The streak is over.
But what a run it was for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
After 16 consecutive wins and a chance at tying the NHL record for the longest winning streak in its history, the Blue Jackets lost for the first time since late-November as they fell 5-0 to the Washington Capitals on Thursday.
With a win, Columbus would’ve tied the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins for the longest winning streak ever in the NHL, and had a chance to set the new record on Saturday against the New York Rangers.
The young Blue Jackets have emerged as Stanley Cup favorites, albeit in January. They lead the Metropolitan Division and they have the best power play in the league. Certainly, they have to be considered a contender for the Eastern Conference at this point in the season.
As coach John Tortorella rightfully pointed out, the Blue Jackets have been recognized on a national scale for something positive, which has never really been the case for a franchise that hasn’t done much winning in its time.
“There is no burden with our team and that’s what I like about it,” Tortorella told the Columbus Dispatch. “A lot of these guys haven’t been covered nationally . . . This has brought a little bit of light to the organization in a positive way. A number of things have been in a negative way with the organization over the years.
“That’s what I like. We’re getting a little bit of experience to the exposure where if you have an opportunity to play in the playoffs, it’s on you. For such a young team I think it’s good that we are being spoon fed some of it.”
But all good things must come to an end.
The Blue Jackets didn’t get off to a great start. It wasn’t a bad opening 20 minutes for them. They had the edge in shots, forcing Braden Holtby to be on top of his game. But the Capitals capitalized on goals from Daniel Winnik on a scramble in front and John Carlson off the rush to take the lead, and they never looked back.
They increased that lead to four goals in the second period. Even Nate Schmidt, who hadn’t scored in almost a full year, got into the act for Washington, making it 3-0.
Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled in the third period.
And that top-ranked Blue Jackets power play couldn’t score on its five opportunities.