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Wings Battle Back to Beat Blue Jackets 5-3

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After watching 3-goal lead evaporate in 3rd, Wings show resolve to capture win

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wings came into this road contest against Columbus attempting their first back to back wins of the season down a couple players to recent injuries. Andreas Athanasiou and Frans Nielsen who were part of the victory over Dallas on Sunday night did not partake in his contest. Joonas Korpisalo got the start for the Blue Jackets, a common trend of backup goaltenders facing off against the Wings this year. For Detroit, Jimmy Howard was back in net after Bernier picked up the victory in the previous contest.

For Columbus Artemi Panarin had a hot start to the season with 15 points in 10 games to open his season. One player to keep an eye on this evening for the Wings was Rasmussen being put at centre tonight after burning the first year of his entry level deal playing in his 10th game. That will more or less guarantee he won’t be sent back to juniors this year. Witkowski was slated to play at both forward and defence tonight as an interchangeable piece so look for lots of line juggling.

1st Period

The Wings came out with good jump to open the game with Mantha drawing an early hook in the first minute after making a move to the centre and carrying into the offensive zone. The Wings did not take long to capitalise on the chance with a pretty bang-bang play. Nyquist from the left boards passed it down to Vanek behind the goal line who one-touched the puck back to the slot to Rasmussen who made no mistake with a one timer beating Korpisalo with a shot to the far post. Rasmussen finds his first of his career and the player to watch makes his mark early. 1-0 Wings.

The Wings spent the next couple shifts not being able to get any traction getting out of their own end. The Mantha-Larkin-Helm got the jump going again with Mantha in particular showing some speed, leaving a drop pass for Cholowski who put a shot on net. Shortly after though the Wings gave up body position on a driving Columbus player and Abdelkader took a slashing call sending Columbus to the powerplay. Columbus wasn’t able to generate anything of real danger on the powerplay, and instead a turnover at the offensive blue line led to a puck race involving Larkin. Larkin made a deft move to slap away the stick of a diving Seth Jones to gain clean puck possession, made a leg kick move on Korpisalo before tucking a back hand in five hole, 2-0 Wings. A great play by Larkin showcasing his speed, IQ with the stick check, and smooth hands on the move.

At about the halfway mark of the period, Vanek got in an awkward collision away from the puck at centre ice and hopefully isn’t too worse for wear. A couple shifts later Cholowski made a very pretty no look backhand pass to Nyquist from the halfboards that Nyquist couldn’t quite find the net with. On the next shift Larkin sprung Mantha with a stretch pass on a 2 on 1 with Helm. Mantha with the keeper on the play and beat Korpisalo with a well placed shot to the far post, blocker side, 3-0 Wings.

Giving up 3 goals on 8 shots in less than 14 minutes was enough for Columbus to pull the plug on Korpisalo’s night, and in came Bobrovsky to try and turn the tide.

Late in the period Frk found himself on the ice with the Larkin-Mantha tandem. He quickly got the puck entering up the middle of Columbus zone off a nice drop pass from Mantha. Frk narrowly missed the strong side post and almost picked up his own rebound off the backboards. The scramble play led to a terrific chance for Mantha in the crease to put one by a sprawling Bobrovsky but he couldn’t connect. The pace picked up quickly after that in the closing minute of the period with both teams exchanging chances. Werenski came close on Howard, and immediately after Mantha and Nyquist had a 2 on 1 in the final seconds of the period. Nyquist couldn’t quite control the Mantha pass and the puck ended up behind the net to close the period.

The Mantha-Larkin-(Insert Forward Here) line was clearly the most dangerous grouping on either team in the opening frame. There wasn’t much to recall from any other combination beyond the powerplay marker by Rasmussen. The Wings wrapped the period up with a 11-10 shot disadvantage to Columbus but limited them to very few shots from dangerous positions.

2nd Period

It was noted to open the period that Vanek’s return was doubtful, and the replay shows it is likely a left knee issue. So expect to see more of Witkowski up front to fill the ranks.

Early on Rasmussen fired a hard shot on Bobrovsky from between the dot and hash marks but Bobrovsky made a nice blocker save on a dangerous chance. On the following shift Duclair beat Howard with a shot but not the crossbar. Columbus with another chance afterwards when Hannikainen was left alone out front on a pass from behind the net but Howard with a nice save on the play. Columbus started to tilt the ice through the early portion of the this period.

Following a lengthy shift in their own zone, the Wings took a penalty on a Ericsson hooking call as Anderson made a move to the front of the next for Columbus. Columbus moved the puck well around the outside of the zone, but Dubois made an obvious hook on Jensen when he attempted to clear the zone. The result was about 40 seconds of 4 on 4 time before the Wings went to the powerplay. After looking disjointed for a bit, the Wings started to move the puck around well on the powerplay, in particular Kronwall and Cholowski. But no shots found their way to the net and immediately after the powerplay expired Larkin caught Panarin with a high stick sending the Blue Jackets back to the powerplay. Abdelkader was slow to get up after blocking a shot early on the powerplay but remained on the ice. No real Grade A chances for Columbus throughout the man advantage and the game returned to even strength.

The next real notable chance came off the stick of Larkin as he crossed across the top of the circle to the right of Bobrovsky and fire a shot through a Helm screen with Helm nearly knocking in the rebound. On the next shift Panarin found himself on a breakaway after getting behind the Wings defense making a move to the backhand but Howard tracked it the whole way. The Wings transitioned the puck the other way quickly with Larkin feeding Helm for a one timer on a 2 on 1 but Bobrovsky managed to get across. The speed both ways definitely picked up as the period waned down. In the final 30 seconds of the period, Green lost positioning on Dubois as he drove to the net and took a slash on the play sending Columbus to it’s fourth powerplay. Howard took a stick up high on the play but was fine. Columbus didn’t put any shots on net before the period closed out.

Other than giving Columbus too many powerplay chances with four to this point, the Wings had been doing a good job of limiting the Blue Jackets for the most part. The Wings took a 12-10 shot advantage in the period, leading the Blue Jackets 22-21 overall.

There was a segment during the period where they showed Tortorella’s comments about the players being too friendly and it being a “hug fest” out there now and “no hate”. I don’t know that having that is a bad thing. With so much focus and rightfully so on head shots, it might be beneficial to have these players aware of the human on the other side of that collision. As for the “no hate”, sure one could argue these games don’t involve as much animosity as they used to. But a large portion of that could be attributed to the game’s shift in focus to being more about skill than grit. Also watching any playoff series would demonstrate there’s still plenty of hate out there.

3rd Period

To open the period, Jensen took a quick shot on Bobrovsky as he drove the right wing. Larkin cracked a smile at Jensen as he held his pose out front as though he was demonstrating he was open. The remark was made in jest. Panarin had a chance from the slot but elected to attempt a pass across to a teammate that caught Eriscsson’s skate. The Wings killed the remainder of the carry over penalty from the 2nd period and proceeded with protecting their three goal lead for the remainder of the game.

However that three goal lead quickly became a two goal lead after the Wings got beat on a stretch pass from Murray to Hannikainen who made a behind the back pass to Anderson. Anderson fanned on the shot which got Howard to drop and he was lucky to get a second attempt at it and beat a sprawled Howard, 3-1 Wings.

Not long after the goal, the Wings Rasmussen took a slashing penalty. This was obviously not the shutdown start to the final frame the Wings were looking for. But the Wings managed to kill off the penalty, but Columbus was pressing hard to inch this game closer. Jimmy Howard faced a few tests in the first half of this period and weathered the storm holding off the charging Blue Jackets as his team in front of him tried to find their bearings. Columbus managed to hit a post and continued to pressure the Wings. Eventually the Blue Jackets managed to find Nutivaara alone out front who one timed it to the top corner, 3-2 Wings.

The Wings were crumbling in front of Howard and still had 10 minutes remaining to hang on. Dubois sensed blood in the water and made a solo rush up ice before driving outside. He put a shot over Howard to the short side who gave up far too much space on that side and very quickly this game was then tied, 3-3.

The Wings scrambled to regroup before this game got away from them. The Blue Jackets missed a wide open net with 6 minutes left for a chance to take the lead. Even seeing the replay it’s difficult to believe they missed as Howard was far out of position.

Abdelkader laid a boom in the Columbus zone catching the Blue Jackets player off guard on the half boards hoping to turn the momentum. The Blue Jackets to this point had taken over this game and had the Wings hoping to limp into overtime. The Wings finally managed to get some pressure in the last few minutes of the period with Bertuzzi working the puck down low before throwing it to the point to Cholowski. Cholowski worked his way around the zone behind the net and returned a pass to Bertuzzi who put a nice backhander over Bobrovsky with about 4 minutes to play, 4-3 Wings.

The scramble was on with a second chance to hold a lead, this time by one with just a few minutes to play. The Wings did a good job in these remaining minutes limiting the Blue Jackets’ chances. The Blue Jackets pulled Bobrovsky with 1:15 to play. Larkin reeled in a loose puck and fired it the length of the ice and found the empty net with 0:45 remaining, 5-3 Wings.

Wrapping Up

Rasmussen showed pretty well throughout this game, rewarding the team for allowing him to cross the ten game threshold to initiate his entry level deal. Larkin had a terrific game and is doing his best to put this team on his back the same way he watched Zetterberg do so. Mantha also had a good night but seemed to fade as the game went along.

Say what you will about some of these somewhat polarising players but the Wings have a large hole to fill if the combination of Athanasiou, Nielsen, and now Vanek miss significant time. De La Rose as the second line center is not ideal to say the least.

If you exclude the first 10:00 of the 3rd, the Wings did a good job defensively all night on Columbus. Obviously those few minutes were a full meltdown but promising nonetheless. The Wings beat the Jackets to get their first winning streak of the season, hopefully with more to come.

Update on Vanek: