The Red Wings were down a few men and did not play their best game tonight, but a pair of quick strikes in the third period gave them all the breathing room needed.
Henrik Zetterberg and Jan Mursak scored goals just 49 seconds apart midway through the final frame, lifting Detroit to a 5-2 win over the Blue Jackets in front of 14,333 at Nationwide Arena. The win for the Red Wings snapped a three-game losing streak and helped make up for lost ground in the Western Conference standings.
It was a game full of ebbs and flows, but the Red Wings set the tone in the first five minutes by getting a Johan Franzen goal at 4:08 of the first period. Jakub Kindl’s wrist shot from the center point got through to Curtis Sanford, and Franzen scored on his second chance in front of the net for his 24th goal of the year.
The Blue Jackets answered on the power play with Detroit’s Todd Bertuzzi in the box for high-sticking. Derick Brassard fed Rick Nash at the goal line, and the captain rumbled to the net for his team-leading 22nd tally of the season – tying the game 1-1 at 6:55 of the first. Nash scored the goal with Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart draped all over him and eventually landed on top of goaltender Joey MacDonald.
After a scoreless second period, the offense came fast and furious in the final 20 minutes. Derek MacKenzie gave Columbus the lead with a beautiful shorthanded goal at 2:15, splitting the Red Wings defense after stealing the puck at the blue line and beating MacDonald with a heavy wrister.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as Niklas Kronwall evened the score exactly 90 seconds later on the power play. He made a slick move to get into the high slot and elevated a backhander over Sanford’s shoulder at 3:43.
The building was rocking after MacKenzie’s go-ahead goal and momentum appeared to be on the Blue Jackets’ side. They set a physical tone in the second period, carried it over to the third and even responded well after Kronwall’s tying goal. The game changed for good when Zetterberg’s wrister from the goal line snuck in behind Sanford, a goal that eventually stood as the game-winner.
Nash has goals in back-to-back games after scoring his 22nd of the season tonight. He has four goals the last five games after being held to one the previous 10 games. He also has scored 12 goals the last 27 games after being held to six goals the previous 24 games. He has points in nine of the last 12 games (5-6-11), while collecting 9-8-17 the previous 24 games. In 53 career games against the Red Wings, he has 24-20-44.
Brassard has points in four of the last six games after recording an assist on Nash’s goal. He also has points in eight of the last 13 games (4-6-10) and has 9-13-22 the last 31 games after being held to 2-3-5 the first 24 games of the season.
James Wisniewski has points in five of the last 10 games after notching an assist on Nash’s goal. He has 3-3-6 during that stretch. He played 20:42 of ice time tonight and entered the night ranked 16th in time on ice average.
MacKenzie snapped a 17-game goalless skid with his sixth of the season tonight. It was his first goal since Jan. 17 vs. Edmonton. The goal was shorthanded, his second of the season and first since Oct. 25 vs. Detroit. He had a game high six hits in the game and entered the night ranked 16th in the NHL in that category.
vs. Colorado Avalanche
Pepsi Center | Denver, Colo.
Thursday, 9 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com