The Blue Jackets inch closer to history with their 14th straight victory, defeating the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 in a game they dominated beginning to end. Their last loss occurred back on November 26.
The Jets got the exact start they wanted, scoring within the first three minutes. But the Blue Jackets continued to force turnovers and found themselves up 3-1 by the end of the second period. Bobrovsky made some big saves when they were needed and Hutchinson wasn’t making the big stops.
Winnipeg is now 1-15-1 over the past two seasons after back to back wins, which makes a three-game winning streak about as rare in Winnipeg as a 14-game winning streak is in Columbus. Columbus will now take on the Minnesota Wild, who are riding their own 12-game winning streak. This marks the first time in NHL history that two teams with 7+ game winning streaks will faceoff.
The Jets couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game. 24 seconds into the game, Armia drew a tripping penalty against Werenski. The power play didn’t result in a goal, but it resulted in multiple shots and eventually an offensive zone faceoff. Lowry won the faceoff back to Trouba, who sent a wrist shot towards the net. Matthias got his stick on it near the hash marks and less than three minutes in, the Jets took a 1-0 lead. The assist gave Trouba four points in the past five games.
The Blue Jackets didn’t waste much time. Off a turnover behind the net by Hutchinson, Saad threw the puck from a weird angle in front of the net. It bounced off a couple skates and right back to Saad, who threw the puck into a wide open net.
The Jets continued to keep the pressure up, with good shifts from the Lowry and Little lines. But turnovers eventually led to a penalty by Morrissey and the best power play in the league got their first chance against the third-worst penalty kill in the league. The Blue Jackets got good movement on the power play, but only one solid chance. The kill gave the Jets 11 straight. Using that momentum, the Jets promptly gave the puck away again.
Morrissey took his second penalty off of another Jets turnover. To be fair, this one came off the stick of Perreault that was lying on the ground. The puck dropped and apparently seemed to go straight into the net. Werenski took a wrist shot from the point, and Foligno tipped it in. Sounds familiar. Blue Jackets up 2-1.
Laine caused some chaos in the Blue Jackets end as the period started to wind down, just missing a shot from the high slot. Literally identical to a goal scored earlier this year against Toronto. The Jets couldn’t get the equalizer, and the first period ended with the Blue Jackets up 2-1. The Blue Jackets had a 14-1-1 record when leading after one.
The second period started fast and furious. The puck was back and forth, with the Jets pushing hard to find the equalizer. No goals early in the period, but we did get a couple massive body checks.
— Buckeye State Hockey (@BuckeyeStHockey) December 30, 2016
The Blue Jackets scored one on a screened and interfered Hutchinson. Maurice challenged the play and the play was confirmed. Enstrom pushed Foligno into his own goalie.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 30, 2016
The Jets pushed back, Laine just missing his 20th of the year off a won battle by Schiefele. The whole team was going hard, including Dano, who went hard into the boards and had to be taken off the ice, putting absolutely no weight on his left leg. Looks like either Copp or Tanev are coming back up to the big club.
Not long after that, Perreault decided that he wanted both Copp and Tanev to come back up, and took a shot off the side of the right knee 41 seconds later. To add insult to injury, the Jets took a penalty on the play. The Winnipeg faithful were not happy about the call.
Great movement by the Blue Jackets resulted in a Winnipeg breakaway on the penalty kill…wait..what? The Blue Jackets regrouped and Matthias took a dangerous shot on net. Finally, Columbus got it into the Jets end and had a dangerous chance in front of a sprawling Hutchinson. The penalty ends without a goal for either team.
Bad blood boiled between the two teams, who have rarely met, as Ehlers and Anderson got into it before the faceoff. 4 on 4 gave the Jets a couple of great scoring chances but they couldn’t convert.
More bad blood as Enstrom and Gagner got into it, and another penalty coming at the end of the period to Byfuglien for apparently sitting on someone? The period ended 3-1, and Columbus was looking forward to a power play to start the third.
"It's not good. We're talking about weeks, easy." #NHLJets HC Paul Maurice on lower-body injury to Marko Dano
— Ken Wiebe (@WiebesWorld) December 30, 2016
The Jets began the period shorthanded with Byfuglien in the penalty box. The good news was the presence of Perreault on the bench to start the period. The bad news was Wennberg putting his second goal of the game top corner over Hutchinson. Jets started to lose urgency. Laine missed again, giving him four on the night. Matthias gets a good chance but can’t get it up and over Bobrovsky. Perreault heads to the bench in some pain.
The Jets get a power play and make the Blue Jackets pay. Great zone entry by Wheeler, and tic-tac-toe to Stafford then Little for the tip in front.
Byfuglien decided to energize his team with a couple of massive hits. It doesn’t work, as another Jets giveaway leads to a deflection in front. 5-2 Blue Jackets. The Jets fight back with a power play goal off a gorgeous one-timer by Perreault, who apparently keeps forgetting that he is injured.
Unfortunately, it was too little, too late, and the Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to 14 games, joining some elite company, and setting up an incredible matchup with the Minnesota Wild.
WPG – Shawn Matthias (3) assisted by Jacob Trouba (8) and Adam Lowry (3)
CBJ – Brandon Saad (14) assisted by Nick Foligno (18)
CBJ – Nick Foligno (12) (PPG) assisted by Zach Werenski (17) and Sam Gagner (14)
CBJ – Alexander Wennberg (7) assisted by Nick Foligno (19)
CBJ – Alexander Wennberg (8) (PPG) assisted by Zach Werenski (18) and Seth Jones (9)
WPG – Bryan Little (6) (PPG) assisted by Drew Stafford (4) and Blake Wheeler (17)
CBJ – Lukas Sedlak (3) assisted by Jack Johnson (8)
WPG – Mathieu Perreault (3) (PPG) assisted by Blake Wheeler (18) and Dustin Byfuglien (19)
THW Three Stars
First: Nick Foligno (1 goal, 2 assists)
Second: Alexander Wennberg (2 goals)
Third: Zach Werenski (2 assists)
Columbus Blue Jackets at Minnesota Wild
Xcel Energy Center – 5:00 p.m. CST on Saturday, December 31
Broadcast Channels: FS-N, FS-O
2016-17 Season Series: First Meeting
New York Islanders at Winnipeg Jets
MTS Centre – 6:00 p.m. CST on Saturday, December 31
Broadcast Channels: SN, MSG+
2016-17 Season Series: First Meeting
Judson Rempel was born and raised in the Great White North, skating on ponds and watching hockey every Saturday night in small town Manitoba. When he’s not watching hockey, he’s playing hockey with his son and daughter, and trying to convince his wife to let him watch more hockey.