Thirteen’s an unlucky number anyway.
In the hyped battle of streaking 2000 expansion teams, the Wild discovered what all the fuss is about regarding the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Like no other opponent this season, the Blue Jackets made the Wild look ordinary and impressively ruined the Wild’s franchise-record 12-game winning streak Saturday during a 4-2 victory in front of 19,307 frenzied fans at Xcel Energy Center.
“What a crowd they had, and it was a great team,” said Blue Jackets forward Brandon Saad, who had two assists, including one on Seth Jones’ late-second-period backbreaker. “It was real fun to be a part of. Obviously you want to be on the winning end, but it’s definitely one to remember.”
The Blue Jackets, who have lost three games in regulation since Oct. 15, won their 15th in a row — two wins from tying the Pittsburgh Penguins’ pre-shootout, pre-3-on-3-overtime 1993 record of 17 wins in a row.
“It’s pretty hard to fathom,” said Saad, a Pittsburgh native. “What a team that was … we want to take over.”
The Wild, which could have taken the top spot in the Central Division, suffered its first regulation loss since Nov. 29. Devan Dubnyk saw his franchise-record 10-game winning streak and personal-best 14-game point streak end with his first regulation loss since Nov. 19. The Wild’s eight-game home winning streak is history, as is its eight-game winning streak against the East.
The Blue Jackets, 12-2-3 on the road, were the fourth team to win in Minnesota in 17 games.
“It just didn’t go our way,” said center Erik Haula. “It was going to end at some point. Now we have to start building on another one.”
For that to happen, coach Bruce Boudreau said the Wild must get back to playing tight defensively when it begins a three-game trip in San Jose on Thursday. The Wild has allowed four goals in three of the past four games.
“If we’re thinking we’re going to be a team that’s going to win 5-4 every night, we’re in trouble because that’s not going to happen,” Boudreau said.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who has won 13 straight games, made 29 saves.
“If you’re not getting too many grade-A’s, he’s going to make those saves,” said Jason Zucker, who made it 4-2 with a breakaway goal against Bobrovsky 24 seconds into the third period.
According to the Wild, there wasn’t a single ticket left in the arena and virtually nothing available on the secondary market. Tickets were being resold for as much as $600.
Maybe jittery, the Wild didn’t executive offensively in the first. Jason Pominville, without a goal in 14 games and demoted midgame to the fourth line for the third game in a row, couldn’t get to a loose puck a few feet from a gaping net. Zach Parise half-fanned on a shot with an entire net open.
Those came back to haunt against the NHL’s highest-scoring and second-best defensive team. Cam Atkinson made it 1-0 on a breakaway, the first of three goals Marco Scandella was on the ice for.
The game fell apart in the second. Chris Stewart fought Josh Anderson 2:28 in, but as Stewart and Anderson were being escorted to their penalty boxes, Matt Dumba and Matt Calvert dropped the gloves. Because secondary altercations after an original one aren’t permitted, they received game misconducts. That meant the Wild had to play with five defensemen the final 37 ½ minutes.
Boudreau said Dumba didn’t know the rule. “It really impacted us,” Boudreau said.
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella agreed, saying: “It’s a good trade for us. We take one of their better D off the ice.”
Less than 90 seconds later, it was 3-0 when Jack Johnson and Atkinson scored 15 seconds apart.
“It’s been fun,” Mikael Granlund, who had his eighth multipoint game, said of the monthlong win streak. “When you look at the locker room, every time you win, it’s such a big difference compared to losing. It was a fun stretch. Everybody was smiling when they came to the rink, so hopefully we can keep winning.”