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Red Wings Sweep Weekend with 4-1 Win Over Columbus

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Winning is Fun!

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

First Period

Erne and Helm had the first really strong opportunity of the period, with Erne muscling through traffic to pass the puck in front of the crease to Helm, but the pass was broken up. Erne has had a real good stretch of games lately, and when he’s been bad, the entire team has been bad.

Helm got away with a slashing penalty on Cam Atkinson, which led to a series of icings by the Jackets. It all led to another great opportunity for Mantha and Ryan. Detroit came into the early going of the game looking to play with an edge, obviously, because they were in the Jackets’ faces, to the point that if I was a Jackets fan I might be a bit frustrated with the lack of calls.

It’s the sort of game that benefits a player like Helm, who was given a little space entering the Columbus zone, who dished it to Svechnikov. Svech lined up the most beautiful long range wrister I think we’ve seen from Detroit this year and blew it past Merzlikins to give Detroit an early 1-0 lead!

The torrent from Detroit wouldn’t cease even after the goal as Columbus struggled to deal with the pressure being applied by the Red Wings. Detroit would even set up the cycle in Columbus’s zone a couple times, just like the good old days.

Columbus would make their best effort to even things up in the last two minutes, but they couldn’t make anything of it. That’s a second good start in a row against Columbus.

Score: 1-0 Red Wings
Shots: 7-3 Red Wings
Stand Ups: Svechnikov, Mantha, Helm
Sit Downs: No one

Second Period

The period started with the announcement that Bobby Ryan wouldn’t be returning after an upper body injury suffered in the first period.

The news didn’t seem to faze Mantha, though, who hackey-sacked the puck all the way through the Jackets’ zone better than even better than the kids in the parking lot at my high school could have done.

The Wings kept pouring it on with a great shift by Namestnikov, Gagner, Mantha, Hronek, and Merrill. They had a couple grade A scoring opportunities and the Jackets took exception, but a series of penalties would go against the Wings with them ultimately down a man as Anthony Mantha went to the box.

The Wings handled the penalty kill, well, though, and transitioned back onto the offensive seamlessly. An encouraging sign from a maturing team, for sure.

Detroit would continue to get great opportunities throughout the period, but unfortunately Elvis Merzlikins continued to have a great game through the second period. It would not be unrealistic to see Detroit with a 2-0 or 3-0 lead by now if not for his strong game.

On the other end, Seth Jones got a nice chance with about 8 minutes remaining in the period, but Pickard made a nice save to preserve the lead. While Pickard wasn’t tested nearly as much, he made some nice saves as well.

He wouldn’t stop them all, tough. The puck would end up down low and then kicked up the board by Djoos, but in a motion similar to the Svechnikov goal, Oliver Bjorkstrand launched a wrister from the central perimeter that would get redirected by Roslovic to tie the game 1-1.

Detroit would make a solid effort to regain the league before the period ended, but to no avail, leaving the final frame as the decider.

Score: 1-1 Tie
Shots: 21-11 Red Wings
Stand Ups: Mantha
Sit Downs: Djoos and Ras didn’t play the puck the best on the CBJ goal.

Third Period

The Wings got back to work in the third period with another series of good chance early on. Regardless of the result, you could feel good as a fan watching this game knowing the effort-level. A year ago after a 7-1 blowout, Detroit wouldn’t come back like this in two consecutive games.

The Wings would gain entry on what the NBCSN crew would generously call a 3-on-2. Fabbri fired wide of Merzlikins and Ras crashed the net, but crash isn’t really a great word to describe the shot itself because it was more of a soft nudge (which was exactly what was needed in this situation) to slip it 5-hole and make it 2-1 Red Wings!

Tortorella would challenge the goal but it wouldn’t be called back and since Columbus had already used its timeout, it would send Detroit to the power play. If Detroit scored it would have been an absolute dagger, but instead the power play was really ineffectual.

The game would start to feel the magic of scoring effects late in the period, but all things considered, the Wings weathered the storm well by doing the things that they’d done well all game: getting sticks in lanes, playing gritty and physical, and forming rank around their net when necessary. The forecheck also did good work, chewing up 30 seconds late in the period when Tortorella could have pulled Merzlikins.

Eventually Merzlikins would make his way to the bench, but only with about two minutes left. Hronek would notch his second empty-netter of the season by corralling a misplayed puck and scoring from nearly the entire length of the ice to make it 3-1 Red Wings. On the ensuing faceoff the Wings clogged up the neutral zone and Mantha made a nice little tap pass to his super best friend, Namestnikov, to set up another empty netter, 4-1 Red Wings!

Score: 4-1 Red Wings
Shots: 29-17 Red Wings
Stand Ups: Pickard, Rasmussen
Sit Downs: Great team effort, no thumbs downs for anybody.

Conclusion

What a fun couple of games we’ve had this weekend. Great overall effort from Detroit to bounce back after that embarrassment on Thursday in Nashville. It was easy to be dismayed Thursday and Friday, especially when you looked at how similar the team’s record is this year to last year. But the difference is that a year ago, something like these two games against Columbus wouldn’t have happened. I still believe this team, while not great, is better than their record indicates.

The Wings are back in action on Tuesday with a tilt against Florida.