There's still work to do but it appears the Blue Jackets got hot at the most opportune time. Sunday's 4-0 win in Buffalo was the Jackets fifth straight, equaling their longest winning streak of the season. In the five wins, the CBJ have outscored their opponents 24-5 and have gone from being outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture to the first wild card spot. The Jacket victory over Buffalo, coupled with Pittsburgh's 3-1 win over Carolina, moved the Jackets (94 points) one point ahead of Carolina (93 points) who currently hold the final playoff spot. Montreal (92 points) remains very much in the hunt as the season heads to its final three games.
If the Jackets can hold onto the first wild card spot, they would avoid a first round playoff match-up with Tampa Bay, who has dominated the NHL from start to finish this year and beat the Jackets three times this year by a combined score of 17-3. Instead, the CBJ could have a playoff rematch against Washington, who eliminated the Jackets in six games last year and eventually won the Stanley Cup. This season, however, the Blue Jackets beat the Caps in three of their four meetings.
Among the reasons for the Jackets recent surge is goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. He's authored shut-outs in three of the five wins during this streak, has an NHL leading nine shut-outs this season, including seven since February 1st. It's more than just Bob though. Forward Oliver Bjorkstrand scored again Sunday. He now has goals in all five wins during this streak and has a career best 21 goals this season. Artemi Panarin had struggled for a couple weeks, but has found his game again. In Saturday's 5-2 win over Nashville, Panarin assisted on four of the goals. Two were scored by Cam Atkinson who now has 41 for the season, tying Rick Nash's single-season franchise record. Panarin, with 27 goals and 56 assists, has eclipsed his own franchise record for points in a season with 83.
"I think they feel good about themselves," coach John Tortorella said about his Jackets following Sunday's Buffalo win. "They've won some games here. We still have a lot of work to do to try to get into a situation to get (into the playoffs) but again, I think everybody feels good that everyone is contributing."
The Blue Jackets, seeking a third consecutive playoff berth, will try to finish off this late season playoff push this week, when they host Boston Tuesday in the home finale and then visit the Rangers Friday and Ottawa Saturday.
Below are some of the highlights from Sunday's win over Buffalo as well as the post-game comments of coach John Tortorella.