With both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild entering Thursday’s contest with identical 14-8-2 records, it didn’t take a mathematician to put together the fact that one team would emerge victorious and break that tie following their matchup.
In a battle between two of the better teams from each conference, it was the Western Conference representative that scored first on Thursday night.
At the 7:46 mark of the first period, Mikael Granlund got a slap shot off on CBJ goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky that was deflected in front by Marcus Foligno, the younger brother of Blue Jackets’ Captain Nick Foligno, to put the Wild on top early.
The CBJ deficit didn’t last long, as Markus Hannikainen tied the game up with 6:42 remaining in the first period.
A Minnesota penalty with less than a minute left in the first gave the Jackets an opportunity to take the lead early on in the second period, and the CBJ power-play unit took advantage. From behind the net, Alexander Wennberg found Cam Atkinson skating hard to the net. Atkinson, who had a seven game goal scoring streak snapped on Monday in Detroit, buried the puck past Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk to give the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead just 65 seconds into the second period.
Just over three minutes later, Riley Nash scored his first goal of the season to extend the CBJ lead to two. Later on in the period, Pierre-Luc Dubois fed Artemi Panarin from the corner, who found the back of the net for the first time in 12 games to give the CBJ a 4-1 lead.
The Nash and Panarin scores marked the second goals of the evening for both the CBJ top line and fourth line, an indication of the all-around quality team game the Jackets played on Thursday night.
Even after Wild leading scorer Zach Parise lit the lamp just 42 seconds after Panarin’s goal with 7:54 remaining in the second period, Bobrovsky and the CBJ tightened things down and kept Minnesota out of the net for the remainder of the game. After a scoreless third period, it was the Blue Jackets who picked up the two points up for grabs on Thursday, defeating the Wild by a score of 4-2.
After concluding their fourth game out of the last five with a final score of 4-2 (winning three of them), the 15-8-2 Blue Jackets won their third consecutive game at Nationwide Arena for the first time this season and will head to New York to take on the Islanders on Saturday night. The Islanders will host their first regular season game at Nassau Coliseum since 2015 since the moved to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in what’s sure to be an electric atmosphere back in their old barn.