Columbus' 5-Game Point Streak Puts Blue Jackets Back Into Playoff Contention

Patrick Drottar@pdrottarCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2011

SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 19: RJ Umberger #18 (R) and Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets raise their sticks and celebrate Nash's winning goal against the Florida Panthers on January 19, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Blue Jackets defeated the Panthers 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Towards the end of 2010, the Columbus Blue Jackets looked as if they were turning the corner and would remain contenders in the Western Conference. They had won three in a row heading into 2011 and looked to build that streak as they went on a four-game road trip.

However, the Blue Jackets went on a downward spiral, losing all four road games as well as a home game against Phoenix. The once-hopeful Blue Jackets team was now struggling for points and falling further and further towards the bottom of the standings.

After the loss to Phoenix, the Blue Jackets would play a home-and-home series with division rivals Detroit. It was now or never for a team that the rest of the league was already counting out. The Blue Jackets came up big, winning the game 3-2 in the shootout.

After their first game in Detroit, the Blue Jackets would depart on another four game road trip before coming home for their last game before the All-Star break. Columbus did whatever it took to not have the same result as their last road trip.

The Blue Jackets did exactly that, going 2-2 on their road trip, getting points in each game. The first two games on the trip resulted in heart breaking losses to both Detroit and Tampa Bay in which Columbus battled back to tie the game, only to lose in overtime.

Heading into the second half of the road trip, the Blue Jackets would make sure they would not come up short and it started in Sunshine against the Panthers.

Florida came out firing, getting up to an early 2-0 lead. The Jackets were slow out of the gate, but would finally get it going late in the first period. Defenseman Fedor Tyutin fired a wrist shot that would find its way past goalie Tomas Vokoun with under two minutes left in the first period.

Tyutin's late goal gave Columbus much needed momentum and they would hold that momentum for the rest of the game. They came out aggressive, finishing their checks and putting a lot of shots on goal.

Every hockey coach out there preaches to his team, if you continue to put shots on net, one of them will find it's way in. However for Columbus, that would not come until the 19:07 mark in the third period with goalie Steve Mason on the bench. Antoine Vermette scored off of a rebound to tie the game at two and send the Blue Jackets to their third straight overtime.

However, this time, the Jackets would get more than just one point. R.J. Umberger would deflect Grant Clitsome's shot to give the Blue Jackets the well-deserved win.

The Blue Jackets would finish their road trip in St. Louis against the division rival Blues. Over the course of this season, these two teams have grown to hate each other.

In the two games that these two have met, we have seen an 8-1 Blue Jackets victory, a fight that lead to a broken leg for Blues star T.J. Oshie, and a dominating 4-1 Blues victory in their last meeting.

There third game would be anything but boring as a fight broke out in the first 10 seconds of the game between Brad Winchester and Derick Dorsett. At the end of the first period, there was a total of 34 penalty minutes between the two teams.

The Blues did exactly what the Panthers did in the previous game, going after Steve Mason early, and putting up two quick goals. However, just like the previous game, those would be the last two goals that Mason would give up.

The Jackets would wake up quick after the second goal, as Antoine Vermette would get his second goal in as many games, cutting the lead to one with plenty of time left in the game.

Then, in the second period, Jared Boll came up big when he was able to put a break away goal past Jaroslav Halak to tie the game at two. After that, the Jackets would not look back. Andrew Murray, Rick Nash, and Fedor Tyutin scored three goals in the third period as Columbus dominated the rest of the game, winning 5-2.

The Blue Jackets have recorded eight points in their last five games after losing five straight to start off 2011. They are now three points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 51 points. San Jose and Minnesota are both ahead of Columbus with 53 and play each other tonight so by tomorrow, Columbus will be four points behind the eighth place team.

This eight-game point streak has rejuvenated Columbus as well as solidified them as buyers before the trade deadline. Now, more than ever, general manager Scott Howson  must make a deal to bring in a playmaker that can put the Blue Jackets into the playoffs. With a win against Anaheim on Tuesday in Columbus, the Blue Jackets winning streak would put them back in the playoff hunt before the All Star break.

As famous Major League 2 skipper Lou Brown once said, "We won a game yesterday, we win one today, that's two in a row, we win one tomorrow, that's called a winning streak. It has happened before."