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Wings can’t capitalize, drop 3-2 decision to the Jackets

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Columbus Blue Jackets v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

The Blue Jackets came into Detroit looking for their first win of the season after losing two straight to Nashville, but for the first half of the game it looked like the Jackets didn’t want it that badly. Of course, the Red Wings caught their hair on fire, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s the nitty-gritty of the Sunday-afternoon tilt.

First Period

Before the announcers could even finish announcing that Nielsen and Rasmussen were in for Fabbri and Erne for COVID protocol, Nielsen got a nice little shot on goal to open things up for Detroit. In fact, the whole early going of the period was… fun? Detroit came out faster and with crisper passes (!!!) to generate more chances. Through the first five minutes the only dangerous chance came when a streaking Blue Jacket gained some separation from Hronek on a breakaway, but Greiss shut down the CBJ opportunity nicely.

Columbus started pushing the ice in their direction, but a TV break came in just in-time to give the Wings the opportunity to regroup. Larkin’s line was able to regain the momentum in Detroit’s favor, leading to a golden Bertuzzi opportunity on Korpisalo’s doorstep. Bertuzzi went diving for the puck and just couldn’t get enough precision on the shot. The stretching Korpisalo was able to get a pad out and keep the game scoreless.

Following that, Rasmussen won a clean draw on Korpisalo’s left, Ryan drifted into the circle, snapped, and score! 1-0 Red Wings! Great, precise, quick shot to the right side of the right.

Columbus began pushing hard and drew a penalty on a Seth Jones breakaway, leading to about a minute of controlled zone time. Seth Jones was awarded the penalty shot, tried to be patient, dragging the puck to Greiss’s right, but Greiss fished the puck away from Jones before he even had a chance to make the shot.

For those at home keeping score: eleven minutes! It took eleven minutes to bring up the Larkin-Werenski connection, however weakly.

Detroit kept pouring it on in a fashion I don’t recall seeing very often last year. Rasmussen and Zadina even had a nice little breakaway opportunity, but a sprawling Columbus defensemen broke up the pass. You really want to see Rasmussen take the shot there, but the raw materials of the play were encouraging.

Fifteen-and-a-half minutes if your Larkin/Werenski Bingo requires specific mention of their time together at U of M.

Bertuzzi robbed again off a great, strong play by Mantha. Second robbery on Bertuzzi of the period. Of course, he had a real bad turnover trying to be too cute with a no-look pass to Mantha on the next sequence, leading to a real good Columbus opportunity, so I’ll take back the ncie things I was going to say about the Larkin line.

(They won every shift except two.)

Score: 1-0 Red Wings

Shots: 13-8 Red Wings

Stand Outs: Everybody. This was the strongest period of Detroit hockey in a very long time. If you want to pin that on someone, you have to pin that on Blashill.

Sit Downs: Nobody

Second Period:

Larkin drew a penalty early, leading to a Detroit power play.

Power play highlights:

Okay, moving on. Detroit continued to apply solid pressure with great opportunities for Ryan and Glendening that just didn’t get buried. Columbus generated a fair number of chances, too and overall looked better in the period’s early going than they did in the first period. Honestly, I was surprised to see the Jackets come out so flat-footed in the first period after losing their first two games.

This was a fast-paced game, but got even faster in the second as Columbus picked up their legs to keep pace with Detroit. One particularly great opportunity from Detroit was generated by Zadina knocking a puck out of the air in Columbus’s zone. Detroit generated at least two shots in the sequence. The kid just keeps doing good things in this early-going of the season. He later set up a nice centering pass for Merrill for a grade-A scoring chance.

With five minutes left in the period I was starting to run my fingers with the die hards of my hair line wondering when Detroit was going to finish an opportunity, but it was Columbus that capitalized when they maintained zone control for the better part of a minute and released a shot from near the blue line on Greiss. Greiss stopped the shot, but gave up a juicy rebound and Bjorkstrand cruised into the slot to beat Greiss high, 1-1 Tie Game.

Late in the period Boone Jenner was able to get behind Troy Stecher and allow what felt like the fifth Columbus breakaway this game. Columbus tried shoving Greiss and the puck across the crease, but the play was blown dead before Columbus could finish their shenanigans.

Columbus generally carried play as the period rounded out with each team looking much scarier than in the first period. The feeling that I was getting at least from my couch was that this game could go into OT or end up 4-1 in either direction.

Score: 1-1 Tie

Shots: 25-19 Red Wings

Stand Ups: Zadina, Ras, Merrill, Mantha, Greiss

Sit Downs: After last year no one seems worthy of this line, but Bert was really hot-and-cold, with some great scoring opportunities and some bad giveaways. Stetcher, too.

Third Period

The final frame started with Glendening winning his twelfth draw of the night. A big reason for Detroit’s overall control of the first two periods was due to being excellent in the circle. Probably for that reason, Bobby Ryan decided to throw them a bone and got a little over-excited covering Del Zotto, tripping him and sending Columbus to its first power play of the afternoon.

Good cycling by Columbus to start, cross-ice pass to Bemstrom but Greiss read it all the way and swallowed up a real nice one-timer. Detroit was able to clear on the next shift, but on their ensuing re-entry into Detroit ice Bemstrom ricocheted the puck off the cross bar, narrowly keeping the game tied.

Detroit killed off thepenalty, but within minutes Detroit started looking like their 2019-2020 selves, getting absolutely hemmed. Texier was allowed to circle the zone without coverage, wrap around the net, and slam one past Greiss to make it 2-1 Blue Jackets. Larkin’s line tried to quickly recover, but the overall effort looked rushed. The appropriate metaphor seemed to be “they radiate more heat than light.”

All those breakaway opportunities against Stetcher finally paid off for Columbus as Pierre Luc Dubois was able to go in alone on Greiss and bury it. 3-1 Blue Jackets. Also, seven minutes into the period and Detroit looked like themselves from last year, shot-less and in complete disarray. Blashill called a timeout to try righting the ship, and a tv timeout mercifully came shortly after.

After the break Blashill blended the lines, but honestly, I’m not opposed to it in this situation. Nemetsnikov took a puck to the face and we went to a break, so we went to another break, then when we came back Bertuzzi tee’d up Mantha nicely, but Mantha just couldn’t bury it. A nice turn around for their play, because before they break they weren’t going to get anything done.

Gavrikov tripped Bertuzzi on the next shift, allowing Detroit’s powerplay to get them back in the game. The top unit looked dangerous but didn’t produce where it counted. The second unit couldn’t get it done, either, leaving Detroit looking for two goals in five minutes.

Staal then had a wide open net on the rush after Korpisalo gave up a juicy rebound, but then puck went off the post. “Well, the Wings don’t deserve to win this now,” was my first thought.

We came back from the last TV break with Greiss on the bench with three minutes left. I appreciate the aggressiveness. Nemestsnikov was the extra attacker and made good work until a misplay by Mantha sent the puck the other way. Larkin made two great saves to preserve the score, and while that’s cool, you wish it didn’t need to happen.

Mantha did managed to sneak one past Korpisalo, but Columbus pushed Nemestnikov and Ryan into Korpisalo, which apparently means incidental contact now. I’m not one who typically argues with calls, but that absolutely should have been a good goal.

Oh my God, Larkin and Werenski started fighting in the scrum, throwing punches and everything. The melodrama continues.

Then the Toronto offices told the refs to come to their senses, calling it a good goal! It’s 3-2 game, and oh the humanity!

Detroit got one last opportunity via Mantha, but the puck took a weird bounce and never threatened the goal.

Score: 3-2 Blue Jackets

Shots: 37-29 Red Wings

Stand Ups: Mantha, Nemetsnikov

Sit Downs: I want to make sure Blashill gets credit for the start but also the breakdown in the third. Also, Marc Staal was having a decent game until late in the second, which carried into the third.

Conclusion

Going into this game I thought it would be a real tough one for Detroit to win, what with Columbus losing twice against the Preds and Tortorella being a real angry dude and all. However, the first two periods gave me a lot of hope, and that hope was crushed like the pathetic insect it is when the Red Wings came out in shambles to start the third period.

Overall not the most disconcerting loss, but it still feels like a let down. Fortunately the two teams get to work out their differences tomorrow. I wonder how long it will take the broadcast crew to mention Larkin and Werenski’s fight?