The Columbus Blue Jackets had this game circled on their calendar for some time. They wanted another chance at the last team to defeat them in regulation. They were ready for this one from the drop of the puck.
For the 10th time in 26 tries this season, the Columbus Blue Jackets score four or more goals and skated out of Calgary with a 4-1 win over the Flames on Friday night. With the win, the Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to eight games, just one short of their franchise record of nine. They are also 9-0-1 in their last 10 games and now sit third in the vaunted Metropolitan Division, just two points back of the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place.
The game started with a most unexpected fight. Matthew Tkachuk laid a heavy hit on Brandon Saad. As expected, a Blue Jacket came to Saad’s defense. But very unexpected, it was none other than…Alexander Wennberg? Yes. The one known for hardly taking any minors let alone fighting majors went right after Tkachuk. Teammates will remember that one for some time. It also seemed to get the Jackets going.
Less than three minutes after the fighting majors, Boone Jenner deposited a rebound past Chad Johnson to make it 1-0. David Savard made a great play at the blue line and unleashed a shot that Johnson couldn’t control and Jenner was in the right place at the right time.
About 11 minutes later, the Jackets doubled their lead thanks to a great play on the wall by Alexander Wennberg. He was one-on-three and made a great centering pass to a streaking Brandon Saad, who unleashed a laser beam over Johnson.
Then penalty trouble started creeping into the Blue Jackets’ game. First, David Savard got a tripping penalty, then Matt Calvert did the same. On the extended 5-on-3, Sean Monahan brought his personal point streak to nine games by burying a Kris Versteeg pass past Sergei Bobrovsky. The period ended 2-1 Blue Jackets and they led in shots 13-8. Thanks to a late Derek Engelland penalty, the Blue Jackets started the second with 1:46 of power play time.
The theme of the second period was special teams. The Blue Jackets took full advantage of their power play as rookie Zach Werenski let a shot go that beat Johnson just 1:14 into the period. The puck appeared to deflect off Dennis Wideman’s leg but the goal was given to Sam Gagner as the puck might have glanced off him. Coupled with his assist in the first period, Werenski became the sixth Blue Jacket to reach 20 points this season with his two assists.
Then it was the penalty kill that took center stage. After Lukas Sedlak took a holding call, Calvert found himself on a breakaway and beat Johnson five-hole to extend the lead to 4-1. Calgary didn’t get their first shot of the period until over halfway through and Columbus dominated the period to the tune of 12-5 in shots and were up 25-13 overall after the second.
This is generally known as the lock down period for the Blue Jackets. Either they outscore you by a wide margin, or don’t allow their opposition to score, or both. Tonight, they shut it right down and held Calgary off the scoreboard.
The Flames biggest chance of the period was on a power play after Josh Anderson tripped Johnny Gaudreau. Bobrovsky made his best saves of the night during that sequence, including a sharp, shoulder save on Sean Monahan. Otherwise, Columbus limited Calgary’s chances throughout the period. The Flames tried pushing the play, but couldn’t get any momentum. Calgary outshot Columbus 10-4 in the third, but the Blue Jackets finish with a 29-23 overall advantage. Sergei Bobrovsky has won seven in a row, and is 8-0-1 in his last nine. He leads the league with 18 wins.
CBJ – Boone Jenner (5) assisted by David Savard and William Karlsson.
CBJ – Brandon Saad (9) assisted by Alexander Wennberg and Zach Werenski.
CGY – Sean Monahan (10) assisted by Kris Versteeg and Johnny Gaudreau.
CBJ – Sam Gagner (13) assisted by Zach Werenski and Cam Atkinson.
CBJ – Matt Calvert (4) unassisted
THW Three Stars
First: Sergei Bobrovsky (22 saves on 23 shots)
Second: Zach Werenski (two assists)
Third: Alexander Wennberg (one assist , Fighting Major)
Columbus Blue Jackets at Vancouver Canucks
Rogers Arena, 4:00 PM EST on Sunday, Dec. 18
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and Sportsnet Pacific
2016-17 Meeting: First of the season