|Jackets seek 6th straight win when Jets visit|
Jackets seek 6th straight win when Jets visit
The Columbus Blue Jackets have picked themselves up off the mat and answered the bell with a sterling stretch of hockey over the last 6 1/2 weeks.
The surging Blue Jackets bid for a season-high sixth straight win on Wednesday when they host the Winnipeg Jets.
Columbus, which previously won five in a row from Dec. 16-23, has collected at least a point in 19 of its last 21 games (15-2-4) since Dec. 9.
"Right now, we're trying to ride this wave as best we can," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "We'll have some struggles along the way again, but I just believe the team will handle itself the right way."
Columbus has outscored its foes by a 16-3 margin during its current win streak following Sunday's 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers. Matiss Kivlenieks recorded 31 saves in his NHL debut in place of fellow rookie Elvis Merzlikins, who received the league's Second Star of the Week honors the next day.
Merzlikins has flourished during his four-start winning streak, turning aside 134 of 136 shots while registering the first three shutouts of his career.
The Blue Jackets also benefited from the returns of two key cogs to ignite their offensive engine.
Cam Atkinson has five points (three goals, two assists) in three games since missing a dozen due to an ankle injury while Oliver Bjorkstrand tallied twice against the Rangers following a 13-game absence due to rib/oblique issue.
"Both players were playing well when they were injured," Tortorella said. "It doesn't surprise me. They give us a lift with the scoring. It's something that we need."
Bjorkstrand, who has seven goals and two assists in his last five games played, set up two tallies in Columbus' 4-3 setback to Winnipeg on Nov. 23.
The Jets won that game after Merzlikins' failed clearing attempt up the middle was knocked down by Andrew Copp, who scored with 1:54 remaining in the third period.
Winnipeg hasn't fared as well of late, having dropped five of its last six contests overall while being outscored 16-4 during its current three-game losing skid.
The first period in particular has been an issue for the Jets, who have been outscored 9-3 in the first 20-minute session of the last five games. That beat continued as Winnipeg allowed three first-period tallies in a 4-1 setback to Carolina on Tuesday.
"You're feeling your record in your last six right now, but they played hard and I've got no complaint with them," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "I got no beef on the effort, the other team played well too."
Patrik Laine scored in his second straight game on Tuesday for Winnipeg, but the Jets failed to convert all four opportunities on the power play and fell to 1-for-16 with the man advantage over the last five games.
Laurent Brossoit is expected to get the nod in net as the Jets complete a back-to-back set. The 26-year-old sports a 1-1-0 record with a 3.87 goals-against average and .863 save percentage in four career appearances (three starts) versus Columbus.
--Field Level Media