If the last two years are any indication, winning streaks do not end with a whimper.
CAPITALS 5 | BLUE JACKETS 4
The Blue Jackets, vying for a ninth consecutive victory on Jan. 25, 2014 with a home ice showdown against the Buffalo Sabres, stumbled out of the gate and never got going in a disappointing 5-2 loss. Tonight, on a seven-game streak with the Washington Capitals in town for a potential four-pointer, they stumbled again and it proved costly.
Todd Richards called their 5-4 overtime loss “sloppy at times” and said their execution was off, as well, and they dug themselves an early 2-0 hole with a sluggish opening period. Washington out-shot the Blue Jackets 15-5 in the first period and got goals from Joel Ward (9:51) and Jason Chimera (19:22) to take a two-goal lead into the break after 20 minutes.
But as they’ve done so often during the past few weeks, the Blue Jackets had a response in the second period.
They were alive, roaring in on the forecheck, causing havoc by winning races and disrupting the Capitals’ transition game, and after a middle frame that included five minor penalties and three fights, the Blue Jackets had drawn level at 2-2.
Nick Foligno and Jack Johnson scored power play goals in the second, both goals created from net front presence and getting into the "dirty" scoring areas. Foligno had another one up his sleeve on his first shift of the third period and it gave the Blue Jackets their first of two leads in the final frame (his 15th of the season).
But that’s where things started to come unraveled for the Blue Jackets: they led twice (Foligno at :52 made it 3-2, then Michael Chaput’s first NHL goal made it 4-3 with 4:25 remaining) but could not hold on to either advantage, and two fluky goals allowed Washington to push the Blue Jackets to extra time for the fifth straight game.
“It’s disappointing,” Foligno said. “But we found a way to claw back and get a point out it…but we have to find a way to hold on to these leads.”
It’s not an anomaly: the Blue Jackets have given up tying goals in the final three minutes of regulation three times in their last three games at Nationwide Arena (Dec. 9 vs. Philadelphia, Dec. 13 vs. Pittsburgh and again tonight), coming away with victories in two of them.
Overtime was unkind to them tonight, as Eric Fehr took a drop pass from Mike Green just 42 seconds into overtime and beat Sergei Bobrovsky five-hole with a quick wrister, ending the Blue Jackets’ seven-game winning streak.
“(The streak) has put us back in position (to make a run),” Richards said. “And hope is a powerful thing.”
The Blue Jackets’ energetic, confrontational and occasionally rambunctious second period changed the game - and Dalton Prout’s convincing decision over Tom Wilson kept the momentum rolling for the home side. On the shift following Foligno’s tying goal, Wilson and Prout dropped the gloves and it was a one-sided bout, with Prout landing several bombs before tossing Wilson to the ice. The crowd was into it, the Jackets were feeling it, and they rode that momentum until late in the third period.
vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET