BLUE JACKETS 1 | RED WINGS 0
In order to extend their winning streak to seven games, the Blue Jackets had to withstand a desperate Red Wings team that was riding a three-game skid coming in as well as a fantastic goaltending showcase on both ends.
There were exactly zero goals scored in 65 minutes of regulation and overtime, with Jimmy Howard and Sergei Bobrovsky combining for 59 saves and 130 minutes of shutout hockey. And for the fourth straight game, the Blue Jackets had to put in some extra work to pick up the extra point, and in the shootout, they did just that.
Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner scored blocker side on Howard in the skills competition and Bobrovsky denied Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg on the home team’s third and final attempt, locking up a 1-0 victory at Joe Louis Arena and keeping their feverish wave of momentum rolling.
Yes, both goaltenders were outstanding, but it was Bobrovsky who stole the show and particularly in the first period, when the Red Wings came out with an early push and threatened on numerous occasions. He made 23 saves after the first period and several were top-notch, preserving a much-deserved goose egg and keeping a potent Detroit attack off the scoresheet.
With the victory, the Blue Jackets closed to within six points of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and picked up one point on third-place Washington, who comes to Nationwide Arena for a huge game on Thursday night.
“My feeling initially coming off the bench and walking down the hallway was it was a great hockey game,” said Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards. “It was a team win. We played a team game. Bob was good, but I’ll tell you what, the 18 guys that were skating in front of him were good tonight, too. (Detroit’s) a good hockey team, and when you get a shutout like that, it’s a total team effort.”
In the win, Bobrovsky picked up his 10th career shutout (all with Columbus) in his 200th career game. He's been absolutely marvelous in December, going 7-0-0 with a save percentage hovering around the .950 mark. The 1-0 shootout victory over Detroit was his second with the Blue Jackets; he also accomplished the feat two seasons ago against the Arizona Coyotes.
The Blue Jackets had plenty of chances but much like Bobrovsky, Howard was up to the task. Columbus had three power play opportunities in a wide-open second period but was unable to convert against the Red Wings’ No. 2 penalty killing unit, which was just shy of 90 percent efficiency entering tonight’s game.
But as they’ve done so often in this stretch, the Blue Jackets stuck with it. They hunted down pucks, prevented the Red Wings from generating much offense in transition and gave them only one power play, a Ryan Johansen hooking minor at 12:50 of the second period.
“It’s a much better feeling in the room,” Richards said. “There’s confidence, there’s a belief…those are two pretty powerful things. But there’s still a long way to go. We dug ourselves a big hole and now we’re trying to claw our way out of it.”
Midway through the second period, the Blue Jackets got a jolt of energy from a series of heavy, physical shifts in the Detroit zone. They were back on their game, relentlessly forechecking and challenging every puck, making life miserable for the Red Wings’ defense and forcing them to come 200 feet up the ice to try and get something going. That surge in the middle frame seemed to kick the Jackets into gear for the third period and into overtime before securing the second point in the shootout.
vs. Washington Capitals
Thursday, 7 p.m. ET
Nationwide Arena Arena