Columbus trotted out its new third jerseys -- naturally, they're blue -- but the Red Wings spoiled the night for the sellout crowd of 18,391 that packed Nationwide Arena as Jimmy Howard stopped 34 shots, including Jared Boll's penalty shot, in a 2-1 victory on Friday night.
Less than two minutes after Johan Franzen opened the scoring by finishing off a 3-on-1 break at 7:04 of the second period, Boll was awarded a penalty shot -- but Howard took the wrister in his pads to preserve the 1-0 lead.
"I came down and saw the glove side was open. But I didn't put it exactly were I wanted it and he made the save," Boll said.
Howard said he figured Boll, a fourth-line forward, would shoot rather than deke.
"He lowered his head and was looking blocker," Howard said. "The ice at that point, halfway through the second period, wasn't all that great. I had to figure he was going to come in and shoot."
Valtteri Filppula made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 8:06 of the third to give Detroit a two-goal cushion. Just 59 seconds later, the Blue Jackets' R.J. Umberger stole the puck from Henrik Zetterberg behind the Red Wings' goal, then threaded a centering pass to Boll. Howard made the initial stop but the rebound came to Antoine Vermette, who shoveled home a backhand for his fifth of the season. The assist for Umberger extended his franchise-best assists streak to eight games.
However, Howard was perfect the rest of the way as he improved to 6-0-1 lifetime against Columbus, which entered the game with a League-high 14 victories, including five in a row -- one short of the franchise record. The Blue Jackets' Jakub Voracek missed a chance to tie it in the waning moments when Brad Stuart barely beat him to a loose puck in the crease with Howard out of position for one of the few times in the game.
Steve Mason made 30 saves for the Jackets, who travel to Detroit on Sunday for a rematch.
"It was a great battle between the goalies and between the teams," Howard said. "There were a lot of chances at both ends."
The Wings killed off all five Columbus power plays while scoring on one of their three tries. Both coaches said Howard and the Wings' PK made the difference.
"Obviously your best penalty-killer is your goaltender, but I thought our guys battled hard," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "As the game went on I thought our penalty kill got stronger and stronger and we didn't have to rely on Howard quite as much."
Jackets coach Scott Arniel said his team's inability to score on the power play -- a problem for much of the season -- hurt them badly against the Wings.
"Both goaltenders were outstanding. We had some great looks and Howard either got across or made a big save," he said. "(Detroit) scored the game-winner on a power play and we didn't score on our (power play). It's been a work in progress all year, and we certainly would have liked to have been rewarded on it. We got some real good chances against a really good penalty-killing team."
The opening period was scoreless, but not for a lack of chances. Columbus outshot Detroit 13-12, but both teams had opportunities that were denied by the goaltenders.
"We had great looks early in the game and if we could have buried one, maybe it would get them back on their heels a little bit," Arniel said.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
|Power Play %||15.8%||17.9%|
|% on Road||21.2%||19.5%|
|% at Home||11.6%||16.3%|
|Ruslan Salei Slashing against Nikita Filatov|
|Todd Bertuzzi Tripping against R.J. Umberger|
|Jiri Hudler Too many men/ice - bench|
|Valtteri Filppula Hooking against Jakub Voracek|
|Henrik Zetterberg Tripping against Fedor Tyutin|
|Mike Commodore Hooking against Justin Abdelkader|
|Fedor Tyutin Cross checking against Henrik Zetterberg|
|Mike Commodore Holding against Todd Bertuzzi|