Another shutout would have been fantastic to get this team back on track, but hey a win is a win. How did it happen? Did the Wings start on-time? Is the meaning of life STILL 42? Let’s dig in…
Well, we get our answer pretty fast about the team starting on time… barely a few minutes have passed before Compher and Raymond connect on a couple of heads-up plays. After losing the puck in the offensive zone, Compher decides to pressure Sean Kuraly. Kuraly loses an edge, and Compher is right there to snag the puck for a dish to Raymond. Cutting to the back of the net, Raymond looks like he’s going for a wrap-around and Columbus netminder Spencer Martin moves early… only for Raymond to hit the brakes and jam the puck in while Martin has no chance to get a leg over and cover. 1-0 good guys, and it’s nice to see at least a couple guys making smart and fast decisions.
About 40 seconds later, sustained pressure leads to more good things for the good guys. With Petry (did you know Jeff Petry is the son of Tigers pitcher Dan Petry?) launching a shot from the point, Fischer moves low and recovers the rebound. As eyes shift to the puck, the Columbus defenders leave a freshly rebuilt Robby Fabbri alone net-front, who knows exactly what’s coming. Fischer skirts the puck past Martin right onto Fabbri’s stick, and Fabs shuffles it into the high far corner. Martin has zero chance on this one, and the Wings are now up 2-0 before Columbus even has a shot on goal.
I hope nobody was thinking “Wow, wouldn’t it be great if we could keep this pressure up for 60 minutes”… About a minute after the Fabbri goal, Sprong gets stripped of the puck by Damon Severson. In half a second, Severson has already identified Alex Texier cherry picking behind Justin Holl and hits him with a bullseye breakout pass. Streaking in unobstructed on Husso, Texier beats him clean and cuts the Wings lead to 1.
The goal wakes the Wings back up for a bit, but Columbus obviously feels like they’re in the game now too. Play goes back and forth for a while until Fabbri takes a hooking penalty with about 6:30 left in the period. The Wings execute a successful kill, but you can see the Blue Jackets getting momentum with a couple good shots.
The Hockey Gods sense the momentum shift, and decide to reward the Blue Jackets with a supremely fortuitous bounce. On a break into the zone, Kiril Marchenko tries a Lidstrom-esque pass off the back boards. The puck, shot high and hard, goes right to Adam Fantilli who swats it mid-air past an out of position Husso who was caught watching the streaking puck instead of reacting to it. Just like that, it’s knotted at 2s as the period comes to a close.
An early penalty by Chiarot results in a whole lot of nothing by the Blue Jackets, but it’s time that passes without much in the way of driving play for the Wings too. About 6:00 in, Petry lets a pass get thru that he absolutely should have had. Kuraly ends up with the puck and a clean look on Husso, and takes a shot glove side. Husso might have gotten a piece of it, but it still gets thru and ends up in the back of the net for a 3-2 Blue Jackets lead.
This has the feeling of a game about to go off the rails, given how the last 8 games have played out. Fortunately, this team seems to know how to respond to being down (even if that takes a while sometimes). After two Powerplay opportunities that amount to nothing more than 4:00 off the clock (and only a +1 SOG differential for the Wings), DeBrincat gets the chance to set up in his office (yeah Ovi, it’s HIS now with how you’re starting your season) with the Wings trying to set up the cycle. Hustling to beat a Blue Jacket to the puck, Petry gets a clean pass directly to The Cat who does exactly what we expect him to do. I’m not sure Martin even saw that one before the horn went off, and the game is tied up late in the period.
*Billy Mays voice* BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! Fabbri and DeBrincat’s goals reminded our shooters that Spencer Martin CAN be picked… so Sprong decides it’s his turn to do so. Taking advantage of a bad outlet pass that ricochets like it’s in a pinball machine, Kostin ends up with the puck on his stick but facing the wrong way. Hitting an open Sprong in-stride, #88 whips a quick one over Martin’s glove shoulder and suddenly it’s 4-3 as the period comes to a close.
The Red Wings come out swinging with some sustained pressure in the Columbus zone. After a few cross-crease passes that get Martin moving, Walman launches a clapper from the point that catches Kiril Marchenko in the shins. The puck still finds its way deep in the zone and, with a wicked wobble, bounces off the boards and into Spencer Martin’s back. Martin swivels to make the save, but can’t handle anything cleanly with Fabbri crashing in. The puck sneaks into the net off Walman’s crazy deflected shot, and we’ve rebuilt our original 2-goal lead.
Columbus wasn’t about to just give up though. Trading jabs for a few minutes, the Jackets end up with a moment of sustained pressure and manage to make it count. Patrik Laine finds himself open at the low point with the puck on his stick as the Wings finish killing off a penalty. Even though it looks like Husso and Copp have the net covered, Laine shows how dangerous he can be with time and space and places his shot perfectly.
The Jackets are now within 1 with plenty of time left, but the Wings want this one. They NEED this one. Despite a few more lingering chances, the Wings keep the Jackets from getting anything really sustained pressure going. A few late chances miss their marks as the final horn sounds, and the game ends with the good guys on top.
For a system that’s supposed to be defense first, this team sure found ways to create some bad defensive looks. Texier, Kuraly, and Laine all found themselves alone on their goals. Petry couldn’t handle the puck and couldn’t play the body on the Kuraly goal, but Lalonde & Co need to talk to specific players about why Texier and Laine were allowed to be alone and open.
Husso looked more like Hu’s-So-So on all 4 goals. I get that it’s a roll of the dice when you’re 1-on-1 with a guy, but he needs to find a way to get at least 1 of the 3 where Blue Jackets were all alone. On the Fantilli goal, he got caught tracking the puck instead of reacting to it. Getting back to his home position instead of twirling in the crease to face the puck probably gets the stop. I don’t think any of these were 100% his fault, but I bet he wants at least the Fantilli and Kuraly goals back. Those are absolutely the kinds of saves this team needs against better opponents.
Shooting the puck works! Martin (and for that matter, Husso too) showed that shooters could pick their spots on him and we got 3 solid goals that way. Fabbri, DeBrincat, and Sprong all went high – counter to Martin’s movement on Fabs’ effort, and high glove side from DeBrincat and Sprong. #93 and #88 both needed to light the lamp, and hopefully this reminds them both that they can do so if they can find half of a second of freedom with the puck.
Overall, I’m happy with the 2 points but need to see a more complete game from the team. I need to see a Lyon start too – put Husso up in the press box for a night not as a punishment but for a night off and to watch what’s happening in the defensive zone and take some notes. And, please, let’s see an Edvinsson call-up soon…