Yes, the Blue Jackets’ franchise record nine-game winning streak is over.
But as the saying goes: don’t be sad that it’s over, smile because it happened.
(Someone famous said that, most likely, but we won’t get into details.)
When the Blue Jackets boarded their flight to Edmonton on Mar. 17, they were coming off a disappointing home showing (a 3-2 loss to Carolina) and had only one home win since beating Philadelphia way back on Feb. 13. The reality of their situation was starting to set in, but that didn’t deter them from setting a new goal, one focused on finishing the season with integrity and finishing it out the right way.
They squeaked out a shootout win over the Oilers at Rexall Place, and from there, the snowball kept building down the mountain. Less than 24 hours later, they went into Rogers Arena and blew out the Vancouver Canucks and then finished off the franchise’s first-ever sweep of western Canada two days later with an overtime win in Calgary.
And so it was back home on Mar. 24 to face the Anaheim Ducks, a Western Conference power that was a day removed from being humbled by the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Jackets, on the strength of a Scott Hartnell hat trick, took care of the Ducks in a 5-3 win at Nationwide Arena to extend their win streak to four games – but they were only getting started.
A second straight hat trick (another franchise first) from Cam Atkinson propelled the Jackets to a 5-2 win over the Blackhawks at United Center later that week. If that wasn’t enough, they jetted off to St. Louis after beating Chicago and then took down the Blues at Scottrade Center the next night.
And the train kept on rolling.
An overtime win over the New Jersey Devils led into a shootout victory over the New York Islanders, and last Saturday afternoon, the stage was set for the Blue Jackets to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nationwide Arena. With a great atmosphere and a new franchise record on the line, the Jackets took charge in the third period, getting the insurance goal (an empty netter) from Nick Foligno, his 30th of the season and first career hat trick.
It was certainly a memorable and “hang your hat on this” stretch for a Blue Jackets team that’s faced its share of adversity – mainly due to a barrage of injuries – in 2014-15, even though it came to a disappointing finish in New York on Monday.
Here’s a closer look at some of the key numbers from the win streak:
3 – The number of hat tricks during an 11-day span in the middle of the Jackets’ win streak. After going nearly three years without one (prior to this run, Atkinson’s hat trick on Apr. 5, 2012 in Colorado was the team’s most recent), the Blue Jackets got three-goal performances from Hartnell, Atkinson and Foligno in a span of six games. Hartnell and Atkinson recorded the first back-to-back hat tricks in franchise history.
+15 – The Blue Jackets’ goal differential during the nine-game winning streak. They scored at least five goals four times and scored six goals in their win over the Canucks on Mar. 19.
8 – The number of wins for Sergei Bobrovsky during the team’s nine-game run. Curtis McElhinney picked up a shootout win in Edmonton on Mar. 19, and from that point, it was all Bob all the time. His personal win streak snapped at eight games (28-17-3) in New York, one victory short of tying a personal and franchise best (nine wins; Nov. 29, 2013 – Jan. 23, 2014).
5 – Number of road wins during the streak. The Blue Jackets won games in Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Chicago and St. Louis, arguably some of the toughest environments in the NHL. Columbus also set a franchise record with its eighth straight road win Mar. 28 in St. Louis.
.931 – Bobrovsky’s save percentage during his eight starts of the streak, making 255 saves on 274 shots faced.
109.4 – The Blue Jackets’ special teams efficiency during the streak (normally, anything above 100 is considered to be good). Over the nine game stretch, the Jackets’ power play operated at a 23.1 percent clip, while the penalty kill was successful at a rate of 86.3 percent.