The question going into tonight’s game was if the Blue Jackets could keep it going - and the Oilers were confident that the answer would be ‘no.’ There was a great deal of talk from the Edmonton locker room that they wanted to be the team who ended the Jackets’ remarkable streak.
The Blue Jackets weren’t in the mood to entertain that possibility.
Attacking from the drop of the puck, Columbus put pressure on Cam Talbot, and the Oilers frequently found themselves bottled in their own zone, the depleted Edmonton defense attempting to block shots and break up passing lanes where possible, but still giving the Columbus offense more than a few looks at the net, while Sergei Bobrovsky was equal to the few chances the Oilers generated in the early going.
The tipping point of the period would come with Jesse Puljujarvi being called for a hold on Jack Johnson, and the NHL’s top power play going back to work.
The power play generated several good looks, but it would be Cam Atkinson who found a way to cash in, receiving a Zach Werenski pass below the goal line and firing at the net, expecting Nick Foligno to cash in a rebound from the top of the crease. Instead, the puck would hit the back of Andrej Sekera’s leg and bounce into the net, giving the NHL’s best power play scorer one more tally.
The 1-0 score held through to the first intermission, though the Jackets had some good late period opportunities, but the Oilers were ready to play early in the second, and got results.
Jordan Eberle lead the charge into the Columbus zone with Patrick Maroon and Oscar Klefbom, who put a dribbling shot in to slip through Bob’s pads to tie the game.
But just as they have in recent games, the Jackets didn’t fold - they responded, starting with Brandon Dubinsky challenging Patrick Maroon for a rough hit that escalated into the two throwing down their gloves, which Dubi won decisively.
While Dubinsky sat, the Jackets would draw another power play opportunity, and Torts would reward William Karlsson for his recent strong run of play by putting him out on the second unit.
It was a decision that would pay big dividends when Karlsson picked up a perfect feed from Brandon Saad at the right faceoff dot and blasted it into the back of the net in the dying seconds of the power play, giving the Jackets a lead they wouldn’t look back from.
The 2-1 lead would stand into the third. With both teams looking to find a goal, testing their defenses and pushing to create an opening, there was an immediate sense that the next goal might well decide the game.
Nick Foligno, chasing Klefbom deep in the Edmonton zone, stepped into a cross ice pass, putting his shoulder down as he moved into the slot and hammering the puck cleanly past Talbot for the 3-1 lead, and from there it was all over but the shouting.
The Oilers did put some pressure on Bobrovsky, particularly in the final minutes when Talbot was pulled for an extra skater, but between rock solid play from their goaltender and committed, smart puck moving from the skaters in front of him, the Oilers would never pose a serious threat until the clock finally ran down, and the Jackets had yet another win in the books.
There’s no hiding now. There’s no secrets: The Blue Jackets are for real, and the NHL is taking notice.
The best part, though? The way the players are just taking it all in stride. It’s not about a record: It’s about just winning the game in front of them. Take a look at this interview with Zach Werenski:
The team’s got the perfect attitude right now - and the fans are happy to get crazy for them as we go on this wild ride.
16 straight wins.
8 straight wins at home.
You come at the King? You best not miss.