BLUE JACKETS (10-12-4) 3, RED WINGS (12-9-5) 2 - SHOOTOUT
JOE LOUIS ARENA | DETROIT, MI
If you don't enjoy watching these guys, please check your pulse.
The Blue Jackets, on the strength of 21 saves from Sergei Bobrovsky in regulation/overtime and two more in the shootout, earned their fifth consecutive win tonight, a 3-2 decision at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Columbus has earned points in seven straight, and finished the five-game season series against the Red Wings with a 4-0-1 record.
How did it happen today? Well, it had a familiar feel from yesterday's 3-0 win at Nationwide Arena but the difference today was that the Red Wings kept battling back, as one would expect. Derick Brassard's rocket slap shot from the right circle gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead at 3:10 of the second period, a high rising puck that seemed to catch Jimmy Howard off-guard as it beat him high to the glove side.
But Detroit answered right back 30 seconds later. Jakub Kindl found space high in the slot as the Blue Jackets had a brief defensive breakdown, and Kindl wired a slapper past Bobrovsky to tie the game at 1-1. Rather than see the Red Wings take momentum back, it was the Blue Jackets who once again stuck to their game plan and continued to get the puck deep into Detroit territory and let their forwards go to work.
A turnover by Henrik Zetterberg landed right on RJ Umberger's stick later in the second period, and Umberger turned and cranked a slapper - again - over Howard's glove hand to restore a 2-1 lead for Columbus. The goal capped off a stretch of 1:15 in which the two teams combined for three goals, and it was by far the craziest period of an entertaining hockey game.
The Blue Jackets ran into some penalty trouble late in the second period when Ryan Johansen and Umberger took back-to-back penalties, giving the Red Wings nearly two full minutes of 5-on-3 time. Detroit needed 25 seconds of the third period to even things up on a Johan Franzen goal, whipping a wrister over Bobrovsky to pull it back to 2-2.
After a whirlwind overtime with both sides trading chance after chance, it was on to the shootout where the Red Wings got the better of Columbus on opening night at Nationwide Arena. But this time, it was much different.
Pavel Datsyuk opened the shootout scoring with a snap shot through Bobrovsky's five-hole, but two of the Jackets' youngsters stepped to the fore and delivered in the clutch. Johansen went forehand-backhand-something crazy and over Howard in the first round, and Matt Calvert flat-out undressed the Red Wings netminder to give Columbus a 2-1 shootout advantage.
It came down to the top cop in town (with apologies to Jay Onrait of TSN), and he got a blocker on Zetterberg's attempt to seal a fifth consecutive win for the Blue Jackets.
Even though the Blue Jackets' penalty killing streak ended at nine straight games with the Franzen goal, making sure the tail end of the two-man advantage was spotless ended up being a big part of the game. The Red Wings had a chance to rally and take the lead, but aside from the Franzen tally (not much Bobrovsky could do), Columbus held serve. In a 2-2 game, where they've proven to be comfortable in tight games, the Blue Jackets got the job done.
- Bobrovsky, what more can you say? The guy's on fire. He's 6-1-1 in his last eight appearances and those gaudy GAA and SV% numbers are going to drop with tonight's 21-save effort in Detroit. His biggest stops, though, came in the shootout on Brunner and Zetterberg to free up the kids.
- Brassard and Umberger were terrific tonight, and have been big parts of this five-game streak. Umberger was +2 in the game, fired three shots on goal and scored a huge goal in the proceedings. Brassard continued to stay hot, picking up a goal and +1 rating while logging 17:43.
- Another rough night for Niklas Kronwall: -2 and a couple big time giveaways.
- Johansen was strong even before he tallied the wizard-like goal in the shootout. He registered an assist on the Umberger goal and had good pace to his game all the way through.
- Jack Johnson was nine seconds shy (29:51) of playing 30 minutes tonight and he was a horse yet again. He played in all situations, was crucial in getting the puck out of danger with his strength and skating, and has helped stabilize the blue line since returning from injury.
vs. Vancouver Canucks
Tuesday, 7 p.m.