The Detroit Red Wings enter tonight’s game only five points out of third place in the Atlantic. An inspired performance by Petr Mrazek against the Nashville Predators has earned him his third consecutive start as Detroit welcomes one of the NHL’s elite to Joe Louis Arena. The Columbus Blue Jackets have a tentative hold on second place in the Eastern Conference, having managed only three points out of their last five games, but come to Detroit boasting a trio of All-Stars and the best power play in the NHL.
Riley Sheahan wins the opening face-off and Tomas Tatar has an early chance but rips the shot wide. Anthony Mantha and Gustav Nyquist follow up with an opportunity of their own and the Wings are off to a quick start.
The Red Wings are all over Columbus and they are rewarded. Sheahan grinds along the boards and keeps possession of the puck. Dylan Larkin picks up the puck from him on the half wall and finds Nick Jensen in the slot who rifles a slap-shot past Bobrovsky. 1-0 Detroit.
Columbus looks to be in on a 2v1 break, but a wonderful back-check by Nyquist disrupts the opportunity.
The Blue Jackets start to get their own momentum going and score off a bad angle shot. Brandon Dubinsky has his first shot attempt blocked, but he gets his own rebound and sneaks one between Mrazek and the post. 1-1.
dubi broke twitter pic.twitter.com/21uyDrYDPd— ColumbusBlueJackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 8, 2017
Brendan Smith takes a hard check and Mantha steps up for his teammate by taking on Scott Hartnell. Don’t want to see one of the best goal scorers fighting, but he did a good job tying up Hartnell and getting the takedown.
With four minutes remaining in the first, Dubinsky finds Cam Atkinson in the slot for the goal. No back-check pressure from the forwards gives Atkinson all the time he needs to put one past Mrazek. 2-1 Columbus.
Shots: DET: 14 CBJ: 10
Score: DET: 1 CBJ: 2
Columbus takes a penalty with 12:46 left. Scott Harrington for cross-checking. Matt Calvert gets the first opportunity short-handed, but Mrazek makes the save. Smith gets tripped by Atkinson and the Wings go 5v3 for 1:08. POWERPLAY GOAL!!!!! Justin Abdelkader comes in 2v1 and sends a great pass past Jones and Vanek taps it in. 2-2.
Still a minute left on the advantage, but nothing comes of it. Halfway point of the period goes by with shots tied at 15 and score tied at 2.
Danny DeKeyser does a spin around at the point and gives the puck to Mike Green who dangles and gets a good shot on net. Wings are back to controlling this game. Larkin finds Jonathan Ericsson in the slot, but he can’t get the puck elevated as Bobrovsky makes a solid save.
Uh-oh. Jensen takes a holding penalty with six minutes left in the second, but the Wings are able to keep the best power-play in the NHL off the scoreboard for now.
The period comes to an end with two Andreas Athanasiou almost chances and the Wings are even with Columbus at two after two.
Shots: DET: 7 (21) CBJ: 7 (17)
Score: DET: 2 CBJ: 2
Athanasiou almost snipes Bobrovsky from a shallow angle. His quick release caught the Columbus net-minder off guard.
The puck is pulled off the boards by Larkin and he cuts to the net for an opportunity, but isn’t able to get much on the backhand as it flutters into Bobrovsky’s chest.
Henrik Zetterberg has been working hard all game. He puts in a very strong shift with Abdelkader and Nyquist. Zetterberg gets a good shot off and ends up knocked over by Werenski.
5:21 left in the third and Glendening goes to the box for tripping. PK guys were out there for over a minute before the Wings could get a clear, but Detroit grinds out a second kill.
Hartnell tries to go full Dr. Hook McCracken on Smith with 16 seconds left. The linesman stops the fight much to Mickey’s dismay and both go off for two minute slashing penalties.
Wings earn a point and the game goes to OT.
Shots: DET: 3 (24) CBJ: 7 (24)
Score: DET: 2 CBJ: 2
Darren Helm gets a 2v1 break, but the puck is knocked off his stick.
Detroit is back-checking hard, playing very strong on both ends in this 3v3 OT.
Zetterberg gets his stick sashed in half by Dubinsky, no call. Jones scores on the following transition back down the ice. Game over. 3-2 Columbus OT.
Shots: DET: 2 (26) CBJ: 3 (27)
Score: DET: 2 CBJ: 3
The Wings started out strong, dominating most of the first 10 minutes of the game. A weak goal by Mrazek and a non-existent back-check on the second goal resulted in a one goal deficit after the first. But the Wings were resilient and followed up with another good period and tied the game. Detroit didn’t have much going in the offensive zone in the third, and ended up with only one point in a game where it felt like they should have gotten two.
Mrazek was not very good tonight. The first goal was soft, but I had more of a problem with the second goal. He does not land his wide butterfly and the top of his pads don’t seal the 5-hole. His stick also floats away and the puck is able to slide through. Mrazek is at his best when he can break from his technique and use his athletic ability to make saves that he has no business making, but this second goal was a complete failure on his part. He did regain his composure and play well after the second goal, but the Wings need him to step-up to win. I know he can’t play like he did in Nashville every night, but the Wings need more from him to win.
After 20 years of re-building, Columbus is friggin good. The players I find myself coveting the most are Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Werenski looks like the complete package and could dominate for the next decade if not longer. Jones is not on the same level with offensive creativity, but he looks like a perfect compliment to Werenski.
That was 100% a penalty on Zetterberg in OT. A no look “rusty gate” check/slash should always be a penalty. It was a frustrating way to lose a point.
Positives: Face-offs were good. Won 56% of them. Power play goals are nice. The team played well on the kill. Overall a very solid game. It feels like the Wings are going in the right direction, but they don’t have any margin for error if they want to make the playoffs.
Till next time, Go Wings!