COLUMBUS -- The Detroit Red Wings entered their game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday eyeing two crucial points in the race for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
By the final minute of a frantic third period at Nationwide Arena, they were hoping for at least a point.
Despite a valiant effort, the Red Wings did not get it, losing 5-3 to the Blue Jackets.
Detroit (32-23-11) scored twice in the final five minutes to cut the Columbus lead to 4-3, but Cam Atkinson's second goal of the game, into an empty net with 18 seconds left, sent the Red Wings to their third straight loss.
"Out of the gate, the urgency wasn't there," Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "We battled to the end but just came up short. It shows you can't take anyone lightly. You have to show up from the get-go or you're going to get beat."
Video: DET@CBJ: Atkinson redirects shot for PPG
Howard kept the game scoreless in the first period despite Detroit being outshot 16-4. Columbus (28-3-18) led 2-1 entering the third period.
"We played physical," Blue Jackets left wing Matt Calvert said. "That's not a very physical team over there. I think that's the key when you play a skilled team like that.
"I thought we scared them away in the first and second, and we held on for the win."
Their poor start left the Red Wings befuddled.
"Not everything is explainable," Detroit center Brad Richards said. "It's sports. It's human. They're trying. It's over with now. You don't go in thinking we're going to start in the second."
Video: DET@CBJ: Clarkson scores through his own legs
The Blue Jackets benefited from two 5-on-3 goals; Atkinson scored the second to make it 4-1 at 9:14 of the third period.
Tomas Tatar cut the Columbus lead in half when he scored on a 6-on-4 power play with Howard pulled for the extra attacker at 15:44.
With Howard back on the Detroit bench, Andreas Athanasiou scored his fifth goal to make it 4-3 with 3:30 remaining.
The Red Wings had several more excellent chances with Howard pulled, and they nearly tied it with 2:30 left. Darren Helm's shot deflected off the stick of Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard, sending the puck through goaltender Joonas Korpisalo's legs before hitting the right post.
"You sensed it was going down to the wire," Columbus coach John Tortorella. "They're throwing everything at the net. We're defending hard, but it was just craziness."
Video: DET@CBJ: Athanasiou's deflection trims lead to one
The Blue Jackets victory wasn't sealed until center Brandon Dubinsky got in front of a shot and was able to spring Atkinson with an empty net looming for his 23rd goal.
"We weren't going to let them tie it up at the end," Atkinson said. "[Dubinsky] had an unbelievable block on my goal. If he doesn't block that, it would have been a different story."
Korpisalo made 18 of his 32 saves in the third period, but Dubinsky said the Blue Jackets are learning how to finish games.
"There wasn't the panic we might have had early on," Dubinsky said. "Obviously, you don't want to give up the two goals. I'm happy with the way the boys battled and the way it ended."
Boone Jenner had a goal and an assist, Savard and David Clarkson scored, and Dubinsky, Alexander Wennberg and Seth Jones each had two assists for Columbus.
Video: DET@CBJ: Jenner's goal puts Blue Jackets up by two
Justin Abdelkader scored in the second period for Detroit; Mike Green had three assists, and Howard made 27 saves.
"It's not good enough," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "It's disappointing. It's frustrating, but there's no way that effort was good enough, especially in the first period."
Savard opened the scoring 11 seconds into a 5-on-3 power play at 00:35 of the second period, and Abdelkader scored his 16th goal of the season at 10:24 to tie it 1-1.
Clarkson was in the paint to score off a rebound at 17:36 of the second to put Columbus back in front. With his back to the net, the puck ended up in Clarkson's skates, and he whacked it in for his second goal and his 200th NHL point.
Video: DET@CBJ: Savard opens the scoring on the power play
Jenner tied injured forward Brandon Saad for the Blue Jackets lead with his 24th goal at 00:26 of the third period for a 3-1 advantage.
Blashill said he was surprised the Red Wings didn't have much push to begin the game.
"We have winners in our room," he said. "Generally, our guys recognize the urgency of the moment. We didn't recognize the urgency of the moment. I'm not sure how they had more urgency than us, but they did. So we better pick it up here right away."
Video: Atkinson leads Blue Jackets past Red Wings in 5-3 win