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FINAL: Blue Jackets 2, Red Wings 0

Werenski sets record for goals by a defenseman, Merzlikins adds another shutout

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

The Blue Jackets ran their point streak to 10 games (9-0-1) with a 2-0 victory against Detroit on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd at Nationwide Arena.  

Game in a Paragraph 

Facing the last-place team in the NHL, Columbus carried play throughout the entire night, posting a 44-16 shots on goal advantage, but never could quite pull away until the buzzer hit zero. Zach Werenski's record-breaking goal gave the team a 1-0 lead in the second, and the Blue Jackets held it until a late empty-netter iced the game.

Video: Blue Jackets shut out Red Wings

Quote of the Game

Head coach John Tortorella: "We don't give them much, but it's one of those games. I like the way we handled ourselves. It's a tough game. (Detroit goalie Jimmy) Howard played well, and we just didn't get frustrated and start cheating below the puck. We stayed above the puck and I think it helped us quite a bit as far as not giving them much at all."

CBJ Notables 

  • Werenski tallied his 17th goal of the season, which leads all NHL defensemen, in the second period. In addition to that honor, it allowed him to establish a new CBJ franchise record for goals in a season by a defenseman, a mark previously set by Werenski and Seth Jones at 16 in 2017-18.  
  • Elvis Merzlikins delivered his fifth shutout in the past eight starts and now holds the NHL lead in the category. Merzlikins has given up eight goals in his last eight starts combined and is just the sixth goalie since 1929-30 to post five shutouts in an eight-game span.
  • Boone Jenner added an empty-net tally, his first goal since Dec. 31. 

Quick Recap (PHOTO GALLERY)

The first period was fast but neither team could get on the board, though each came close - Detroit's Robby Fabbri hit the post to the right of Merzlikins, while Oliver Bjorkstrand also dinged the iron late in the period. 

Columbus then put the pedal to the metal in the second period, earning a 21-4 edge in shots, and also took the lead. 

But the Red Wings nearly got on the board first as Columbus gave up a 2-on-1 while on the power play with Merzlikins making a fantastic save to keep it scoreless. Justin Abdelkader's cross-crease pass across to Valtteri Filppula was put on a tee, but Merzlikins went from his left to his right and fully extended the blocker to make the stop.  

Video: DET@CBJ: Merzlikins denies Filppula with blocker

Shortly thereafter, Columbus took the 1-0 lead on Werenski's goal. The Blue Jackets kept possession the puck for more than a minute and a half and had earned a delayed penalty, and finally the dam broke as Nick Foligno made an excellent move to split two players then feed it left to right to Werenski to drive past Howard.  

The Jackets buzzed from there the rest of the period and nearly got a goal shortly after Werenski's as Scott Harrington hit the post on a rebound, but Howard continued to shut the door well into the third period despite the CBJ's territorial dominance. But Columbus killed two penalties in the third and got a few timely saves from Merzlikins to shut the door. That led to Jenner's easy empty-net goal with 1:25 to go that finally killed the game. 

3 Takeaways

1. We're reaching the point where what Merzlikins is doing must be considered historic. In fact, just six goalies in the past 90 years -- so roughly one per 15 years -- have put together a stretch that includes five shutouts in eight games. The Blue Jackets have made it easy on him at times as the defensive efforts have been airtight of late, but credit is due for the way the 25-year-old Latvian has performed in the spotlight. Given his opportunity when Joonas Korpisalo went down, Merzlikins has won 12 of 14 starts and posted a save percentage of .953. And yet he wasn't happy with his outing against the Red Wings despite another blanking that included the phenomenal stop on Filppula. "I didn't feel 100 percent awake," he said. "I felt a little bit sleepy maybe. I am really critical against myself, so I am not happy about my performance, but I am happy for the (two) points." 

2. Trap game? What about a trap game? With two NHL titans on the docket to close this four-game homestand -- Colorado visits Saturday before Tampa Bay heads to town for a much-anticipated game Monday -- you could have excused the Blue Jackets for looking ahead a bit. After all, Detroit is bringing up the rear when it comes to points in the NHL. Yet Columbus felt in control of this game for much of the outing, and the lopsided shot total showed it, as the Blue Jackets set a franchise record with a plus-28 shot differential in a win. "The players know some of the struggles the Red Wings are going through with a really young team," Tortorella said. "It's just human nature to maybe give a little bit. ... I appreciate how our guys played tonight."

3. It's funny how hockey works. The Blue Jackets have won a lot of games of late -- 19 of the 26 to be exact, not to mention nine of 10 -- but some of those wins came despite the team not exactly pelting the opposing goalie with shots. Then, over the last two games, Columbus sent a combined 89 shots on goal -- 45 vs. Florida on Tuesday, 44 more Friday night -- and found just three goals, with one of them being Jenner's empty-netter. The Blue Jackets dominated those games but didn't get the goals to show for it, but the way Columbus carried play and got the wins is all that matters. "It's that time of year, everyone is going to give each other the best," Werenski said. "Their goalie stood on his head tonight. (Sergei Bobrovsky) played really well against us. We'd like to get a couple more in there with the chances we had, but the most important thing is we're winning games."

Notable 

Columbus now has two double-digit point streaks on the year for the first time in team history, with the team putting together a 12-game 8-0-4 run from Dec. 9-Jan. 2. … The Blue Jackets' power play improved to 18-for-19 over the last 10 games. … Columbus improved to 10-1-1 in the last 12 home games, outscoring foes by a 37-14 margin. … The Blue Jackets swept the season series vs. Detroit and are 21-4-2 against the Wings in the last 27 games, including 11-1-0 the past four seasons. … Columbus is 14-0-4 in its last 18 games against the Eastern Conference. … A sellout crowd of 18,978, a season best, was in Nationwide Arena, the eighth sellout of the season and the sixth in the last nine home games. … Red Wings goalie Howard lost his 18th consecutive start despite 42 saves.  

Roster Report 

Columbus kept the same 18-skater lineup as Tuesday's win vs. Florida. Scratches were forward Kevin Stenlund, defenseman Andrew Peeke and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (injured).  

Up Next 

The Blue Jackets are right back at it Saturday night when they host Colorado at Nationwide Arena at 7 p.m. 

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