BLUE JACKETS 4 (3-5-1), RED WINGS (4-3-1) 2
NATIONWIDE ARENA | COLUMBUS, OHIO
There was a simple formula for the Blue Jackets tonight: nothing for free.
Facing a team on the second game of a back-to-back and eager to rebound after a tough loss Thursday night, the Blue Jackets talked about getting back to their identity and doing it for the length of a hockey game. Aside from a five-minute span in the first period, they were awfully close to assembling their most complete effort of the season in a 4-2 win over the Red Wings tonight at Nationwide Arena.
Detroit scored first but the Blue Jackets played like they heard the words of Ryan Johansen earlier in the week -- if they give up a goal, forget it, let's go get it back. Johan Franzen's rebound goal seemed like just a blip on the radar tonight and the Blue Jackets scored four unanswered goals to put this one in their back pocket.
James Wisniewski (more on him shortly) let go a one-timer from the middle point that screamed over Jimmy Howard's shoulder at 18:17 of the first period, tying the game at 1-1 after a terrific read by Fedor Tyutin to set it up.
Wisniewski left the game early in the second period after crashing hard into the end boards while going back for the puck. He lay motionless on the ice for several minutes before skating off with the assistance of his teammates. The official word is an upper body injury, and he did not return to the game.
Shortly after the scary incident with Wisniewski, Artem Anisimov went to work. Niklas Kronwall turned it over behind his own net right to Anisimov in the low right circle, and he snapped a quick wrister over Howard's shoulder to give the Blue Jackets their first lead at 2:32. Later in the second period, it was Anisimov again, but this one was even better. The Blue Jackets were swarming in the Detroit end and the culmination was a great pass by John Moore down low to Anisimov, who skated around Kent Huskins and backhanded it past Howard to give Columbus a 3-1 lead at 17:18.
The Red Wings got their chance with 6:48 to play in a two-goal game, but the Blue Jackets' penalty kill took advantage of a mistake and made it count. Detroit turned the puck over in neutral ice and Brandon Dubinsky started a 2-on-1 with Mark Letestu jetting toward the net. Dubinsky feathered a perfect pass to Letestu, who re-directed it between Howard's legs to make it a 4-1 game and turn the lights out on Detroit.
Steve Mason was finally rewarded for his strong play and picked up a deserved win, making 32 saves and holding down the fort in the second and third periods.
After Anisimov scored his second goal, the Red Wings never looked the same. The Blue Jackets got them chasing the puck in their own end and wore them out with some quick movement of the puck, and Moore's heads-up play set the stage for Anisimov's slick finish.
- Jack Johnson broke his own franchise record for TOI, logging 34:59 tonight. Most of it came after the Wisniewski injury and was spent defending the Red Wings' top line, and it was a big factor in the outcome of the game. He was also a +1 and fired four shots on target.
- Anisimov recorded the first multi-goal game by a Blue Jacket this season, and both were artful finishes and came at crucial junctures. Howard didn't like the first one, but it was more of a perfect shot than anything else.
- Kudos to the Blue Jackets' fourth line (again) tonight, which really got the energy going early and helped establish an aggressive forecheck by the home side. Red Wing defensemen didn't have much time to make plays with the puck tonight, and that's exactly what the Blue Jackets wanted to do.
- Vinny Prospal had a game-high six shots on goal and was a steady, reliable presence on his line with Ryan Johansen and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault. He hit the goal post in the third period on a nice play off the rush, too, in what was one of his best games of the season.
- Brandon Dubinsky's first Blue Jackets goal is coming, and very soon. Nearly had it tonight, but you can't overlook the positive impact he's had at both ends of the rink. He played 19:49 in the game -- most among all forwards -- and was responsible for a sweet set-up on Letestu's shorthanded goal.
vs. Los Angeles Kings
Tuesday, 7 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 FM & BlueJackets.com