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Big second period thrusts Jackets past Jets

The SportsXchange

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Columbus Blue Jackets are quietly making a move in the Metropolitan Division, and they're doing it by committee.

That's just the way they script it.

Columbus centers Boone Jenner and Mark Letestu, not exactly household names by NHL standards, each scored twice on Saturday night as the Blue Jackets cruised to a 6-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.

The Blue Jackets (21-20-4) captured their third straight victory and are starting to push the likes of the New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers in the cluttered division standings.

Down 1-0, the Blue Jackets scored four straight goals in the second period to take command against a very fragile Jets squad (19-23-5) that has lost five straight games.

Letestu's short-handed goal just 36 seconds into the second period knotted the score at 1 and ignited the Blue Jackets' offense. It was just his third goal of the year, coming on a 2-on-1 break with center Derek MacKenzie.

"It was a big, big play, obviously, for (MacKenzie) to get it over to Mark (Letestu) on the penalty kill and get us going," said Columbus left winger Nick Foligno, who scored his 12th goal of the season in the second period. "We just took off from there.

"You need that. You need those breaks in momentum. You get a big one like that and we just get rolling from there. It was a huge goal for us, and then you see we take off and get three more and it puts us in the driver's seat."

Letestu added his fourth goal of the season midway through the third period.

Cam Atkinson also scored for the Blue Jackets, beating Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec in the second period for his 13th goal of the year.

Left winger Eric O'Dell scored his first NHL goal to give Winnipeg a 1-0 first-period lead, and center Bryan Little, with his 15th of the season, and defenseman Tobias Enstrom, with his fifth, chipped in with goals.

Pavelec stopped 20 shots for Winnipeg and Columbus netminder Curtis McElhinney was strong with a 28-save performance.

Coming off a victory at home against Carolina on Friday, the Blue Jackets won on back-to-back nights for the first time during the 2013-14 campaign.

"That's what we pride ourselves on, everyone buying in every single night," said Jenner, 20. "We're going to have games where it's tough for us, but as long as we have that work and that will, we know we're a good team. We just have to keep that up."

His goal on a penalty shot in the second period after he was hauled down by Jets blue-liner Adam Pardy proved to be the winner.

"We can tell in the room we believe in ourselves and we know when we play that way we can do some good things," Jenner said. "We can't look too far ahead, we just have to stay focused on the very next game and that's Monday. That's a huge game at home."

The Blue Jackets host the Tampa Bay Lightning to start the week.

Jets coach Claude Noel mixed up his lines, shifting defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to the right wing, where he played occasionally when he was with the Chicago Blackhawks. But it didn't provide the desired effect, and there were plenty of boos raining down from the MTS Centre crowd.

"I thought we played with some energy in the first (period). We had chances to make it more than 1-0," Noel said. "But the game unraveled in the second period on mistakes that I'd never seen before. It was wild. Some of the breakdowns I've never seen before.

"We suffer from confidence, that's clear. There are things we aren't doing well. We're not defending well, but we're not even passing well. Right now, adversity is the enemy and we are not dealing with it very well."

NOTES: Four Columbus goals in the second period on Saturday night are the most the Jets have surrendered in a period on home ice this season. ... Getting a much-deserved break was G Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 36 saves for his second shutout of the season in the Blue Jackets' 3-0 victory over the Hurricanes on Friday night. The Vezina Trophy winner as the league's top goaltender last season is 12-11-2 this season. ... Jets LW Evander Kane, who is nursing a hand injury, took a quick 10-minute skate in the morning before leaving the ice before practice was over. He did not dress for the game, which would have been the 300th of his career. ... Columbus RW Nathan Horton entered the game just one goal shy of 200 for his career. ... A year ago, Winnipeg D Jacob Trouba was logging big minutes for the Michigan Wolverines. Now, the 19-year-old leads all NHL rookies in average ice time (21:10) per game. ... The Blue Jackets like to crash and bang. The club came into the game leading the NHL in road hits (695) and was fourth in total hits (1,350).
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