Game 63 Recap: Same Old Song and Dance

COLUMBUS, OH - FEBRUARY 28: Curtis Sanford #30 of the Columbus Blue Jackets makes the save in front of Todd Bertuzzi #44 of the Detroit Red Wings during their game at Nationwide Arena on February 28, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

The Jackets played two solid periods, dominating for much of the second period. The Wings weren't going to just roll over and die though, they're too damned good. They scored four unanswered goals in the third period to end up with a 5-2 win. Oh, and all of this was without Nick Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk.

Again, the Jackets were doomed by poor goaltending and again, the team's role players were their best players. A continuation of this trend will ensure that the Jackets hold fast in their 30th overall position.

Read on for the full recap, if you so desire.

First Period

I was curious to see how Nash would be received at the start of the game, or when he touched the puck. The fans didn't seem to react one way or the other, to me an indicator of the mental back-and-forth that most fans have been experiencing these past couple of days. Should you be angry at Nash? Should you support him 100%?

The game started off with some chippy play near the Columbus bench shortly after puck drop. Pleasantries were exchanged, but things didn't go further. The teams traded rushes early , with no real shots on-net. The first action came at the 2:02 mark when Derek MacKenzie was called for slashing. The Jackets were effective on the kill, with Colton Gillies showing great effort in intercepting a puck that led to a shorthanded scoring chance.

Just seconds after the penalty expired, the Wings got on the board. Johan Franzen was parked in front of Columbus starter Curtis Sanford, and gathered the puck in the blue paint. He jammed the puck towards the net, and was able to tuck in his rebound to give his team the lead.

1-0 Red Wings: Johan Franzen (Jakub KIndl, Dan Cleary)

The Jackets were given an opportunity to tie things up when Todd Bertuzzi was called for high-sticking at the 6:21 mark when he clipped Ryan Johansen in the head as the puck was dropped post-media timeout. It took the Jackets 34 seconds to tie the game. After a brief cycle of the puck to Detroit goalie Joey MacDonald's left, Nash gathered the puck and took it hard to the net. He was able to tuck it under MacDonald just as he was cross-checked from behind by Niklas Kronwall over MacDonald and into the net.

1-1: Rick Nash (Derick Brassard, James Wisniewski)

I was able to get my first real like at newcomer Darryl Boyce a few minutes later. He played the fourth line center role with Ryan Johansen and Ryan Russell on his wings. The shift was very short, but I saw a player with a lot of energy, though he is likely a warm body for the duration of the season. If he impresses enough he could earn a contract, but I'd rather keep Derek MacKenzie at that position.

Second liners Mark Letestu and Cam Atkinson came together on a decent scoring chance midway through the period, but MacDonald made the save and at the same time Atkinson was called for hooking. The Wings went to the powerplay, but just 28 seconds in Bertuzzi set the moving pick and was called for interference, putting the teams four-on-four. Neither team would score.

Just throwing this out there- Nikita Nikitin is a great passer.

At 13:44 Brett Lebda was called for tripping when Cory Emmerton of the Wings took a spill behind the Columbus net as the two raced for the loose puck. The Jackets were able to keep the score even after some great penalty killing, with Jack Johnson leading the way.

With 12 seconds left in the period, the Jackets' top line of Nash, Derick Brassard and R.J. Umberger went on the offensive. Umberger broke out of his zone with a head of steam, but was hooked as he crossed the line by Jiri Hudler.

End of the first period, 1-1.

Second Period

The Jackets started the period still on the man advantage, and although they had a couple of decent chances, they couldn't solve MacDonald. At the 4:21 mark they went back to the powerplay, however, after Ian White was sent to the box for slashing.

I must admit, though they couldn't score, the powerplay was a treat to watch. Wisniewski and Johnson were threatening from the points, Atkinson was buzzing around the hashmarks, and Nash was directing traffic. The puck movement was excellent, and gave fans a glimmer of hope- this team does have talented players, and can be exciting to watch.

Midway through the period the Jackets' fourth line put in a great energy shift. They hit everything in sight, and even had a scoring chance. They had to backcheck and break up an offensive chance for the Wings at one point, and were successful in doing so. Ryan Russell is making a serous case to be a full-time Jacket next season.

That shift seemed to give the Jackets some energy, with Umberger coming close to scoring twice on back-to-back sequences. Umberger is a player who must take full advantage of the remaining 20 games. He is a leader up front for the Jackets, and will need to provide more scoring and continued grit. Next season he and Vinny Prospal will be the veteran wingers in the top six, and a good finish to this season can lead into a good start next year.

At 7:27 the Jackets went back to the powerplay, after Hudler was sent off again- this time for tripping. Johnson started what looked like a good breakout from the Jackets' zone, and dropped the puck off for Mark Letestu. Letestu wasn't expecting it, and the Wings were able to gather the puck and streak in on Sanford. Atkinson raced back and was able to hook Dan Cleary at the last moment to prevent a Detroit shortie. It was one of those "good penalties". At the end of his penalty, Atkinson was sprung by Russell, but the puck was just out of reach, otherwise Atkinson would have had a clean look at MacDonald.

The Jackets were the better team in the second period, showing outstanding hustle.

End of the second period, 1-1.

Third Period:

Cam Atkinson got things started for the Jackets in the third period when he took over a shift by himself a minute in. He had a wraparound attempt, and was buzzing all around the offensive zone. He looks completely comfortable in the NHL, and I wouldn't be surprised if he remains with the team on a permanent basis.

At 1:56 Lebda was called for interference. Just seconds into the Detroit powerplay however, a miscue by the Wings blueliners at the Columbus line led to Derek MacKenzie gathering the puck and flying up-ice. Mark Letestu trailed, but DMac kept the puck and wired it past MacDonald for the shortie.

2-1 Jackets: Derek MacKenzie (Unassisted)

Before the penalty ended the Wings were able to get one right back. Kronwall took the puck near the wall and skated towards the hashmarks. He drew the puck to his backhand, and flipped it under Sanford's left arm to tie the game.

2-2: Niklas Kronwall (Henrik Zetterberg, Todd Bertuzzi)

At 5:04 the Wings were given another powerplay opportunity. The puck was loose behind the Columbus net, and Wisniewski dove to clear the puck to the corner. As he was doing so, he took a shot from Emmerton to the head. As he got up, Wiz returned the favor, punching Emmerton in the chops. Unfortunately for the Jackets, that was the shot that the zebras caught.

With 11:34 left, the Wings took the lead, and it was a weird one. Zetterberg was more or less at the goal line along the boards to Sanford's right, and flipped the puck waist-high towards the net. It somehow found a hole between Sanford and the post.

3-2 Wings: Henrik Zetterberg (Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Kronwall)

Less than a minute later, the Wings struck again. Emmerton gained the zone, and after eluding a Columbus defender, he fired the puck on net. Jan Mursak picked up the rebound right in front of Sanford and spun, firing the puck into the net.

4-2 Wings: Jan Mursak (Cory Emmerton, Tomas Holmstrom)

After a run of back and forth play, the Wings scored...again. This time, Kronwall blasted the puck from the point, and the puck hit bodies in front and dropped in front of Sanford. Filppula, who snuck in behind the Jackets' defense, was on the doorstep to gather the puck and fire it behind Sanford.

5-2 Wings: Valtteri Filppula (Johan Franzen, Nicklas Krownwall)

The rest of the game saw the Wings applying near-continous pressure, but the Jackets weren't victimized again.

Final Score: 5-2 Wings.

Standard Bearers:

  • Niklas Kronwall had a three point night, props to him.
  • The Jackets' plumbers were good tonight, namely Russell, MacKenzie and Gillies. Special consideration to DMac's beauty shorthanded goal.
  • The Jackets' powerplay scored again. Hey, it's something, right?

Bottom of the Barrel:

  • Curtis Sanford was not good. These games will happen, Sandman is the team MVP.
  • RIck Nash was a beast in the first two periods, but disappeared in the third.
  • James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson, the team's top pairing, were a combined -6.
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