It seems like only yesterday when the Blue Jackets were the only team in the NHL to not have suffered a three-game losing streak.
After a 5-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets Thursday night at Nationwide Arena, Columbus now finds itself in the midst of a five-game skids. With the playoffs quickly approaching.
Entering Thursday night's game with the Winnipeg Jets on a four-game losing streak, the Blue Jackets set the tone early, registering seven shots before Winnipeg was on the board with their first.
Captain Nick Foligno put the home team up, 1-0, just 6:58 in when his active stick work in the defensive zone led to an odd man rush. Foligno, skating up the wing, fired a wrister to beat Jets goalie Eric Comrie glove side.
The Blue Jackets continued to force the action until defenseman Scott Harrington was called for high-sticking and sent to the box for a double-minor. Despite facing a four-minute disadvantage, Columbus' penalty kill unit performed well. Until it didn't.
With 20 seconds remaining in Harrington's double-minor, Winnipeg's Jacob Trouba scored from the point to even things at one, 13:54 into the first.
The goal seemed to spark the Jets as the dominated play the rest of the first period.
90 seconds after Trouba's goal, Winnipeg cashed in again when Mark Scheifele punched past Blue Jackets goalie Joona Korpisalo to make it 2-1, Jets.
“We had a really good start. All lines were going. And then we took an unfortunate penalty that gets them back in the game and then we just had a letdown. Those are things that can't happen,” Foligno said.
The Blue Jackets found themselves in familiar territory heading into the second – outshooting an opponent (15-8), but trailing on the scoreboard.
Just 3:49 into the second, Winnipeg scored again to make it 3-1. Mathieu Perrault beat Korpisalo for his 13th of the season.
Brandon Saad managed to jolt Nationwide Arena to life with two goals in the middle period. At 7:12, he scored on a rush, set up by a nice pass on the boards from Oliver Bjorkstrand. Saad struck again five minutes later to tie it up. The goal was made possible by a heads-up play from Alexander Wennberg to keep the puck in the Winnipeg zone.
The two goals gave Saad 53 points on the season, tying a career high. For Wennberg, it was a team-leading 45th assist (13-45-58), tying Ryan Johansen (2014-15) for the fourth most assists in a single campaign in franchise history.
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Winnipeg would outshoot the Blue Jackets, 12-11, in the second period, but the Jackets seemed to have found their footing with Saad's pair of goals.
The Jets added two goals in the first half of the third period to push their lead to 5-3 an effectively put the game out of reach, however.
The first came on a power play 4:06 in, when Trouba got his second man-advantage goal of the night. Five minutes later, Ryan Little scored for the Jets – his 21st of the season – to push Winnipeg's lead to two again.
Boone Jenner gave the Blue Jackets hope with a goal with six minutes remaining. It was Jenner's 17th of the season, set up on a great pass into the crease from Scott Hartnell.
Korpisalo was pulled from goal with nearly two minutes remaining, but the Blue Jackets were unable to find the tying goal. The backup netminder stopped 27 of the 32 shots he faced on the night and is now 1–4–1 after starting the season 6–0.
Bjorkstrand finished the evening with two assists, his first points in his last four games. It was his third multi-point game of the season and second multi-assist game.
The loss, coupled with Pittsburgh's 7-4 win over New Jersey Thursday night, hands the Penguins home ice against the Blue Jackets in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Roslovic Comes Home
New Albany native Jack Roslovic, Winnipeg's first round selection in 2015, made his NHL debut at Nationwide Arena tonight.
The former Ohio Blue Jackets U16 star, who spent two years with the U.S. National Team Development Program and a year at Miami University, finished -1 on the night in 8:24 of ice time.
The Blue Jackets travel to Philadelphia for a tilt with the Flyers Saturday (12:30 p.m., FSOH). Philadelphia made history this season when they became the first team in NHL history to record a 10-game winning streak, yet fail to make the playoffs.
Columbus is 3–0 against the Flyers this season, with two of the wins coming in March.