Fifteen in a row…and counting.
The Columbus Blue Jackets went to Xcel Energy Center, a building in which every seat was sold out, and impressively handed the Minnesota Wild their first loss in 12 games Saturday night. The Blue Jackets skated away with a 4-2 victory. Cam Atkinson scored twice, while Jack Johnson and Seth Jones each tallied once. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 29 of 31 shots to improve his personal winning streak to 13 games. He’s now 14-0-1 in his last 15 games.
With the win, Columbus extended their winning streak to 15 games while extending their point streak to 17 games. They finish a perfect 14-0-0 in December while winning a franchise-tying eighth straight game away from Nationwide Arena. They also have points in 11 straight road games.
Early on, the two juggernauts tried establishing their game, but with not many shots to show for it. Shots in the first six minutes were just 3-2 Wild. Both teams did a nice job of keeping the other to the outside. Territorially speaking, the Wild had the better of the play. Then business picked up in a big way.
First, it was missed opportunities both ways. The puck found Zach Parise at the side of the Blue Jackets net with an open side to shoot at. Somehow, Parise didn’t get all of it on his shot. The puck hit the post and a diving Bobrovsky covered. Then Matt Calvert found a streaking Josh Anderson who couldn’t get a good shot off.
Then the Wild forgot about Cam Atkinson for a moment. Not wise.
Atkinson got a clean breakaway and beat Dubnyk to make it 1-0. All five Wild players were up ice in the neutral zone. Atkinson slipped in behind them and broke his mini two-game scoring slump.
The period finished 1-0 Columbus. Each team had power-play time but could not convert. The Wild started the second period with 52 seconds left on their first power-play chance. Shots were 8-8 in the period.
If you were hoping to see some fights, you came to the right place. First, Anderson and Chris Stewart dropped the gloves. If that wasn’t enough, after that fight was over, Calvert and Matt Dumba squared off. Anderson and Stewart each got five for fighting. Calvert and Dumba got game misconducts because they started their fight after the first one was over. This exchange woke Columbus up in a major way.
The Blue Jackets scored two quick goals after the fights to make it 3-0. Jack Johnson raced down the right-wing and received a perfect pass from Brandon Saad. Johnson went over Dubnyk’s glove to make it 2-0.
Then, just 15 seconds later, Atkinson scored his second of the night. Right after the faceoff, Brandon Dubinsky raced in and fed Atkinson. The puck went to Markus Nutivaara who fed Ryan Murray who fired the puck toward the net. Atkinson deflected it home to silence the large crowd.
— Buckeye State Hockey (@BuckeyeStHockey) January 1, 2017
The Wild did get on the board a couple of minutes later thanks to their power play. Mikael Granlund was the recipient of some great work by Mikko Koivu. Koivu sent a pass that deflected off David Savard and went right to Jared Spurgeon. Spurgeon then got it to Granlund. The puck beat Bobrovsky after a couple whacks. That made it 3-1.
Then at 17:35, Columbus scored a huge insurance goal thanks to Seth Jones. Saad found Jones in a prime scoring position. Jones didn’t miss from up close. It was 4-1 after the second. The Blue Jackets held an 18-15 shot advantage.
Trailing by three, the Wild needed a strong start. They got just that. Just 26 seconds into the third, Jason Zucker scored after Granlund made a great pass that eluded Jones. It was 4-2 with plenty of game left.
The Wild kept the pressure up trailing by two. They emphasized their forecheck to earn more possession. Bobrovsky was sharp throughout the middle of the period to keep the score 4-2.
The Blue Jackets then took a hooking call with just 3:35 left in regulation after Minnesota turned their pressure up another notch. As has been the norm of late for Columbus, they killed the penalty with ease and held on at the end to preserve their 15th straight win.
The Wild finished with a 31-25 shot advantage, but couldn’t beat Bobrovsky in the end. The Blue Jackets become the first team ever to go from pre-Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day without suffering a loss of any kind.
CBJ – Cam Atkinson (16) assisted by Brandon Dubinsky
CBJ – Jack Johnson (2) assisted by Brandon Saad and Alexander Wennberg
CBJ – Cam Atkinson (17) assisted by Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara
MIN – Markus Granlund (10) assisted by Jared Spurgeon and Mikko Koivu
CBJ – Seth Jones (7) assisted by Brandon Saad and Nick Foligno
MIN – Jason Zucker (9) assisted by Mikael Granlund and Jared Spurgeon
THW Three Stars
First: Cam Atkinson (2 goals)
Second: Brandon Saad (2 assists)
Third: Mikael Granlund (goal, assist)
Edmonton Oilers at Columbus Blue Jackets
Nationwide Arena, 7:00 PM EST on Tuesday, Jan. 3
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and Sportsnet West
2016-17 Meeting: Blue Jackets defeated Oilers 3-1 on Dec. 13
Minnesota Wild at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center, 9:30 PM CST on Thursday, Jan. 5
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports North/Fox Sports Go and CSN California
2016-17 Meeting: First meeting of season