Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
COLUMBUS – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by Sports Xchange) – The streak continues for a team that is smoking hot.
Columbus squandered a three-goal lead but recovered to win its 13th game in a row Tuesday night when Nick Foligno scored a power-play goal in the third period to give the Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins at Nationwide Arena.
Foligno gathered a rebound on his own shot from just outside the crease after a pass from Alexander Wennberg at 10:46 of the third period and beat Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask for the winner and his 11th goal of the season.
“I got a chance and I wanted to just try to stuff it, create some havoc in front and was able to get another lucky bounce,” Foligno said. “His leg came off the post and I was able to shove it in.”
The Blue Jackets (24-5-4) played a sloppy game after bolting to a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes but found a way to extend their franchise-record run and the NHL’s longest winning streak in the past four seasons. Columbus, which has not lost since before Thanksgiving, is 14-0-1 in its last 15 games and leads the league with 52 points.
“We didn’t play the greatest hockey game,” Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones said. “But we found a way to win.”
Columbus coach John Tortorella was pleased with another victory but wanted to put this one in the rear-view mirror and move on to the next game Thursday night in Winnipeg.
“It happened so easy and so quickly you knew it was going to be one of those games,” Tortorella said of the early lead. “I’ve lit a match to the tape already. It’s done. It’s burned.”
Scott Hartnell, Jones and Matt Calvert scored the three first-period goals for the Blue Jackets, who are 18-1-2 since losing to the Bruins on Nov. 10 in Boston.
The Bruins handed the Blue Jackets two of their five regulation losses this season.
“They’ve kind of given us some trouble to start the year here,” Calvert said. “But it was big for us to get our confidence the get two points.”
Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky won his 13th straight game and beat Boston for the first time, finishing with 37 saves and helping the Blue Jackets survive two Bruins power plays in the third period. Bobrovsky (22-5-2) leads the league in victories.
“It’s what he’s done all year,” Jones said. “He makes big saves when we needed him to, wins games for us and tonight was another example of that.”
David Backes, Austin Czarnik and David Krejci scored for Boston (18-15-4). Rask made 18 saves.
“The first 10 minutes we lost too many battles and it’s tough to win a game when you’re down 3-0,” Krejci said. “Everything goes back to that first 10 minutes.”
The Blue Jackets came out firing after the three-day holiday break, opening a 3-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the first period.
Hartnell, who had a hat trick last week against the Pittsburgh Penguins, picked up where he left off before the holiday. He scored the first goal and his ninth of the season at 3:02, collecting a rebound on a shot from the point by Lukas Sedlak and pushing the puck past Rask.
Hartnell set up the second goal just as a Blue Jackets power play ended, centering a pass from behind the net to Jones, whose sixth goal made it 2-0 at 8:48 of the first period. Columbus’ third goal came from Calvert, who rebounded his own shot for his fifth goal at 9:39 of the first period.
Whether the Blue Jackets became complacent or the Bruins’ ratcheted up their game, a potential blowout suddenly became a game. Boston responded with two goals in 55 seconds to narrow its deficit to 3-2.
Backes scored his ninth goal at 11:05 and Czarnik followed with his fifth.
“We just a little bit caught up in how well we were playing and didn’t realize that they’re a real dangerous team, too,” Foligno said. “We got caught turning the puck off a little bit and trying to make plays that weren’t there.”
There was no scoring in the second period until 18:26, when Krejci tied it at 3 when his seventh goal of the season.
“They came out strong and came out ready to play. They put us on our heels early on,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We crawled our way back into the game. Unfortunately, a bad penalty at a bad time (on the winning goal) ended up costing us.”
The Blue Jackets were outshot 40-22, but finished off a perfect four-game homestand. They lead the Metropolitan Division after finishing last a year ago.
“I don’t think either team was really that great,” Tortorella said. “But we’ll take them and put them in the bank.”
NOTES: The only winning streaks longer than the Blue Jackets’ in one season since 2005-06 are the Pittsburgh Penguins (15 in 2012-13) and the Washington Capitals (14 in 2009-10). No NHL team is thought to have gone from Thanksgiving to Christmas without losing a game in regulation. … Bruins D John-Michael Liles (concussion) has yet to be cleared for practice but began skating on his own last week and with the team Tuesday morning. He has been sidelined for 15 games and his return remains uncertain. … Boston’s last game before the Christmas break was a 3-2 overtime loss at Carolina. Columbus edged Montreal 2-1 at home. … The Bruins beat the Blue Jackets 6-3 in the season opener Oct. 13 in Nationwide Arena and 5-2 on Nov. 10 in Boston. In the second game, Boston scored four goals in a 4:01 span in the first period against Columbus G Sergei Bobrovsky before he was pulled.