The players and coaches didn't say it outright, but we will: the Blue Jackets needed a win like this.
They were pushed and they were challenged, but give the Blue Jackets credit: they hung in there, buckled down defensively and capitalized on one of their four grade-A scoring chances in 3-on-3 overtime.
Seth Jones ended it on a blistering top-shelf wrist shot set up by Brandon Dubinsky, giving him 10 goals on the season and giving the Blue Jackets their 34th win.
With two points, Columbus jumped over Pittsburgh into sole possession of second place in the Metropolitan Division with 73 points. Both teams are chasing the red-hot Washington Capitals.
After the Red Wings started the game on the front foot and peppered Sergei Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets settled into their game and used their forecheck and some strong defending work to take control of it. At 5-on-5, they were in the driver's seat with 57 percent of all shot attempts and played one of their better third periods in a while.
"I thought we played better," coach John Tortorella said. "We played better away from the puck. It set us up for a third period, 2-2 (on the road)…we didn't win the third period but we win the game. Were we perfect? Far from it, but I thought we played more of our game."
Video: Torts' reaction to the OT win in Detroit
Here's what we learned:
38-17-13 DRIVES THE BUS: Talk about breaking out of a funk. The Jenner-Dubinsky-Atkinson line has been the Blue Jackets' best over the last week-plus since the All-Star break, and they've also been rewarded on the scoresheet. They scored the first two Columbus goals tonight (first Dubinsky and then Atkinson) to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Atkinson's goal was his 26th of the season in game No. 52, one shy of his season total in 81 games a year ago. Particularly at even strength, they were strong on the walls and didn't spend too much time in the defensive zone; Jenner was singled out by Tortorella for having another strong game after perhaps his best of the season in Pittsburgh last Friday.
"After the first few shifts, we settled ourselves down and were able to get some momentum and get going from there," Dubinsky said. "They started with (the momentum), but we got it back. We've still got to continue to get better. Great job finding a way to win tonight, but we have to continue to work at it and get better as we go along here."
Video: CBJ@DET: Atkinson, Dubinsky connect on give-and-go
DOUBLE DIGITS FOR JONESY: Jones has been terrific all season but he's seemed to have another gear since coming back from the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. The goal, his third OT game-winner of the year and 10th overall, made him the eighth Blue Jacket to hit the 10-goal mark. It was a well-executed play starting in the neutral zone when Dubinsky won a battle with Henrik Zetterberg (there could have been a slashing penalty, but there wasn't, so play on) and carried the puck into the offensive zone. His drop pass teed up a trailing Jones, and he ripped a rocket shot under the crossbar as Petr Mrazek failed to keep up with it.
Video: CBJ@DET: Jones picks the corner for overtime win
"He played a hell of a game right on through," Tortorella said of Jones. "He tried to make a difference. I watch him make some cross-ice passes, try to get us going offensively. He certainly wasn't safe. He made a lot of plays tonight. I think it's fitting that he buries one in the top corner to end the game."
FAREWELL TO THE JOE: The Blue Jackets made certain that their final game in Joe Louis Arena was a memorable one. With hundreds of their fans in attendance - including two buses full of Jacket Backers who made the trip up to Detroit - they put on a show in overtime and made one more play than Detroit to get the extra point. It was special too for Zach Werenski, a kid who grew up 13 miles from The Joe and had many family and friends in the building to watch him to play one last game in the historic barn. So long, Joe Louis Arena, you're a gem of a rink.