The Columbus Blue Jackets have now won 15 in a row after downing the Minnesota Wild 4-2 in Downtown Saint Paul. There really isn’t much you can say, but tap your stick and thank them for giving their best. Minnesota played probably the roughest game in recent memory as their own 12 game winning streak now comes to a end with a thud. Cam Atkinson scored two goals, including the game winner, as the Blue Jackets and Sergei Bobrovsky kept the Wild at bay.
The building was rocking as 19,307 fans packed the Xcel Energy Center to the brim and was waiting to explode on a Wild goal. Zach Parise would come oh-so-close when he fanned on a shot that Bobrovsky was able to dive back with the glove and keep the puck out of the net. The forecheck was working for the Wild early and got some early Grade A chances. However, a mistake in the neutral zone by Erik Haula led to a turnover, Brandon Dubinsky would head-man a pass to the Wild line for Cam Atkinson. Minnesota’s defensemen Christian Folin and Marco Scandella lost track of Atkinson and the puck found the net through the five-hole of Devan Dubnyk.
Picture a balloon getting released and floating around in little fart circles. That describes the amount of deflation felt in the X when the goal was scored.
The period would end with a 1-0 score and the chippiness level raised. The second period, historically the Wild’s best period this season, was not the best Wild period this game. It didn’t take long. Just 3:29 into the period, Jack Johnson would score. And before the goal would be announced Ryan Murray would score to quickly give the Blue Jackets a 3-0 lead. This all happened after Chris Stewart and Josh Anderson would scrap. Some heavy punches would get thrown and few would actually land. Then Matt Calvert and Matt Dumba would join in the fun. Except they can’t do that. According to 46.7 in the NHL Rule Book:
46.7 Fighting after the Original Altercation A game misconduct penalty shall be imposed on any player who is assessed a major penalty for fighting after the original altercation has started.
Notwithstanding this rule, at the discretion of the Referee, the automatic game misconduct penalty may be waived for a player in the altercation if the opposing player was clearly the instigator of the altercation.
Which meant, Matt Calvert and Matt Dumba were tossed from the game. A trade that Blue Jackets Head Coach John Tortorella would make any day of the week. Where the nastiness and chippiness between the two teams came from is odd as these two are not in the same division, nor the same conference. That said, you could tell the Blue Jackets had a mindset of getting under the Wild’s skin early and often.
Mikael Granlund would get one back on the power play when Mikko Koivu would find Jared Spurgeon through a bunch of bodies and skates on the back door. Spurgeon’s shot would end up on Granlund’s stick to make the score 3-1 with hope budding for the Wild.
Seth Jones would score towards the end of the period to put the game out of reach for good.
Looking to win the period, and have something positive to build off of for next week, Jason Zucker would score on a breakaway 24 seconds into the third. Minnesota could find the back of the net and Bobrovsky was clearly the better goaltender on New Year’s Eve over Devan Dubnyk. The Blue Jackets ripped open the chinks in the armor that is the Wild defense and Dubnyk that the Islanders exposed on Thursday night.
Minnesota was able to keep the vaunted league leading Blue Jackets’ power play off the board. The Wild out-shot Columbus 31- 25 for the game and scored a power play goal themselves.
However, the players that are supposed to be the Wild’s best players - players like Charlie Coyle, Eric Staal, Nino Niederreiter, and Zach Parise on top of Marco Scandella struggling like mad, and down Matt Dumba - just weren’t the best players on the ice. Luckily, as much as it sucks to have a 12-game winning streak ride come to an end, it was just one game of 82 with plenty of season to start another one.