“It’s going to be a really good, fun moment for us to end it.”
That’s what Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky told the Washington Times when asked about facing the Blue Jackets prior to Thursday night’s game. The Blue Jackets were on the verge of tying an incredible NHL record, going for their 17th-straight win. Their last loss was a distant memory, back on November 29, 2016.
Unfortunately for Columbus, the streak ended with a thud, as Washington beat them soundly, 5-0.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who has been a major part of the Blue Jackets’ win streak, allowed five goals on 23 shots before being pulled in the third period. Bobrovsky was 14-0-0 during the winning streak, with just 23 goals allowed and a 0.941 SV%. One of the other key facets of the Blue Jackets’ streak that failed them was their deadly power-play (15/53, or 28%). They went 0/5 versus the Capitals.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Blue Jackets recover from the end of their winning streak, which featured more wins than four teams (Arizona, Colorado, Buffalo, and the Islanders) have all season, and as many wins as three teams (Dallas, New Jersey, and Florida) have so far this season. Damien Cox of Sportsnet writes that the next challenge for coach John Tortorella is to “convince his group that the streak wasn’t a fluke but a demonstration of capability.”
The Blue Jackets play 11 games in the next 20 days before the NHL All-Star break. They’re going to have a big target on their backs, as teams try to prove that they can beat the team who went more than five weeks without a loss.
Despite the incredible run, nothing is guaranteed for Tortorella and his team. The team they were trying to catch, the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins, won 17 straight but were upset in the second-round of the playoffs. As Cox wrote in his article:
The 16-game streak was nice and all, but it doesn’t change the fact that this hockey club has never won much of anything. Tortorella, an experienced, hardnosed coach, will be reminding them of that, you can bet.
The Blue Jackets are first in the NHL, but only by three points. And the next two teams, Pittsburgh and the Rangers, are both division rivals in the Metropolitan Division. Washington has 53 points, which would be tops in both Western Conference Divisions, but remains in fourth in the Metropolitan. Columbus will need to continue winning consistently if they hope to improve their franchise’s 2-8 all-time playoff record.