Well that was badly needed after the dumpster fire that was Sunday night. Columbus certainly had their moments and chances, but a great game from Howard combined with a very good one from the skaters resulted in a comfortable win against a mediocre team. For the first time all season, the Red Wings notched 40 shots on goal. It took 18 games for that to happen, and I suspect it's been awhile since it's taken that many games for a 40 shot game. As an added bonus, we saw dry spells from Jurco, Sheahan, and Helm all snapped, which is a relief for everybody.
The Wings started off the first period reasonably strong until a bad turnover in front of the net off an Ericsson pass nearly results in a goal for Columbus, but Henrik Zetterberg saved a goal. Detroit's first goal was created by one of Brendan Smith's patented "nononononoyesyesYES" plays when he initially mishandles a puck, then in trying to salvage a turnover waiting to happen somehow manages to no-look backhand it to Ericsson who fires it on net, and Tatar is there to clean up the rebound. From there, Columbus managed to take control of the second half of the first period, including a questionably overturned goal off a Boone Jenner kick.
The second period was an improvement, with Detroit generally controlling play for the first 12 minutes. It wasn't quite a dominating performance, but it was certainly a strong one. Wings got their first PP of the game, and some solid puck movement and net-crashing eventually led to a juicy rebound which Nyquist promptly buried. Columbus came to life in the final 7 minutes of the period, but Jimmy Howard made a string of extremely impressive saves to keep the Jackets off the board.
The third period was just a wonderful, happy experience. Rather than choke away yet another third period lead as the team did so often last year, a trio of goals from three cold-shooting players all went in. The Sheahan goal in particular was a very sharp sequence by Abby, Tatar, Smith, and Sheahan. Extra credit to Tatar for freezing the defense and Smith for smartly joining the rush. Smith had quite a game himself, which makes it a little easier to forgive the stupid fight he had with Foligno when Detroit was up 4-0. The rest of the third period was peacefully quiet as Howard preserved his shutout and Helm buried a goal that probably felt more important than a goal to go up 5 has any right being.
Stray Notes and Observations
- It's easy to say this on a multi-point night, but Tomas Tatar looked a lot sharper with the puck tonight. I feel like he's had a few games of "one too many moves" - but tonight he was smart and dangerous every time he touched the puck. Nice to see him back on his game tonight
- When you see a 5-0 final score you generally assume the goaltender had an easy shutout, but that was not really the case tonight. Howard had probably 3 saves in particular where I don't think we would have faulted him too much for letting them in, and a couple more generally difficult saves on top of that. He probably deserves a rest at some point soon if Babcock trusts Mrazek enough to give him a shot.
- I really like coming out and stepping on their throats with a 2-0 lead in the third rather than pulling back and trying to hold onto the lead. It felt like the way the Wings used to win games a few years ago, which was refreshing.
- Lashoff was pretty underwhelming again, and we almost have to hope Kindl's absence is either a trade in the works or an undisclosed health thing, or else Kindl really ought to be playing instead.
- Detroit has a really soft stretch of games coming up now against Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Philadelphia, and New Jersey. Now is the time to "make hay" as Mickey Redmond would say.