Greenwich’s Atkinson helps Blue Jackets double up Rangers in MSG debut

Greenwich native and Columbus Blue Jacket Cam Atkinson fires a shot at the net during last night's game against the New York Rangers at MSG. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich native and Columbus Blue Jacket Cam Atkinson fires a shot at the net during last night’s game against the New York Rangers at MSG. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich native and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson didn’t disappoint in his first game at Madison Square Garden.

Playing in front of close to 30 family members and 20 friends who made the hour trip from Greenwich, Connecticut to New York City, Atkinson netted an assist as Columbus doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2 last night.

“This is very exciting for me,” Atkinson said. “It’s my first time playing here as a pro, so obviously the adrenaline and butterflies were going. I think I had like 50 people here watching me, so it was kind of hard for me to get going. I was looking up at the crowd, but it’s a dream come true playing at Madison Square Garden. Growing up, the Rangers were my favorite team, so it was exciting to get the win.”

Atkinson was able to give his family and friends, as well as the Columbus faithful, something to cheer about very early in the game.

With only 38 seconds gone by in the opening period, Atkinson gained possession of the puck from Fedor Tyutin and used his speed to dart down the ice. Just after he crossed the blue line, Atkinson dished the puck to Matt Calvert, who hit the rising shot that found the top left corner of the net for the 1-0 lead.

“I kind of eased into that one,” Atkinson said. “It felt good to get that one out of the way. My line is definitely going and it’s easy to  play with those guys. (Brandon Dubinsky) brings a lot of energy, along with (Matt Calvert). We all kind of bring something different to the table and we seem to be finding the back of the net. We got to keep this going.”

The Blue Jackets kept the good times rolling in the first, scoring twice more and ending New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist’s night early.

Only eight minutes after Columbus lit the lamp the first time, former New York Ranger Artem Anisimov came through with the goal, as both Blake Comeau and Boone Jenner netted assists. With only 11:10 gone by in the first, Columbus struck again, as David Savard scored on the unassisted goal to make the score 3-0.

New York kept it close, as Dominic Moore scored his first goal of the season with six minutes left in the second period. Brad Richards picked up the assist on the play. Dan Girardi cut the deficit to 3-2, as both Michael Del Zotto and Mats Zuccarello tallied assists.

However, the Columbus iced the game with 2:32 to play in the third, as Ryan Johansen took the pass from Tyutin and made the score 4-2.

With the victory, the Blue Jackets improved to 14-15-3 on the season and are tied with the Rangers with 31 points.

For Atkinson, it’s all about finding his groove. In the team’s last five games, Columbus has come out victorious in all but one, a 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. During that five game stretch, Atkinson has tallied at least a point in three. In the team’s previous game against the New Jersey Devils, the Atkinson netted two goals and two assists as Columbus came away with the 5-4 win.

Against the Minnesota Wild, Atkinson scored the team’s first goal and Columbus went on to win 4-0.

“Any given night, anybody could score the game-winner,” Atkinson said. “We are playing good and we are playing strong. I think most importantly, we are keeping it simple. We are getting pucks deep. We aren’t trying to be too cute out there. When all four lines are going and keeping it simple, we are a good team.”

While contributing to the team’s success has been a top priority, playing well in front of the most important people in his life has to make the Greenwich native feel good.

“A lot of them have been with me since day one, especially my immediate family,” Atkinson said. “For them to come to this game is special and it’s definitely a memory that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

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