Thanks to an offensive outburst in the final seven minutes of regulation on Sunday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets were able to pick up a massive win against the Vancouver Canucks that they absolutely needed to have.
Columbus scored four goals in the final seven minutes of regulation to erase a two-goal deficit and storm back for a 5-3 win.
Zach Werenski scored his 20th goal of the season to tie the game with less than five minutes to play in regulation, while Emil Bemstrom scored the game-winner just three minutes later. Gustav Nyquist added an empty-net goal with 10 seconds to play.
It may not be much of a stretch to say the could be a season saving victory in Columbus.
Even though Columbus entered the game in a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference (and improved that standing with Sunday’s win) they had a couple of hurdles standing in their way.
For one, they had been mired in a massive slump that had seen them lose 10 out of 11 games.
They are also about to face an absolute gauntlet of a schedule that will see them play their next seven games against Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Boston, Washington and Toronto. Every one of those teams currently occupies a playoff spot.
But perhaps their biggest issue is the fact every team they are in competition with for a playoff spot has two or three games in hand on them.
That matters quite a bit, and when you dig into the projected point paces and possible points that are still remaining the Blue Jackets were starting to get themselves in trouble.
Just look at the current Metropolitan Division/Wild Card standings for the teams after Washington (The Capitals still hold the top spot in the Metropolitan Division) as of Sunday night.
The Blue Jackets are clinging to one of those wild card spots based on current points, but with only 15 games remaining there are only so many points left for them to collect. Based on their current pace and the games they still have remaining, the Carolina Hurricanes (currently outside the playoff picture based on total points) are still on pace to finish with more points than Columbus this season.
Now, these are just projects and current paces and games in hand do not necessarily mean “wins” in hand. A lot can still happen when the games actually get played. But it does at least give a sense of how big of a swing Columbus’ win on Sunday was and how much work still needs to be done to get one of those spots. A loss on Sunday would have put them at a 92-93 point pace.
No matter what happens this has been an incredible effort by the Blue Jackets this season given all of the free agency departures over the summer and the absurd injury list they have dealt with all season (and are still dealing with now).
As for the Canucks, this one has to hurt. This looked to be a game they had completely wrapped up and it all disappeared in a matter of minutes. For the time being they fall out of the top-three in the Pacific Division but still hold one of the Wild Card spots. They still have games in hand on a lot of the teams around them, but the current injury situation that has them without Brock Boeser and starting goalie Jacob Markstrom is going to make things a little uncomfortable down the stretch.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.