The Columbus Blue Jackets needed a forward that could take over a game.
They got one in Artemi Panarin and after making a huge impact during the regular season, he helped lift the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 overtime win on Thursday night against the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
After Seth Jones scored on a power play late in the third period to send the game to overtime, Panarin scored the game-winner by completing an incredible rush where he blew past Dmitry Orlov and then casually roofed a shot under the crossbar, beating Capitals goalie Phillip Grubauer from a sharp angle.
You can see it in the video above.
Columbus’ acquisition of Panarin was one of the great moves of the offseason.
For as good as the Blue Jackets offense was a season ago (they finished sixth in the NHL in goals scored) they still lacked a go-to-forward that could be a difference-maker. A player that other teams had to constantly worry about every time he was on the ice.
Panarin has been all of that and so much more.
In his first season with the Blue Jackets he showed that his production the past two years in Chicago was not simply the result of playing alongside Patrick Kane (if anything, it seems now that Panarin seemed to help elevate Kane). He set career highs in assists (55) and total points (82) and was one of the most dominant possession-driving forwards in the NHL, finishing the regular season with a 57 percent Corsi rating (also the best mark of his career).
In his first playoff game with his new team he scored a goal (the game-winner), picked up an assist, and was a 63 percent Corsi player (26 shot attempts for; only 15 against for the Blue Jackets with him on the ice during 5-on-5 play).
In other words, another dominant night.
The Blue Jackets had to overcome an early two-goal deficit, and then another deficit late in the third period, to get the win.
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