The Blue Jackets took home ice for the first time this season in an unfamiliar spot: they had a record above .500. The Red Wings came in reeling after a 6-0 drubbing by St. Louis on Saturday night looking to get things going. Columbus took the ice wearing #1 "Thank You Fans" sweaters. The pre-game intro was powerful, with both John P. McConnell and John Davidson addressing the capacity crowd. Davidson has instantly become a fan favorite, and it's clear from watching and listening to him interact with fans that he just *gets* it. His hiring may be the thing we all look back on many years from now as the day the team turned the proverbial corner.
But, let's not forget amid the hoopla that there was also a game to be played. And played it was. Literally right from the opening faceoff, the two teams engaged straight away.
We should have known (well, we did, honestly) that something was up when Jared Boll was listed as a starter with RJ Umberger and Derick Brassard, and Jordin Tootoo was starting for the Wings. And up it was, as the two engaged in a knock-down drag-out fight just three seconds into the tilt. I had Boll winning the decision on my scorecard by virtue of a few teeth-rattling shots, one of which put Tootoo on his knees for a second.
For his part, Boll was non-committal in the dressing room, saying only that he didn't know he'd be out there until the lineup was announced, and that they needed energy.
Once the actual hockey got started, it didn't take long for the Jackets to give the Wings their first crack at a goal for the season, as Derek MacKenzie went off at the 2:29 mark for boarding Brendan Smith behind the Wings' net. The Jackets' PK was outstanding, however, not letting the Wings get the puck out of their own zone for the first 20 seconds.
The Jackets routinely kept the Wings at bay, killing the penalty off with aplomb. The PK would be tested again, unfortunately. Fedor Tyutin would get the gate at 5:57 for a hooking penalty in front of the net, and this time the Wings would set up shop in what proved to be a big turning point in the period.
Sergei Bobrovsky would stand tall on the kill, flat out robbing Valtteri Filppula on the doorstep 20 seconds into the kill. He would also get some help from the keeper's best friend, as Niklas Kronwall would ring the crossbar a minute later.
Bob was tested often over the second half of the period as well, at one point performing a brick-layer's stone job on Damien Brunner at the 10:40 mark. The Wings would finish the period on a roll with 13 shots. The Jackets would finally get a chance late on the Power Play, with Vinny Prospal and Cam Atkinson doing some nice work and Nikita Nikitin ripping a one-timer at the end of the man advantage that went begging.
End of 1st Period - Blue Jackets 0, Red Wings 0
It was clear which team came out with more spark from the intermission. The Red Wings took control early, and forced another bad turnover off a failed clear by Brandon Dubinsky. The puck made it's way back to the point for the Wings, and Kronwall sent it over to Johan Franzen, who fed it back to Brain Lashoff at the middle of the blue line. Franzen set a screen in front, and the shot by Lashoff trickled through the glove of Bobrovsky.
1-0 Red Wings - Brian Lashoff (1) at 1:10, from Mikael Samuelsson and Niklas Kronwall - EV
The Jackets were chasers for a lot of this period, as the Wings started buzzing. The Jackets were giving them too much space to operate, and were also turning the puck over far too many times in their own zone. Whether it was bad clearing passes, or lack of chemistry between some new teammates, there were a lot of intercepted passes by Detroit.
The refs also decided to make themselves part of the action in the second, calling everything (and I mean, EVERYTHING) that could even be hinted at being considered a penalty. Within four seconds, the Jackets took a bench minor for too many men (served by Johansen), and on the ensuing faceoff Dan Cleary was busted for a faceoff violation (hand pass). With the extra space afforded by the four-on-four ice, Detroit was able to take advantage.
Columbus again couldn't get the puck out of their own zone, and Pavel Datsyuk dug it out of the corner and fed it to Franzen. The Mule found Ian White pinching in on the right unchecked, and White racked the in-goal camera to make it 2-0.
2-0 Red Wings - Ian White (1) at 14:06, from Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk - EV 4-on-4
The Jackets needed an answer, and two of their young guns provided it. Derek Dorsett fed the puck to Johansen in the neutral zone, and Joey made a slick dish to a streaking Cam Atkinson. Cam was loose for a break-away, and skated in on Howard, made a nifty deke to the right, and slipped it past the outstretched leg of the Wings' netminder to get the Jackets on the board.
2-1 Red Wings - Cam Atkinson (1) at 15:20, from Ryan Johansen and Derek Dorsett - EV
The Jackets' goal seemed to settle things down, and Columbus started making some better passes and controlled the puck a bit more. "Before the goal, we were in the box a lot and couldn't really get going," Atkinson said. "We were talking on the bench. Obviously, there's no let-down in us. Joey made a great play down the middle, and I was just streaking. I buried it, and I think the momentum kind of switched in our favor. We kind of settled down midway through the second period and got our legs under us."
"It was really big," coach Richards said. "At the time, there was no energy coming from the crowd. We had a great crowd tonight, and we didn't really give them any opportunities to stand up and cheer. Cam scored that goal and it got the fans into it. It energized our guys."
They definitely got to Howard more, firing 14 shots in the period. They had a nice cycle toward the end, and Jack Johnson ripped a solid shot from the blue line, but Howard was able to stand up. Columbus would need to carry that momentum into the third period.
End of 2nd Period - Red Wings 2, Blue Jackets 1
The Jackets would need a solid final period to take this one. They couldn't have asked for a better start. Just 2:39 in, Matt Calvert's hard work would be rewarded, as he kept the puck deep and drew a cross-check from Brendan Smith. The Jackets' PP was finally on point, as they kept the puck deep, and got several early chances. A shot wide was retrieved by Umberger, who sent it around to Brassard at the half-wall, who fed it back to James Wisniewski at the blue line. Wiz unleashed the beast, and the puck was by Howard before he ever saw it.
2-2 tie - James Wisniewski (1) at 3:24, from Derick Brassard and RJ Umberger - PPG
"We don't let [falling behind] bother us," Jack Johnson said. "There was still a lot of hockey left to be played. There was no reason to get down or get discouraged when we were down. We have a good enough team and good enough players [to get back into it] when we're only down one or two goals."
The Jackets weren't done, as the Red Wings seemed content to give them chance after chance. A Henrik Zetterberg slash just 14 seconds after the goal gave the Jackets another two minutes on the man advantage. Despite not getting on the board, they had some chances including a bad turnover right to Brassard on the doorstep, and a nice hold in the zone by Nikitin followed up by a bomb of a one-timer that Howard just got a piece of.
The Wings weren't done giving, either. A Kyle Quincey interference call on an Umberger mini-break at 6:47 led to two more minutes for the Jackets to put the pressure on. And they would respond.
Again getting the puck high to their solid D men, the Jackets spent a good chunk of the Power Play on offense. Tyutin sent the puck across to Nikitin for a one-timer bomb, which just sailed high and wide. However, the rebound off the end boards made its way back in front, and no one pounced on it. That is, except for one Vinny Prospal. He drove the rebound home through a crowd to give the Jackets their first real "lead" of the season.
3-2 Blue Jackets - Vinny Prospal (1) at 8:43, from Nikita Nikitin and Fedor Tyutin - PPG
Ahh, but as we know, these Red Wings don't go away. Ever. Sigh.
Johansen went off for a hook on the offensive zone, and the ensuing Power Play was going well for Columbus. After coincidental minors to Brandon Dubinsky and Johan Franzen, there were just a few more seconds of Power Play time for the Wings. On what Todd Richards called "a defensive breakdown," Zetterberg took the puck from the Jackets on the half wall, fed it to Kronwall up high who was wide open. As the defense scrambled, they lost sight of Pavel Datsyuk on the back door-step, and Kronwall hit him for the tap in to tie it. So it goes.
3-3 tie - Pavel Datsyuk (1) at 13:56, from Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg - PPG
The final six minutes were frenetic, in part because of some more Blue Jackets turnovers in their own end (I counted three egregious ones in the final stretch), and both teams played fast and loose. But neither team could find the game-winning goal, so we were treated to some free hockey.
End of 3rd - Blue Jackets 3, Red Wings 3
There was some great end-to-end action in the extra five minutes, with both teams getting some golden chances. But, the goaltenders were up to the task. Bobrovsky made a stellar save with one minute left to keep the Jackets alive. The extra period couldn't settle things, so it was on to the shootout.
End of OT - Blue Jackets 3, Red Wings 3
CBJ - Atkinson - MISS (goal five hole overturned) "I kind of lost it right at the last second," Atkinson said. "He just got a pad on it, and I banged it home. If I didn't [initially] lose the puck, I think it would have been a better outcome."
DET - Datsyuk - MISS (crossbar)
CBJ - Anisimov - MISS (save left)
DET - Filppula - MISS (pad save)
CBJ - Johansen - MISS (five hole save)
DET - Zetterberg - MISS (blocker save)
CBJ - Calvert - MISS (over goal high glove)
DET - Brunner - GOAL (stop-start inside the right pad, survived review)
Final Score - Red Wings 4, Blue Jackets 3 (SO)
Cam Atkinson - his goal got the crowd back into it, and his effort was relentless. He had great chemistry with Ryan Johansen and Vinny Prospal, as well. "[Johansen] makes the game slow down," Atkinson said.
Matt Calvert - you won't see his name in the score sheet, but he was relentless. He's the perfect role player for this team: he goes all-out, all the time, and he has just enough skill to be a problem for the opponent on both ends.
Sergei Bobrovsky - he'd probably like one or two of those goals back, but without him in the first period the Jackets probably lose by 5 tonight. 39 saves for Bob, and some of them were beauties that we haven't seen a goalie make in Columbus for awhile. "Our goalie was great again," coach Richards said. "If he's not good in the first period, with their Power Play opportunities, we would have been in a real big hole." More on that last part later below.
Power Play Blue Line - this is a completely different Power Play with all four defensemen healthy at the same time. Wiz had a goal, Nikitin had a few near-misses including one that eventually set up Prospal's goal, and Johnson and Tyutin played the points well and got some pucks to the net. "We're looking to shoot," Jack Johnson told me. "If you don't shoot, you can't score. We're very fortunate that everyone can shoot the puck really well. I think the biggest thing is that we're trying not to be predictable on the Power Play." If the early results (three for their first nine) are any indication, they are not.
Bottom of the Barrell
Turnovers - Chalk it up to rust and lack of chemistry, but the Jackets were AWFUL turning the puck over in their own zone. "There were a fair amount of turnovers on both teams," Johnson said. "That's just part of the second game of the season. We know the mistakes are going to be made. There are probably more mistakes being made on each team right now, just because of the circumstances." Let's hope it's a short-term thing, then.
Penalties - It would appear the refs are going to call these games tighter--this one being on national TV probably didn't help--but the Jackets have to be better. Offensive zone penalties are killers. All of the PKing and guys in the box forced a short bench for Richards late. "I can't tell you how many forwards I used," he said. "Just based on the penalties. I had some guys in the box that I use for penalty killing, so I shortened up the bench." For their part, the Jackets did manage to kill off six of seven Wings' Power Plays, but the game tying goal in the third came at the end of a kill.
Lackluster Jump - it took the Jackets about 35 minutes to get going, even with the Boll beat-down to start it off. They got it going and controlled the game for a good chunk in the 3rd, but if it takes you that long to get going on national TV in the second game of the season, uhhh, yikes. "It's great resiliency [to come back]," coach Richards said, "but the negative is that we're putting ourselves down. We were too sloppy [in the first period]."
In the end, however, it's three points in two games against the division (nevermind the three points given back the other way...). I think we'd have all signed up for that when the schedule first came out, no?
On to the mountain time zone on Wednesday!