It was easy for the visiting Red Wings to look past the Jackets, especially after defeating them so badly on Monday evening. It would seem as though they did just that tonight, because these weren't the Wings we've all come to hate. They were out of sync, but give the Jackets full credit- they battled for sixty minutes and scored some nice goals en route to a 4-2 victory.
Check after the jump for the full story.
The Jackets took to the ice against the Detroit Red Wings for the final of six meeting tonight, looking sharp as always in their alternate sweaters. Before I move on to the recap of the game itself- I have to say, I'd love to see a vintage white version of the third, a potential new road sweater.
I couldn't help but chuckle when the camera turned to newly-signed backup goaltender Shawn Hunwick. The Jackets had to scramble to get a warm body dressed to back up starter Allen York after goaltender Steve Mason took a puck off the mask in practice this morning. Hunwick was signed to a tryout contract, and looked about twelve years old.
The first five minutes of the game were relatively uneventful. York made a pair of easy saves, while Ty Conklin in the Detroit net was rarely tested.
At the 6:26 mark Columbus fans were treated to the infectious smile of Vinny Prospal. Vinny threw a long wrister on-net, which hit Conklin high. The rebound dropped to Conklin's left, where Vinny was there to hammer in the rebound off the skate of a Detroit defender.
1-0 Jackets: Vinny Prospal (Rick Nash)
Fewer than two minutes later, the Jackets earned the games first powerplay when Brad Stuart was sent off for roughing. The Jackets came very close to beating Conklin during a mad scramble in front, but somehow the puck stayed out.
I caught this game on Center Ice, with the NBC national feed. Some folks out there think that Doc Emrick is the best hockey announcer out there-I just don't see it. One reason? He can't say Brassard.
Just as the Jackets' powerplay was coming to an end, Jared Boll was sent to the sin bin for elbowing. The Wings were unable to establish themselves and couldn't beat York.
Just after the 14-minute mark, Ryan Johansen made a beautiful play to beat Stuart at the Detroit blueline, working the puck loose and finding a streaking Derek Dorsett. Dorsett skated in alone on Conklin, going forehand-backhand and beating him for the two goal lead.
2-0 Jackets: Derek Dorsett (Ryan Johansen)
The celebration was short-lived however, when at 16:05 Brett Lebda committed a hooking infraction. On the ensuing Detroit powerplay, Henrik Zetterberg threw the puck on-net, banking it in off the skate of Jack Johnson.
The final minutes of the period saw the teams alternate very close chances, with the Wings committing uncharacteristic turnovers, including one in front of Conklin, when Jonathan Ericsson attempted to pass the puck cross-crease from behind his own net. Dorsett came close to making him pay for that miscue.
End of the first period, 2-1 Jackets.
The Jackets came out with purpose to start the second, with Ryan Johansen looking very focused, and personally I found him to be one of the more noticeable players on the ice. After R.J. Umberger got away with high-sticking Brad Stuart, Cory Emmerton wasn't so lucky a few minutes later when he caught Jared Boll in the chops.
The powerplay was unsuccessful, but Jack Johnson and Derek Dorsett each had chances. It's great fun to watch Johnson maneuver in the offensive zone, it's obvious he has the green light from the coaching staff to pinch up. A full season with the kind of offensive freedom he has could lead to a 15-20 goal season.
The action really didn't heat up until midway through the period. First the Jackets had a handful of great chances to score, with Rick Nash beating Conklin, but not the post, at one point. Later the Wings picked up the pace and started to pepper York. Both goaltenders were busy, but stood tall.
At 14:30 Mr. Assist came through with one of his finest, followed by a beauty goal to put the Jackets up by two. Nikita Nikitin, who seemingly is always dishing out assists, fed Derick Brassard with a beauty stretch pass at the Detroit blueline. Brassard split the defense, and flew in on Conklin, beating him with a low, hard shot.
3-1 Jackets: Derick Brassard (Nikita Nikitin, R.J. Umberger)
Moments after play resumed, the Wings tried to apply pressure in the Columbus zone, but they were met by fierce Columbus defensive zone coverage. The puck eventually made its way out to Cam Atkinson, who passed the biscuit cross-ice to Umberger. Umberger turned up-ice, and using Atkinson as a decoy he kept, fired and scored.
4-1 Jackets: R.J. Umberger (Cam Atkinson, Nikita Nikitin)
Later in the period, Jiri Hudler took liberties on countryman Vinny Prospal during a faceoff. Prospal would have nothing of it, and checked Hudler back to the glass. The two would continue to mix it up, and for their efforts were handed matching roughing minors.
With the teams still playing four-on-four, Johansen carried the puck up the left wing, and threw it towards the net, where Dorsett was streaking. The puck was deflected, but Dorsett's momentum carried him into Conklin. He was handed a goalie interference call.
End of the second period, 4-1 Jackets.
The Jackets began the period killing off the remainder of the Dorsett interference penalty, and were successful in preventing the Wings from cutting the lead in half.
Midway through the final period Aaron Johnson got his stick up in the face of Datsyuk, giving the Wings a two minute man advantage. With a ton of bodies in front of York, Niklas Kronwall blasted a point shot to cut the lead to two goals.
4-2 Jackets: Niklas Kronwall (Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk)
Columbus didn't flinch after allowing the Kronwall marker, in fact they took it to the Wings, led by Rick Nash. Conklin was peppered by shots, with the occasional chance for Detroit at the other end mixed in. This went on for the middle third of the period.
With less than four minutes remaining, the Wings had York beat, but the puck lost steam in the blue paint and came to a stop. York was able to flop down and cover the puck with his behind before a Detroit player could locate it.
Moments later Umberger took the puck hard to the net, and en-route was thrown into the post by Kronwall. Aside from the humorous dead-fish flop that Conklin pulled off as it happened, the hit looked worse than it was, and Umberger got up and didn't miss a beat.
With just under two minutes left in regulation, the Wings pulled Conklin. The remaining seconds of the game saw the Wings apply a ton of pressure. The Jackets were exhausted but battled hard until the horn sounded.
Final Score: 4-2 Jackets.
- Congratulations to Allen York on his first career win. Beating the Wings was no small feat.
- Umberger and Brassard were both very good tonight.
- Rick Nash, though he didn't light the lamp, was a beast tonight.
- Nikita Nikitin and Brett Lebda were both a +3 tonight.
Bottom of the Barrel:
- Nah, there's few good moments these days. Let's enjoy this win.