(Reuters) – The magical 16-game winning streak of the Columbus Blue Jackets ended one shy of matching the National Hockey League record for consecutive wins, but coach John Tortorella was understandably proud of his club.
“I just addressed the team. I usually don’t go in the room, win or lose. All year long I haven’t been in there. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t,” Tortorella said after Thursday’s 5-0 shutout at the hands of the Washington Capitals.
“That is one hell of a run by a hockey team. They should feel really good about it.”
It was the first loss by Columbus since Nov. 26, as the Washington shutout notched by goaltender Braden Holtby preserved the Pittsburgh Penguins’ record of 17 in a row registered in 1993.
“We played well, we couldn’t find a way on Holtby. Made some great saves at key times and then we kind of lost ourselves,” the Columbus coach said.
“I’m proud of the team. We’re a good hockey team. They’ll get a day off tomorrow and we’ll get whackin’ at it again against New York (Rangers) the next day.”
Holtby, last year’s Vezina trophy winner as the NHL’s best netminder, saved all 29 shots he faced for his fourth shutout of the season.
“It took a performance like Holtby’s to knock us off,” Columbus captain Nick Foligno told reporters.
“We had chances, glorious chances that we seemed to shoot into him. Or even shots that were through screens and he just swallowed them up. Credit to him, he played outstanding tonight.”
The Blue Jackets slipped to 27-6-4, but can take pride in rocketing to the best record in the league during their hot streak.
Washington improved to 24-9-5.
“That’s very impressive, the streak,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz. “In this day and age that is very impressive.”
After a pair of goals in each of the first two periods at the Verizon Center in Washington, Justin Williams capped the scoring at 5:36 of the third when he fired over Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s shoulder from a tough angle.
“I wanted to stop the streak,” Williams said. “Who wouldn’t want to stop a streak? I’m lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about it.”
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Andrew Both)