Sometimes in sports, having the one "best" player on the field/court/ice can make all the difference. It can level the proverbial playing field, and can will a less talented team to a victory over a more talented team.
Last night was one of those nights.
It didn't start well, as Luke Adam went for a stick raise on Tomas Jurco and missed entirely, instead jacking him in the face. Four minutes of PK time going up against the best Power Play in the league. The Jackets were strong on the PK tonight, and had it not been a double-minor they would have survived. But, if you give a PP unit like the Wings' four straight minutes, more than likely they're going to break you.
After almost three minutes of solid killing, Gustav Nyquist fed the puck up high to Marek Zidlicky, who fired the puck on net. Sergei Bobrovsky was tracking it, but an unmarked Justin Abdelkader was camped in front and redirected it past Bob.
1-0 Red Wings - Justin Abdelkader (18) at 7:49, from Marek Zidlicky and Gustav Nyquist - PPG
But, that was it. Sergei Bobrovsky wouldn't allow the Wings anything else, as he stopped 41 of 42 shots in the game.
So, it was up to the Jackets' offense. They would tie the game from an unlikely source.
After working the puck deep on a great shift, Artem Anisimov would truck up to the half wall to the left of Jimmy Howard. Arty wired a slick pass to Corey Tropp who was camped in the slot, who fired off a one-timer that got deflected in front... right onto the stick of Nick Foligno. Foligno was able to tap it to the right of the goal as a perfectly pinching Fedor Tyutin cruised in untouched to wrist it into the open net.
1-1 tie - Fedor Tyutin (3) at 12:24, from Nick Foligno and Corey Tropp - EV
The Jackets definitely seemed to have the better chances the rest of the way, and a nice tic-tac-toe play behind the net would give the Jackets the lead to finish the first period. It was again Anisimov at the center of it all. Scott Hartnell sent the puck deep on a cycle, and Anisimov was there to gather it. He tried to feed a streaking Marko Dano in the slot, but the puck we deflected back behind the net. Dano gave chase, and as he wrapped around he slid a pass back to Anisimov. All in one motion, Anisimov fed it back to Hartnell who had taken up residence in the slot. One timer, goal. No chance for Howard. It was beautiful.
2-1 Blue Jackets - Scott Hartnell (19) at 16:24, from Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano - EV
In truth, it was all Bobrovsky would need. But, that early in the game, we couldn't possibly know that yet. Through the second period, the teams were pretty even in shots (Detroit with a slight 29-25 edge), and the special teams would carry the period for Columbus. The PK was only tested once in the second after a Cam Atkinson high stick, and Bob made one of the saves of the game during some four-on-four time as he went post-to-post to stuff a Henrik Zetterberg wrap-around chance.
But, it was Atkinson with a timely play on the Power Play that gave the Jackets the cushion they'd need. As the Jackets moved it up ice on the PP, the dreaded "drop pass" was again used as David Savard skated almost into the Wings zone only to drop it straight back to a streaking Atkinson. For some reason, this seemed to completely confound Detroit, as their entire PK let Atkinson skate into the zone, into the circle to Howard's right, and watched helplessly as Cam wired a shot into the high glove corner.
3-1 Blue Jackets - Cam Atkinson (14) at 18:30, from David Savard - PPG
Remember how the shots were pretty even after two periods, but the Jackets had a 3-1 lead? Remember how the Jackets always play with third period leads? Score effects, man.
Columbus would be out-shot 13 to one in the third period, but this was one of those nights where it just didn't matter. Bob was Bob. Columbus killed off two more penalties in the third to run their PK to five-for-six on the night (with the asterisk of that the goal was scored on the back half of a double-minor). The Wings scored on their seventh shot of the game, and then Bob stopped the final 35 shots. He gave them nothing.
Final Score - 3-1 Blue Jackets
- Bob. I mean, what else can you say? 41 saves, including a barrage of unanswered shots in the third period. Bob looks to be 100%. Too bad it's too late in the season.
- Artem Anisimov had a great game tonight, with one assist and the starting play on another goal for which he didn't get a credited assist.
- Fedor Tyutin scored a great goal on a perfect pinch, and was +2 on the night. Solid game from #51, who looks to be finally over his illness.
Bottom of the Barrel
- Penalties - I know they basically came out ahead, but you can't give the best PP unit in the league six tries and expect to win very much.
- Brandon Dubinsky's Immune System - please get well, Dubi. Luke Adam had less than six minutes of ice time, in part because he was in the box for almost three due to the unfortunate high stick double-minor.
- Those Red Wings Fans That Feel The Need to Stand Up, Turn Around, and Mug For the Camera Every Time It Pans By - this has been a pet peeve of mine since, like, forever. We know you're at the game. Sit your ass down.