Blue Jackets 4 Jets 3
COLUMBUS, Ohio —Oliver Bjorkstrand isn’t going to the NHL All-Star game this weekend in St. Louis, Missouri, but he’s sure playing like an all-star.
After scoring the Blue Jackets’ only two goals Sunday in a victory at the New York Rangers, he put two more into the net Wednesday night in a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at Nationwide Arena, including another late winner.
Bjorkstrand’s wrist shot with 5:38 left slipped into a small window over goalie Laurent Brossoit’s shoulder and under the crossbar, lifting the Jackets to their sixth straight win on his team-leading 16th goal of the season and ninth in his past six games.
Elvis Merzlikins started and made 27 saves for the Blue Jackets (27-16-8), who go into a nine-day break that includes the All-Star festivities this weekend with a 16-2-4 record in their past 22 games —moving back into the thick of the playoff chase in the Eastern Conference.
Seth Jones had two points (goal, assist), Pierre-Luc Dubois had three assists, and Gustav Nyquist scored his 11th goal for the Blue Jackets. The Jets (25-22-4) got goals from Mason Appleton, Kyle Connor and Neal Pionk.
Bucking their recent trend, the Blue Jackets came out strong in the first period, nearly scoring on their first shift. Brossoit made a nice glove save 30 seconds in to deny Foligno on an uncontested shot that capped quite a twirl from the Jackets’ newly formed top line.
Dubois and Bjorkstrand are the other two in the trio, and all three were dominant, with their hard work later in the first leading to Jones’ goal that tied it at 1 at 6:06, just 1:28 after Appleton opened the scoring for Winnipeg.
Jones’ goal was his fifth of the season and first since Dec. 5 in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers, scored with a wrist shot from close range. It was also the Jackets’ only goal in the first, which ended with the Jets ahead after Connor tipped a long shot by Anthony Bitetto past Merzlikins at 17:06.
The Jackets’ top line, however, responded again.
Dubois’ return pass to Bjorkstrand was sent through Brossoit’s pads to tie it at 2 just 1:28 into the second, which continued the Danish forward’s hot hand after returning from a 13-game absence because of rib and oblique injuries. Merzlikins also brought the crowd to its feet with a couple of great saves, but two more goals were also scored.
Each side tallied off late power plays —Pionk at 15:33 to put the Jets up 3-2 and Nyquist with 2:05 left to tie it —sending the game to the third with the score knotted at 3. Dubois picked up his third assist of the game on the tying goal, which started with his wrist shot and ended with Nyquist swatting the rebound over the goal line with a diving effort.