Rusty Miller AP Sports Writer
January 11, 2014
COLUMBUS — Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves and Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets past Carolina 3-0 on Friday night, ending the Hurricanes’ season-best five-game winning streak.
Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky also scored for the Blue Jackets, who have won three of four.
Playing his first game in front of the home fans after missing the first 40 games due to shoulder surgery, offseason free-agent acquisition Nathan Horton contributed with a first-period hit that led to Jenner’s goal.
The teams came in separated by five points in the Metropolitan Division, with the Hurricanes tied for fourth and the Blue Jackets in seventh.
Bobrovsky, who picked up his second shutout of the season, was making his first start at home in more than a month. He missed 14 games with a strained groin before winning at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers, 4-3 in a shootout, on Monday night.
Last year’s Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goalie was in fine form. He stopped Elias Lindholm twice on jam shots at the corner post during more than a minute of a 5-on-3 for Carolina in the third period. While the Hurricanes were pressing on the remaining power play, he gloved a hard shot from the high slot by Zach Boychuk — and held his glove high in the air for several seconds while a crowd of 16,008 roared.
Meanwhile, Carolina’s Anton Khudobin had been the hottest goalie in the league. He came in with a record of 6-0-0 with a 1.84 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. He had allowed two or fewer goals in six of his seven games — then gave up two in the first period.
Horton’s hit forced the first goal. The Hurricanes’ Brett Sutter gathered a loose puck in the corner but Horton made contact with him, forcing him to give up the puck to Jenner. The rookie was all alone in the slot and went high on the stick side of Khudobin for his sixth goal of the year at the 15-minute mark.
Just 70 seconds later, the Blue Jackets struck again. This time Atkinson carried the puck through the neutral zone and then slid a pass to Dubinsky on the left wing. His rising shot from the left dot beat Khudobin inside the far post. It was Dubinsky’s ninth of the year.
Atkinson had also saved a goal when he got a stick on Jeff Skinner’s wraparound midway through the first 20 minutes.
He then picked up a goal of his own at 5:54 of the third when he took a feed from Mark Letestu and found the net from the left hash for his 12th goal.
Bobrovsky had two spectacular saves in the scoreless second period.
Alexander Semin’s redirect from point-blank range was forced wide off Bobrovsky’s left pad. Three minutes later, Bobrovsky gloved Lindholm’s one-timer from the slot.
The lack of offense by the Hurricanes was a surprise, even though they were playing the second of a back-to-back.
On Thursday night, they won 6-1 at Toronto, with Jordan Staal piling up four points, Lindholm tying his career high with three points and Jeff Skinner scoring his 17th goal in his last 17 games and extending his point streak to a career-high six games.
It was the most goals the Hurricanes had scored all season.
But Bobrovsky stifled everything that came at him, capping the shutout with a sprawling glove save on Nathan Gerbe with just over 2 minutes left.
NOTES: Columbus C Derek MacKenzie was sitting out the final game of a three-game suspension for boarding Phoenix’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson. … It was the second of five meetings this season, with the Blue Jackets winning on Dec. 23 in Raleigh, 4-3. … The Blue Jackets improved to 9-6-0 against Carolina, including 5-2-0 at home. … The teams have never gone to overtime in their 15 games. … Former Stanley Cup-winning goalie Cam Ward missed his fifth straight game for the Hurricanes with a lower-body injury.