Coming off a victory against the Edmonton Oilers and two days rest, the Red Wings had all the tools they needed to grab two points today. Despite a good start to the game, the Wings could not hold on to their lead, allowing the Blue Jackets to score three consecutive goals.
The Wings' spot in the playoffs is not being threatened, but hopes of catching the Montreal Canadiens or Tampa Bay Lightning are dwindling. And, at the same time, the Wings have to look over their shoulder to make sure that the Boston Bruins do not catch them, pushing the Wings into a wildcard playoff spot.
Today's game was disappointing, and here is how it all happened:
Midway through the first period, the deadlock broke. A high-stick by Luke Adam on Tomas Jurco resulted in a four-minute powerplay for the Red Wings. After some initial shot attempts, including a rocket by Teemu Pulkkinen, Marek Zidlicky would released a one-time shot which deflected off of Justin Abdelkader, passing Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Wings the 1-0 lead.
The lead would not last for long. After the Wings' goal, the Blue Jackets mounted a couple of minutes of intense pressure, resulting in a goal by Fedor Tyutin. Jimmy Howard could not do much to counter the goal; the Wings were simply out-worked during this stretch of play.
Three minutes later, coming off of a Red Wings' powerplay, the tides of the game would take a final turn. Scott Hartnell, standing right in front of Jimmy Howard, released a shot that passed right through Howard's pads to give the Blue Jackets the 2-1 lead.
The second period was initially fairly eventless, with the Wings and Blue Jackets exchanging powerplays, and with both teams having some decent chances. Henrik Zetterberg came close to tying the game up when he nearly completed a wrap-around shot, but he lost control of the puck before he could bury it in the Blue Jackets' net.
Things changed when Justin Abdelkader decided to take matters into his own hands. After a Blue Jacket shoved Henrik Zetterberg to the ice, Abby went after Corey Tropp, before fighting Kevin Connauton. The fight was overall an even contest between the two, but since I am a Red Wings' fan, Abdelkader clearly won the battle.
With a little over a minute left to play in the period, the Blue Jackets delivered the decisive blow to the Wings. Cam Atkinson skated right through the Wings' defense to give the Blue Jackets a two-goal lead. The Wings' fourth-line was out for the goal, along with Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall, the former not being the speediest skater that the Wings' lineup boasts.
Despite having played a poor second period and a mediocre first period, the Wings still had a chance to grab a point in this game, if things went well in the game's final period.
What resulted was a series of blown powerplay opportunities, missed chances, turnovers, and poor passes that led to the Wings ending the game without a point. It was a frustrating and painful end to the game, knowing that the Wings had the ability to come from behind and win the game.
The Wings played neither a good nor a bad game against the Blue Jackets. To put it plainly, it was a mediocre performance by an underachieving team who kept on paying for its many mistakes.
There were, however, a couple of positive things that I took away from the game. For one, the Marek Zidlicky trade is proving to have been a worthy investment. He keeps producing, and I think that he was the perfect fit for our powerplay.
Teemu Pulkkinen and Brendan Smith both had good games as well. Pulkkinen looked determined to score, and while he was unable to convert his shots into goals, he always seemed eager when he had the puck, and was always a threat to score. Once he has acclimated himself to the NHL, he is going to be great offensive player for the Wings.
It was a tough loss, and the Wings need to get back to winning form. As long as today's game remains an anomaly, there is no need to be too concerned.
Next up for the Red Wings are the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
Let's Go Red Wings!