Another night. Another record.
With a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers Thursday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets set a franchise record for home wins, with their 26th of the season, eclipsing the previous mark set during the 2008-09 season (25–13–3).
A win was anything but certain during the first 30 minutes of play, however, as the Panthers outworked the Blue Jackets to jump out to an early lead.
Just 3:41 into the game, Jonathan Huberdeau banged in a rebound for the Panthers for an apparent 1-0 lead. Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella sensed interference and challenged the goal. After a short review, the goal was overturned due to goaltender interference on Sergei Bobrovsky and the game reset at 0-0.
With two minutes remaining in the first, Florida's Jonathan Marchessault fired in a rebound to stake his team to a 1-0 lead. Bobrovsky stopped the first two Panther attempts from point blank range, but was unable to snuff out Marchessault and the lead would hold into the first intermission.
The Panthers maintained pressure through the first half of the second period as the Jackets continued to play sloppy hockey – particularly in their own zone. Then, with five minutes to go in the middle session, rookie defenseman Zach Werenski stepped up, as he's done so many times this season.
Scooping the puck up on the board, Werenski fired a shot from a bad angle that found its way over the shoulder of Panthers goalie Jame Reimer. Tortorella had asked for more shots from angles and he got one that counted.
The goal gave the Blue Jackets the energy they seemed to need and it showed in their skating.
“It kind of took us a while to get going. Once we matched their energy and got work in, I think it definitely turned for us,” Werenski said following the game. ”Torts always preaches putting pucks on net. I just threw one there and and good screen by Calvy, and it found its way in.”
With 39 seconds remaining in the period, Josh Anderson – who also notched an assist on the Werenski goal – deflected a Jack Johnson blast from the point past Reimer, giving the Blue Jackets a lead they wouldn't relinquish. The goal was Anderson's 15th of the season.
The teams played a scoreless third period and the Blue Jackets gained two crucial points. The win gave Columbus 96 on the season, two off league-leading Washington – who lost in overtime to Nashville this evening – and one ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bobrovsky got the win on 33 saves. His 38 wins on the year is tops in the NHL. “Bob” has won six-straight games and has an eight-game point streak to his credit (7–0–1) with a 1.24 goals-against average and .959 save percentage during that stretch.
Werenski Doing Work
Werenksi's second period goal gave him 44 points on the season, padding the club rookie record he's held since topping Rick Nash's 39 set during the 2002-03 season. His 11 goals, 33 assists and +21 plus-minus rating are all tops among rookie defensemen in the NHL.
Perhaps more impressively is where he stacks up historically against other teenage defensemen.
|1||LARRY MURPHY||LOS ANGELES KINGS||1980-81||19||76|
|2||PHIL HOUSLEY||BUFFALO SABRES||1982-83||18||66|
|3||RAY BOURQUE||BOSTON BRUINS||1979-80||19||65|
|4||TYLER MYERS||BUFFALO SABRES||2009-10||19||48|
|BRYAN BERARD||NEW YORK ISLANDERS||1996-97||19||48|
|6||ZACH WERENSKI||COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS||2016-17||19||44|
|DAVE BABYCH||WINNIPEG JETS||1980-81||19||44|
Yeah, that's pretty good company.
The Blue Jackets travel to New York to face the Islanders Saturday. The puck drops at 1 p.m. with coverage on Fox Sports Ohio.
Columbus is 2–1 against the Islanders this season. The Jackets took the first meeting in Columbus, on Dec. 10, by a score of 6-2. The Islanders took the next game at home, 4-2, on Jan. 24, and the Blue Jackets took the last meeting in Columbus three weeks ago, 7-0.