Hot Jackets continue homestand vs. Wings

The Columbus Blue Jackets have become masters at winning close games, particularly against Eastern Conference opponents.The Blue Jackets are 8-0-1 over their past nine games and continue a four-game homestand against Detroit on Friday.Columbus’ past five games have been decided by one goal, most recently a 1-0 overtime triumph over Florida on Tuesday. Zach Werenski scored the game-winner, increasing the team’s point streak against Eastern Conference teams to 17 games. The Blue Jackets are 13-0-4 during that span.”I thought it was one of our better games we’ve played offensively and defensively,” coach John Tortorella said. “We just kept our patience. It took us longer than the 60, but we found a way to win.”It’s easier to be patient when a team has a hot goalie. Elvis Merzlikins recorded his fourth shutout in 13 starts by making 32 saves.”We want to get to the playoffs,” he told “That’s our goal, and we want to just run away from the teams who are below us.”Werenski leads all NHL defensemen with 16 goals. He was more impressed by his teammates’ collective effort to keep the Panthers from scoring.”I thought our D had good gaps, and we just played a good, solid game,” he told “That’s how we have to play. We’re going to win a lot of hockey games if we do that.”Columbus can complete a sweep of the three-game season series against the Red Wings on Friday. The Blue Jackets won the first meeting on Nov. 21, 5-4, after scoring three unanswered goals in the third period. Columbus’ 5-3 victory in Detroit on Dec. 17 unfolded in similar fashion, as the Jackets scored the last three goals of the game.The Blue Jackets will host Colorado on Saturday and Tampa Bay on Monday to complete the homestand.