Coming off a win over the Chicago Blackhawks, the Winnipeg Jets hosted the streaking Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night. Although the Jets had a few good pushes, the Jackets controlled the majority of the game and were able to secure their 14th consecutive victory by a final score of 5-3.
After what head coach John Tortorella called a “slop fest” on Tuesday night, all eyes were on the Blue Jackets to see how they’d respond on the road on Thursday night.
It was the Winnipeg Jets that got off to the quick start, as center Shawn Matthias deflected a puck by defenseman Jacob Trouba into the back of the net. Matthias’ third goal of the season came at the 2:36 mark of the first period. The Jets goal came in a stretch to start the game where the home team registered the first seven shots on goal.
Just over five minutes later, the Jackets tied it up. Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson played a puck behind the net but turned it over to Brandon Saad in the corner. Saad got a sharp-angle shot off on Hutchinson as he got back into position. It was tough to tell if it was a rebound or a deflection off a skate, but the puck found its way right back to Saad who buried his second attempt. Saad’s 14th goal of the year tied the game up at one.
At 16:29 in the first, the Blue Jackets went on the power play. Sam Gagner won the faceoff and sent it back to Zach Werenski, who got a shot on target that was deflected by Nick Foligno into the back of the net. In four seconds, the CBJ converted on the man advantage giving the team a 2-1 lead.
The Jets once again controlled play to begin the second period. It was the Jackets, however, that scored first. At 8:21 in the period, Alexander Wennberg collected a pass from Nick Foligno in front of the net and put it past Hutchinson to extend the lead to two. The goal was initially reviewed as there was some contact between Foligno and Hutchinson, but Toronto deemed the CBJ captain was pushed into the netminder by a Jets player. The remainder of the period was scoreless.
Beginning the third period on a power play of the 4-on-3 variety, the Jackets struck quickly. Just 45 seconds into third-period play, Wennberg, who found himself all alone in the corner, skated in along the goal line uncontested and went far-side top-shelf to give the Jackets a 4-1 lead. It was Wennberg’s eighth goal of the year and second of the evening.
At 6:29 in the third period, Jets forward Bryan Little tipped in a centering pass from Blake Wheeler on the power play to cut the CBJ lead to two. Nine minutes later, Lukas Sedlak deflected a Jack Johnson shot past Hutchinson to restore the three goal lead. As the final minutes ticked away, with an empty net and on the power play, the Jets scored one final time with 1:33 remaining to make it a 5-3 game. The home team never quit, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
Jackets win 5-3.
- We’ve seen this now a couple times lately: the opposition scores first and quickly but the Jackets respond. The CBJ scored the next four goals after the Jets got on the board just over two minutes into the game.
- Both teams had success on the power play as they each converted two of four opportunities on the night.
- None of the Jets’ top three players in terms of points showed up on the score sheet on Thursday night.
- Winners of 14 straight games, only three teams in NHL history have a longer winning streak than the Jackets currently have.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets are back on top of the NHL standings with 54 points.
The stage is now set for a colossal matchup on New Year’s Eve in Minnesota. The Wild have a 12 game winning streak of their own and neither team has any intentions of slowing down. After going 5-6-2 in November, the Wild are 12-0-1 in December. The Jackets will go for an undefeated December at 6pm eastern on Saturday evening.