The Blue Jackets clinched the season series against the Red Wings for the first time in franchise history.
The win extended the Blue Jackets' points streak to six games (4-0-2) and pulled them out of the Western Conference basement, a place they had occupied since Feb. 15. The Blue Jackets are within four points of eighth place in the West, although they have played more games than the teams they are chasing.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves for the Blue Jackets for his and the team's fourth straight victory.
"He looked really in control," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "There weren't too many loose pucks. Pucks were hitting him and sticking to him. When that happens, you know the goalie is really on top of his game."
Columbus is 3-0-1 this season against Detroit.
"We just play the game that they don't want to play," Derick Brassard said.
Jonas Gustavsson stopped 21 shots for the Red Wings, who absorbed their second regulation loss in their past eight games (5-2-1).
The teams will conclude a home-and-home series in Detroit on Sunday.
Detroit went 0-for-3 on the power play and is 0-for-36 on the road with a man advantage.
According to STATS, the Red Wings' streak of futility on the road power play is the fourth-worst to start a season since 1987-88. The Minnesota Wild, in their inaugural season in 2000-2001, failed to score on their first 47 power plays. The Atlanta Thrashers were 0-for-42 in 2001-12 and the New York Rangers were 0-for-39 in 1999-2000.
"I don't know what to say anymore," Pavel Datsyuk said when asked about the drought.
Atkinson's third goal of the season was the result of a great defensive play behind the Red Wings net by Matt Calvert. Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall attempted to make a pass, but Calvert intercepted it, brought it to the front and fed Atkinson for the goal at 13:46 of the first period.
Datsyuk was whistled for a delay of game penalty at 4:20 of the second period, and it took Johnson 52 seconds to make him pay. Brassard dashed through the slot and dropped a pass to Johnson, who ripped a shot past Gustavsson to make it 2-0.
Columbus made it 3-0 after Detroit again had trouble behind its net. A pass to Kyle Quincey deflected off his skate and right to Ryan Johansen, who quickly fed Foligno in front of the net for the quick shot and goal.
"I don't know if it's mistakes or it's something else," Gustavsson said. "I just try to worry about my own game. Mistakes can happen. I'm one of the guys who's supposed to help the guys when that happens."
Material from wire services was used in this report