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Postgame Hat Trick: Blue Jackets 4, Wild 2

Columbus' three-goal second period ends Minnesota win streak at 12

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 4-2 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center:

1. Minnesota (23-9-4) saw its franchise record 12-game winning streak come to an end. Its 13-game streak of earning at least a point -- another club record -- also came to an end.

The Wild and Blue Jackets (26-5-4) made history on Saturday, becoming the first teams in any of the four major sports (NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB) to play each other with both clubs riding win streaks of at least 12 games. Columbus, which has now won 15 consecutive games, finished the month of December 14-0-0.

Despite the loss, it's been a good run for the Wild as well. Minnesota finished December with a 12-1-1 mark and will begin 2017 in second place in the Central Division, one point behind the Chicago Blackhawks but with three games in hand. 

"It's been fun. When you look at the locker room, every time you win, it's such a big difference compared to losing," said Wild forward Mikael Granlund. "It was a fun stretch. Everybody was smiling when they came to the rink, so hopefully we can keep winning a little bit. That makes this game so fun."

Video: Mikael Granlund Postgame vs. Columbus

The Wild will try to start a new winning streak on Thursday when it begins a three-game road trip on the West Coast against the defending Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks. 

"I'd like to see us get down to two goals or under against. If we were to lose every game 1-nothing or 2-1, I'd say, 'OK, we're playing the way we play and eventually that would turn,'" said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "But we're not going to win if ... it's going to be a 5-4, 4-3, 6-5 kind of game."

 

2. With two teams as evenly matched as the Wild and Blue Jackets, Boudreau said on Friday that the game would be won by the team that made the fewest mistakes.

Unfortunately for the Wild, it was Minnesota that made the first one midway through the first period. An errant pass ended up in the skates of Wild forward Jason Pominville, then was poked loose by Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson, who went in alone on a breakaway and scored through the five-hole.

The play got Columbus on the board and the Jackets never looked back, eventually taking a 3-0 lead early into the second and a 4-1 advantage into the final period.

"I think that might've been the first time we were down three goals; It happens," Boudreau said. "[That is] 14 goals [allowed] in 4 games. We have gotten away from the way that we play most likely because we've been scoring goals. You end up changing your mindset as an individual when you score goals."

Atkinson scored a pair of goals for Columbus, including the second on back-to-back tallies just 15 seconds apart at the 3:44 mark of the second, a flurry that gave the Jackets their first three-goal lead of the game.

3. Down by three entering the third, the Wild did its best to make one final push against the NHL's best team.

"That was what we wanted to do is come out and try to get one early, see if we could put them on their heels a little bit and kind of see where it went from there," said Wild forward Jason Zucker.

Zucker scored a beauty of a breakaway goal 24 seconds into the third and Minnesota pushed hard with relentless offensive zone pressure for the next several minutes. A fantastic stick check by Columbus defenseman Ryan Murray on Charlie Coyle is the only thing that prevented it from becoming a 4-3 game with plenty of time left.

Video: CBJ@MIN: Zucker lifts slick backhand off iron and in

"We wanted to score one goal every five minutes, that would have won us the game. So I said, 'Now, we've got eight minutes to score a goal.' I think we had a couple of really good looks, some good chances, I think if we had gotten the next one, and it's all ifs and buts, but the crowd was so into it, I think it would have been a real exciting last little bit," Boudreau said. "They've won a lot of games, they know how to shut you down, they outworked us for a few shifts in the third period and that's what teams that on that kind of role do."

Zucker's goal was set up by a great outlet pass by defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who finished with two assists. It was his 13th multi-point game and second this season.

Speaking of multi-point games, Mikael Granlund had a goal and an assist and is now third on the team in points (29). Granlund has at least one point in 10 of his past 12 games overall, with five goals and 10 assists during that stretch.

Zucker has three goals and three assists in his past five games and now has 23 points this season, equaling his total from all of last season in 35 fewer games.


Loose Pucks

• Minnesota held Columbus' League-leading power play off the board on both of its opportunities.

• The Wild outshot the Blue Jackets 31-25, including a 16-7 edge in the third period.

• Dubnyk finished with 21 saves.

• Bobrovsky had 29 saves for his NHL-leading 24th victory.

Mikko Koivu had an assist and was one of two Wild players to finish a plus (plus-1). Ryan Suter was the other.

• Attendance: 19,307 (Largest of the season, 8th largest in Wild history)


He Said It

"It told them after the game. I said, 'We have to get back to winning 2-1, 3-2. That is what's going to make us win.' If we thinking we're going to be a team that's going to win 5-4 every night we're in trouble because that's not going to happen." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame vs. Columbus


They Said It

"I thought we played well. I thought the second period was probably one of our better periods in quite a while. Get a little unlucky in the third period there with Jonesy, the puck bounces over his stick, it gives them some juice. But I'm happy for the guys. I'm proud of our team and the way they've handled themselves through all this." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella


Three Stars

* Cam Atkinson

** Sergei Bobrovsky

*** Jared Spurgeon

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