The Blue Jackets earned their first win of the season, beating Detroit by a 3-2 score in a Monday afternoon matinee at Little Caesars Arena.
Game in a Paragraph
Columbus improved to 9-0-1 in the Motor City since Oct. 15, 2013, with the win in Detroit. For the third time in as many games, Columbus was in a 1-1 game after two periods as the Red Wings tallied in the first before the Blue Jackets equalized in the second. But consecutive goals by Alexandre Texier and Pierre-Luc Dubois early in the third allowed Columbus to pull away to the win despite a late empty-netter by Detroit.
Quote of the Game
CBJ defenseman Zach Werenski: "Obviously we didn't want to go 0-3 to start the season. I didn't think we were very sharp early on. There's plays we made, passes weren't as crisp as usual, but I think as the game went on we found ourselves, especially in the third period. It was a great play by Tex and (Oliver Bjorkstrand) there to make it a 2-1 game and a great play by (Mikhail Grigorenko) and P-L to make it 3-1. It was nice to get those goals in the third and get a win."
- Coming off leading the Blue Jackets in goal scoring a year ago, Bjorkstrand notched his first goal of the season when he tied the game at 1 in the second period. He also added an assist and a fighting major in the final moments for a Gordie Howe hat trick.
- Texier scored for Columbus to give him goals in consecutive games.
- Dubois notched his first goal of the season to make it a 3-1 game in the third.
- Joonas Korpisalo earned his first win of the campaign, making 35 saves for Columbus. He also earned the second assist of his career with the second helper on Dubois' third-period goal.
Video: Blue Jackets down Red Wings in regulation
Boone Jenner hit the crossbar off a feed from Dean Kukan in the opening moments, and that is one he'd likely love to have back after the Red Wings took the lead 7:00 into the game. Korpisalo made an excellent, full-extension pad save on Tyler Bertuzzi to keep it scoreless, but on the ensuing faceoff, Michael Rasmussen got the puck to Bobby Ryan, who quickly fired past Korpisalo's blocker to make it 1-0.
Columbus had a chance to tie a few moments later when Seth Jones drew a penalty shot at 9:36. But the Blue Jackets couldn't get it past Thomas Greiss either on the extended delayed penalty time before the Wings touched up nor on Jones' penalty shot, as Greiss poke-checked the puck off the CBJ defenseman's stick before he could get a shot away.
Korpisalo kept it 1-0 with some excellent goaltending the rest of the period, denying Frans Nielsen from low on the left after a turnover and making a blocker save on Bertuzzi on a rush late in the period.
The second period had plenty of pace and required some solid saves out of both Korpisalo and Greiss at times, with the former stopping Jon Merrill on the doorstep and the latter making a nice denial of a one-timer by Grigorenko.
The period's only goal, however, went to Columbus, as Bjorkstrand got on the board to cap a shift in which Columbus pinned the Wings into their own zone for an extended period of time. Finally, The Maestro took advantage, as Jenner's shot was blocked by Rasmussen but Bjorkstrand was on the spot to quickly roof the puck over the glove of Greiss to make it a 1-1 game with 4:49 left in the second.
Columbus then took its first third-period lead of the year with back-to-back goals 1:26 apart early in the frame, and it could have been more had Emil Bemstrom not hit the crossbar on the power play early in the period. First, Texier made a great individual play to make it 2-1 at 5:10, as he took as feed from Bjorkstrand at the left point, used a burst of speed to skate all the way around the net and beat Greiss to the far post for a wraparound score.
Then Dubois got on the board, making it 3-1 at 6:26 with a nice transition goal on a play started by Grigorenko. The Russian forward calmly skated the puck out of trouble in the defensive zone then spied Dubois behind the defense, hitting him in stride with a breakout pass banked off the boards. Dubois then fought off a defender and lifted a backhand shot past Greiss to make it a two-goal lead.
Korpisalo kept it that way with a big stop with nine minutes to go on a one-timer by Anthony Mantha. Bertuzzi tried to set one up this time, sending a cross-slot feed to Mantha for a one-timer, but Korpisalo slid right to left to get the pad on it and keep it a 3-1 contest. Marc Staal also hit the post on a rebound for the Wings with just over three minutes left and Korpisalo made back-to-back rebound saves on Bertuzzi and Vladislav Namestnikov with the Detroit net empty.
Then finally, with 56.8 seconds to go, a scrum in front of Korpisalo as the Wings pushed for a goal resulted in the puck crossing the line and a 3-2 game. Mantha threw the puck on net and Ryan got credit for his second of the game as he whacked the rebound free and into the net as he and Werenski went into Korpisalo. The rebound goal was originally waved off because of the contact on Korpisalo by Ryan, but NHL review determined it to be a good goal because Werenski caused Ryan to go into the CBJ netminder.
Detroit couldn't score from there, though, and it was a 3-2 final.
1. Sweet victory. After two losses to start the year, the Blue Jackets were at a point where it didn't really matter how they got a win as long as they got one, and Monday's game fit the bill. It was a sloppy start -- Detroit was up 12-6 in shots on goal late in the first period -- and a finish that ended a little closer than the team would have liked, but in the end it's a win. The positive is that the team seemed to settle some things down as the game went on and found some line combinations -- including splitting Werenski and Jones as a defensive pair -- that resulted in some chemistry. Through two and a half games, the Blue Jackets looked like they were seeking some confidence; they seemed to gain it as the game went on against Detroit. "We started to play faster," Bjorkstrand said. "We got some momenutm, so we just kept doing that int he third. That's how we have to play."
2. Through nearly eight periods of this season, the Blue Jackets had zero points from first-line forwards Grigorenko, Dubois and Bjorkstrand; zero points from the Werenski-Jones pace-setting defensive pair; and zero points from bounce-back candidate Cam Atkinson and new acquisition Max Domi. It was a small sample size, of course, but if any team in the NHL is going to be competitive, it needs points from its top players. So to see Bjorkstrand nab a pair of points and Dubois tally what ended up as the game-winning goal was a good sign for a CBJ team that started to find some offense as this game went on. "It's important," Bjorkstrand said. "Every season, you want to get going with a goal or an apple early on. It always gives a little bit of a spark, and it's obviously a positive thing that we all got one here tonight."
3. What is it about afternoon games that makes things weird? OK, we're not sure if we can blame the noon start -- the Jackets' only scheduled one this year -- for all that happened Monday, but it was a definitely one of those games. You don't see goalie assists very often, and who would have expected Bjorkstrand to end the game with a Gordie Howe hat trick? Add in a scrap between childhood friends Werenski and Wings captain Dylan Larkin and it was a wild day at the rink. Will the intensity of that final minute scrum carry over to Tuesday night's rematch? That's one of the unique things about this 2021 season that we're about to learn. "Everybody is fighting for points," Dubois said. "It's a short season, so every game matters even more than in an 82(-game season). When you play the same teams -- maybe you get a cross-check or a slash from a guy and you don't forget about him, usually you have to wait two months before you play him again. Now you play him the next day."
Michael Del Zotto notched another assist to give him three in as many games this year. … Grigorenko's assist on the Dubois goal is his first point as a Blue Jacket. … Jenner's assist was the 225th point in his career, tying Brandon Dubinsky for sixth on the all-time CBJ points list, and extends his streak to five straight games against Detroit with points. … Jones' penalty shot was the first in CBJ history by a defenseman. … Columbus improved to 22-4-2 vs. Detroit since Mar. 17, 2011, including an 12-1-0 mark since the start of the 2016-17 season. … Detroit was 0-for-2 on the power play, with the CBJ penalty kill improving to 8-for-8 on the season. ... Columbus had 29 shots on goal with Greiss making 26 saves. ... The Blue Jackets are now 1-0 this year when giving up the first goal and 0-2 when scoring first.
The Blue Jackets used the same 18-skater lineup as the first two games, with the only change the return of Korpisalo in net. Forward Kevin Stenlund and defensemen Scott Harrington and Gabriel Carlsson were healthy scratches.
The Blue Jackets and Detroit play again tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. before Columbus heads home to prepare for the home opener Thursday night vs. Tampa Bay.