DETROIT – Many teams come into Joe Louis Arena and get caught watching the Red Wings and their seemingly relentless amount of skill. The Blue Jackets simply played a straight-up, honest hockey game last night and were one mere shootout goal from two points.
Goaltender Curtis Sanford was strong between the pipes once again for Columbus, but interim head coach Todd Richards and the players also spoke about the play in front of the net. The Red Wings got the first shot on goal, but rarely anything after that – and it took away from their preferred method of attack.
The Blue Jackets held the Red Wings to just nine shots on goal 35 minutes into the game, withstood a late charge and gave themselves an opportunity to win in extra time.
“What I see is them paying a price,” Richards said. “We did some good things for about half of the game when we held them below 10 shots. They started to have a flurry late in the second and early in the third, but I liked the way we played.
“We’re playing hard as a group and we’re playing for each other.”
Sanford said the team’s play at even strength allowed them to spend more time in the Red Wings’ zone. Detroit couldn’t establish shift-to-shift consistency and it was due in large part to the Blue Jackets back-checking and taking away time and space.
“We’re sticking together and sticking to the system,” Sanford said. “We hemmed a good team in their end quite a few times tonight and generated opportunities.
“They’re a great team in the league and it’s a tough place to play, and we can come out of here with our heads held high.”
NIKITIN’S STATUS UNCERTAIN
Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin put the Blue Jackets ahead 2-1 with a power-play goal in the second period, but he missed the final nine minutes of regulation and overtime following a scary collision with Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg.
Zetterberg was assessed a five-minute major penalty for boarding, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct for the play. He and Nikitin went back for a loose puck, and Zetterberg appeared to push Nikitin into the boards. The resulting play was scary, with Nikitin crashing into the end wall and having trouble getting to the bench.
“(There is) no update right now,” Richards said. “I had a chance to talk to our trainers. Eventually, I’ll make my way back there. Right now I think they players are just upset. They’re paying a price and playing hard, but just aren’t getting the desired win that we want.”
MOORE, MOORE, MOORE ON THE BLUE LINE
John Moore was a major contributor tonight, and played a career-high 24:32 in the shootout loss. With the Blue Jackets down to five defensemen after Nikitin’s injury, Moore and partner Marc Methot drew heavy minutes against Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen.
He was involved blocking shots, joining the rush for a great scoring chance late in the third period and moving the puck quickly – all things Richards has worked to improve since taking over.
“They had the initial shots, I think we did a good job collapsing and not allowing anything,” Richards said. “They’re going to get some opportunities, but I thought we did a good job as a unit.
“We had some big blocks out there, too. Guys were putting their bodies in those shooting lanes and it’s helping us out.”
-Columbus used Rick Nash, Dorsett, Derick Brassard and rookie Ryan Johansen in the shootout. Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard made three saves, and Nash appeared to lose the puck on the way in.
-Fedor Tyutin led all players with 25:32 logged in the game.