BLUE JACKETS 4 | RED WINGS 2
The Blue Jackets thrust themselves back into the playoff picture tonight with their seventh win in their last nine games against the Red Wings (7-1-1 in that span), and their sixth in seven tries on home ice. If you want to get into the dance, these are the games you have to win...and they were impressive in getting it done.
FINAL: JACKETS 4 | RED WINGS 2
Adversity struck early for Columbus despite being up a pair of power-play goals in the first period. Sergei Bobrovsky, who hadn't been feeling well in the morning, started the game after declaring himself fit to go after warm-ups but left after the first period due to illness.
Leading by just a goal after the opening period, Curtis McElhinney stepped in off the bench in a difficult spot in a huge game, but did a marvelous job to steady the Blue Jackets between the pipes.
He made 23 saves in relief to help the Jackets to a 4-2 win, putting them in playoff position after tough losses to the Rangers and Islanders on the weekend.
"He was great, coming in a tough situation in a huge game," Richards said. "They pushed - you have to give Detroit a lot of credit for how they played. They had some opportunities and Curtis made some huge saves for us, and he looked calm. In a big, high-pressured game, he looked very calm."
Also of note for the Blue Jackets was their quick start on the power play, which had been struggling coming into the game. They busted out of it in a big way, scoring two power play goals in the first period and looking like a confident group on the man advantage.
More importantly, they capitalized on Detroit's mistakes and helped themselves out in the process.
"We talked about it before the game, just going over some things in meetings and stuff," Ryan Johansen, who scored twice, said post-game. "But really it was just us going out there and executing, putting ourselves in a good position to make plays and we were fortunate to get a couple in the net."
This was a 2-2 game entering the third period, a familiar position between these two teams; they were locked in a 1-1 tie two weeks ago before the Jackets scored three times in the final 20, and tonight, they followed it up with a pair of goals to pull away.
Cam Atkinson scored the game-winner, which stood the test of video review after it was determined that Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith pushed Atkinson into the net to dislodge it. Johansen's second of the night iced it into the empty net in the dying seconds.
There were some big moments tonight but Atkinson's game-winner was the largest of them all. The Blue Jackets had pushed the pace all night and beat the Red Wings at their own game, but were seeking the lead goal to get rewarded for it.
1. BRANDON DUBINSKY (CBJ)
A goal and an assist for Dubinsky tonight but he was noticeable all over the ice, winning face-offs, making the right plays and being a dependable player in the middle of the ice.
2. CAM ATKINSON (CBJ)
A big goal at a crucial time, which is something this guy has a knack for doing.
3. CURTIS MCELHINNEY (CBJ)
With 23 saves in relief, it's safe to say McElhinney was a huge part of the Jackets' win over Detroit.
VS. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
FRIDAY, 7 P.M.