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Jackets dust Caps for fifth straight win

The SportsXchange

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Outside of the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins, the NHL's Metropolitan Division looks like a 5 p.m. traffic jam. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals are currently headed in different directions.

Right winger Cam Atkinson scored two goals, including one of the Blue Jackets' two power play goals, and Columbus continued its midseason turnaround, routing the Capitals 5-1 before 14,121 in Nationwide Arena.

"When our lines are going like this -- every line is playing the same -- it seems like a pretty simple game," Atkinson said. "We've got checking lines that score and scoring lines that check, however you want to look at it. But when it's going good, we're a hard team to play."

The Blue Jackets have won a season-long five straight games. The Capitals have lost 11 of their last 15 games.

The win kept Columbus in sixth place in the Metropolitan, but only four points separate seventh-place Carolina (49) and second-place Philadelphia (53). The Penguins, with 70 points, can almost already count on the banner.

Defenseman James Wisniewski, center Ryan Johansen and center Mark Letestu also scored for the Blue Jackets. Defenseman Jack Johnson had two assists.

Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky won his sixth straight start overall and his fourth straight since coming back from a groin injury. He had 26 saves.

The Capitals' only goal was scored by defenseman John Carlson, but the Blue Jackets had a 3-0 lead at that point.

Capitals starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer was pulled early in the second after stopping only 11 of 14 shots. He was replaced by Braden Holtby, who stopped 20 of 22 shots.

"There's no way to spit-shine it," Capitals center Brooks Laich said. "It's a bad hockey game. You want the glory when you win, and you face the music and the blame when you lose.

"We were all bad tonight. Individually, collectively we played a bad hockey game."

The Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead at 12:08 of the first period when Wisniewski took a gentle pass from Johnson and blurred a one-timer through a forest of legs.

Wisniewski is third on the Blue Jackets with 27 points, but that was his first power-play goal of the season.

The lead grew to 2-0 with 51.1 seconds remaining in the first. Left winger Matt Calvert had two whacks at a loose puck in front of the net, and the second rebound kicked right to Atkinson for a roofer.

Johansen's 18th goal of the season -- a wrister from the slot off a feed from right winger R.J. Umberger -- made it 3-0 early in the second period.

"You can't let a game get away and be that easy," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "It's not right."

The Capitals pushed back a little bit in the second, pulling to 3-1 at 8:53 when Carlson's shot made it through traffic and past Bobrovsky.

But any drama was taken away early in the third when the Blue Jackets scored two quick goals.

Letestu's came first at 1:08 of the third on the power play. He scored off a deft wrister after a give-and-go with right winger Nathan Horton, Letestu's fifth goal in six games.

Atkinson's goal followed at 4:24 when he grabbed a loose puck at the top of the slot, spun around and fired it past Holtby to make it 5-1.

"Those third-period goals were huge," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "After we scored those ... the game became the clock at that point."

NOTES: Blue Jackets D Fedor Tyutin missed the game because of an illness that has kept him out of practice this week. D Dalton Prout, who had been sent to minor-league Springfield a day earlier, was recalled and took Tyutin's spot in the lineup. ... After five straight games as a healthy scratch, Capitals RW Martin Erat was back in the lineup against one of his favorite opponents. Erat has 58 points in 60 career games against Columbus, most of them when he played for Nashville.
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