Associated Press photos Blue Jackets left wing Nick Foligno is surrounded by Karl Alzner, left, and Jay Beagle of the Capitals during a skirmish in the second period of Thursday night’s game in Washington.
Washington defenseman Karl Alzner, left, fights for the puck against Columbus center Alexander Wennberg during the second period of Thursday night’s game in Washington.
Thursday, January 05, 2017 10:01 pm
Blue Jackets' streak ends
STEPHEN WHYNO | Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Coach John Tortorella paced up and down the bench, trying to keep the Blue Jackets’ spirits high as they faced their first two-goal deficit since November.
The Jackets just didn’t have it Thursday night. Columbus lost a 5-0 clunker to the Washington Capitals, ending its winning streak at 16 games, one shy of the record set by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Blue Jackets’ fear-inducing, league-leading power play was blanked over five chances, and Columbus lost for the first time since Nov. 26.
Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, rock solid throughout the streak, was chased and replaced by Curtis McElhinney after allowing goals to Daniel Winnik, John Carlson, Nate Schmidt, Andre Burakovsky and Justin Williams on 23 shots.
The Capitals extended their winning streak to four and moved within five points of the Blue Jackets for the top spot in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division.
They were eager to curb Columbus’ run, with Burakovsky saying earlier Thursday, "It’s going to be a really fun moment for us to end it." A fan at the game held a sign that read, "Hey Blue Jackets, streaking is not allowed in here."
Tortorella conceded that luck was needed during the streak, and his team didn’t get the bounces Thursday. Winnik’s goal came off a flurry in front, Carlson’s went in off his left skate and Schmidt’s on his own rebound off Bobrovsky’s chest.
Washington’s good fortune and a 29-save performance from reigning Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby combined for a blowout reminiscent of when the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers ended their 35-game unbeaten streak with a 7-1 loss at the Minnesota North Stars.
Tortorella had said he wanted his club to tie the record, but added: "It’s not the end of the world if we don’t. It’s been a really good process for us to handle a little bit of scrutiny that we’re not used to at certain times. This is all good."
Tortorella said he’d measure his club more by how it handled the lull when the streak ended. As captain Nick Foligno noted before the game, this was only contest No. 37 for Columbus, and the Blue Jackets have a long way to go to show they’re more than just a team with a memorable midseason run.
"I’m proud of the group that we’ve hung together and stayed true to what our mantra is, so to speak, and we’ve got to continue to do that for a lot more games than just 37," Foligno said.
Notes: Bobrovsky, who had a 1.64 goals-against average and .941 save percentage during the streak, was pulled for just the second time this season. … Schmidt’s goal was his first in 67 games dating to Jan. 7, 2016. … McElhinney stopped all four shots he faced after replacing Bobrovsky.