Blue Jackets win 14th straight, on to historic game vs. Wild
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — The Columbus Blue Jackets are among the hottest teams ever in the NHL.
Now, they’ll make history in their next game just by showing up.
Alexander Wennberg had two goals and Brandon Saad also scored, helping Columbus beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 on Thursday night to extend its franchise-record winning streak to 14 games.
The run is tied for the fourth longest ever in the NHL, and Columbus is closing in on the record of 17 set by Pittsburgh in 1992-93. The Jackets next play at Minnesota on Saturday night, and the Wild have won 12 straight, setting up the first meeting between clubs with such long streaks.
“It’s going to be a blast,” forward Brandon Saad said. “They’re having a heck of a year and we’re playing well right now, too.”
No teams have ever had concurrent 12-game winning streaks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I think you’re starting to see a team that’s understanding that we expect to win if we play a certain way,” captain Nick Foligno said. “That’s great for this organization, for our fans and this group.”
Foligno and Lukas Sedlak also scored for Columbus, and Foligno and Zach Werenski each had a pair of assists. Sergei Bobrovsky made 31 saves for his 23rd win of the season.
“I thought Bob made some key saves at key times,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said.
Shawn Matthias, Bryan Little and Mathieu Perreault scored for Winnipeg, and Michael Hutchinson turned aside 30 shots.
Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler was asked if Columbus was the best team the Jets have faced this season.
“They’re certainly up there,” the captain said. “You’d put them in the category of the elite in this league.
“Certainly the way they’re going right now, 14 in a row, that’s a pretty impressive accomplishment.”
After Matthias, Saad and Foligno scored during the first period, Wennberg made it 3-1 at 8:21 of the second period after a Winnipeg coach’s challenge for goaltender interference was unsuccessful.
Foligno was sandwiched between Hutchinson and Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom when Wennberg raced across the front of the net, grabbed the loose puck and fired it in.
Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien took a roughing penalty against Wennberg as time expired in the second, putting Columbus in a 4-on-3 situation to start the third. Wennberg quickly potted his eighth goal of the season at the 45-second mark to stretch the lead to 4-1.
Little redirected Drew Stafford’s pass during a power play to narrow the deficit 4-2 at 6:29.
Sedlak then tipped in Jack Johnson’s shot to make it 5-2 at 14:31.
“They make you pay in a lot of different ways, whether it’s on the power play or just getting traffic to the net,” Little said. “We had our opportunities, too, and we couldn’t find the back of the net on most of them.”
With Hutchinson out of the net and Winnipeg on the power play, Perreault blasted a shot past Bobrovsky with 1:33 left.
NOTES: Wheeler assisted on the late goals, extending his point streak to six games with three goals and four helpers. ... Jets forward Marko Dano left the game in the second with a lower-body injury and didn’t return. Coach Paul Maurice said he’d be out “weeks, easily.”
Blue Jackets: Play an anticipated game at Minnesota on Saturday night.
Jets: Host the New York Islanders on Saturday night.