Ken Hitchcock's 1,000th game as an NHL coach is one he'll try very hard to forget.
Hitchcock reached the milestone when he stepped behind the bench for the Columbus Blue Jackets' home game against the Detroit Red Wings. But the Wings spoiled the night by getting four goals in the first period and blowing out the Blue Jackets 9-1 before a stunned crowd at Nationwide Arena.
"We didn't play committed or hard against a genuine opponent," Hitchcock said. "It’s disappointment in the attitude towards the competition."
Detroit's victory was the most lopsided in the series between the Central Division rivals. It was also the worst home loss in the Jackets' history.
"We really got schooled today," said Hitchcock, who has a 520-389-88-63 record with Dallas, Philadelphia and Columbus. "We got schooled by a hungry team that got beat 5-1 the last game and they were ready to play and we weren't. It doesn't surprise me. We'll learn the lesson, go back and have a chat."
Niklas Kronwall scored twice, as did Justin Abdelkader. Dan Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi all had a goal and an assist. The Wings took a 4-0 first-period lead as they improved to 5-1-1 in their last seven games and rebounded from a 5-1 loss at Toronto on Saturday.
"I obviously wasn't very happy with our last game, and I let the guys know that," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We played with good structure tonight. We got a lot of pucks to the net which is important and things turned out well for us tonight."
Rick Nash scored in the second period for Columbus, which had won two straight and earned points in five consecutive games. Jackets goaltender Steve Mason, who had an .878 save percentage and 4.27 goals-against-average in Detroit's four-game sweep of the Jackets last spring, allowed three goals on six shots and was yanked after playing just 7:32. Hitchcock put him back in to start the second period, and he wound up allowing eight goals on 27 shots.
"Nothing was said, but I think with (Hitchcock) putting me back in shows that he was trying to get some momentum," Mason said of being lifted and re-inserted.
The Wings capitalized on poor breakouts, spotty defensive-zone coverage and shaky goaltending to grab a 4-0 lead less than 12 minutes into the game.
A pass from defenseman Fedor Tyutin hit the back of Samuel Pahlsson's skate and deflected to Henrik Zetterberg, whose shot from the high slot deflected to Cleary for an easy stuff at 1:05. Datsyuk scored an unassisted goal after a bad clear at 3:03, Draper scored off a redirection of Brett Lebda's shot at 7:32, and Kronwall's screened slapper sailed past Mathieu Garon for a power-play goal at 11:57.
"We wanted to come out with a good start, especially the first 10 minutes," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "They are the team to beat in our division. They are on top of our division and we are looking at playing well against the top teams. I thought the whole team responded well tonight."
Nash spoiled Jimmy Howard's shutout by scoring on a backhander 10:56 of the second period. But Bertuzzi and Ville Leino scored 33 seconds apart to make it 6-1 after two periods, Kronwall scored again early in the third and Abdelkader got the last two to complete the rout.
The Blue Jackets have a day off before Anaheim comes to town on Friday night.
"When we win big games you move on pretty quickly. We've got to make sure this game is forgotten pretty quickly," Nash said. "We will go over it tonight or tomorrow and see what we did wrong and move on."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.