jersey Devils 3-0 on Sunday for their fourth consecutive victory.

It was the second shutout of the season for Bobrosky, the 26th of his career and third against the Devils.

“I don’t know if it’s just like us he plays like that.” Hall said. “You have to have perfect shots and it doesn’t seem like any goal is ever his fault. He’s either getting screened or a backdoor tap or whatever. Like you said, we had some really good chances. Sustained pressure, second chances, chances in tight. I don’t know what there is to do other than that.”

Cam Atkinson and Oliver Bjorkstrand added first-period goals for the Blue Jackets, who trail first-place Washington by two points in the Metropolitan Division going into the league’s holiday break.

“It’s always good to get the first one, especially in the away barn,” Atkinson said. “We knew we’d see their best and to feel good right away, it’s good for us. We can enjoy this and get a little bit of a rest here and be ready for the Rangers.”

Atkinson opened the scoring at 4:03 of the first period on the Blue Jackets’ first shot of the game when he took a pass from Panarin and sent it past Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid for his 23rd goal of the season.

Bjorkstrand made it 2-0 just 1:28 later when he converted a pass from Alexander Wennberg for his fourth goal of the season.

Kinkaid gave up a fast-break goal by Panarin to put the Blue Jackets up 3-0 midway through the second period. Panarin stole the puck from Taylor Hall in the neutral zone, and the goal got Kinkaid (eight saves) pulled for Mackenzie Blackwood.

The Devils had a two-man advantage late in the second period but were unable to score.

Their victory win Friday — which included a five-goal outburst — was just their fourth in their last 17 games. Blackwood had nine saves in a period and a half of play on Sunday.

“He played well the first game and he came in and he played pretty well and he’s going to get some serious looks here after break,” Devils coach John Hynes said.

NOTES: The Blue Jackets also beat the Devils last Thursday in Columbus. … The Devils wore their heritage jerseys. … Stefan Noesen, Egor Yakovlev and Mirco Mueller were scratches for the Devils while Sonny Milano, Dean Kukan and Lukas Sedlak were scratches for the Blue Jackets.

UP NEXT

Blue Jackets: At Rangers on Thursday night.

Devils: At Boston Bruins on Thursday night.