After a painful 4-0 shutout loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday, the Blue Jackets looked to an infusion of young blood to bring some success, particularly with the news that Jack Johnson's season has come to an end due to the need for shoulder surgery.
Michael Chaput, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and John Ramage were all called up to the big club for today's game, and were unexpectedly joined by Justin Falk on emergency recall after Fedor Tyutin came down with an illness.
So, did it help?
Hey, here's a kitten!
Right, then. To the highlights.
Your CBJ Starters: Brandon Dubinsky - Alexander Wennberg - Oliver Bjorkstrand, Seth Jones - David Savard, Sergei Bobrovsky
First Period Highlights
A lot of rubber for Bob early, who made some good stops against Anthony Mantha and Mike Green early on, while Cam Atkinson had the lone shot for the CBJ early on.
Oliver Bjorkstrand registered his first NHL shot on goal at 05:45 of the first period, a hard rising shot that Jimmy Howard got the glove on.
Blue Jackets Penalty - William Karlsson was called for a high stick on Dylan Larkin at 07:28, putting the Red Wings on the man advantage.
To their credit, the PK got in front of several shots, and Bob was on top of the one attempt to make it through, a quick wrister from Tomas Tatar, but unfortunately weren't able to translate the successful PK into more energy - the Red Wings kept up the pressure, and not long after the penalty...
Riley Sheahan with the LUCK O' THE IRISH pic.twitter.com/CC0ZdyaVx3— Kyle WIIM (@KyleWIIM) March 17, 2016
RED WINGS GOAL - Luke Glendening (5) from Sheahan (9) and Athanasiou (4) @ 10:23
In fairness to Bob, that was a pretty nasty shot from Sheahan that found Glendening right on the porch. Not much that could be done there.
Oh, and not too long after that...
Blue Jackets Penalty - Scott Hartnell was called for a high stick on Jonathan Ericcson @ 13:09, and the PK was back to work.
The good news is that the Jackets were able to finish the PK successfully and make their way through the rest of the period without further incident, though what little offense they mustered was stymied by Detroit's shot blocking and aggressive pursuit of the puck. At the end of the period, the Jackets would trail 1-0, being outshot 9-5.
Second Period Highlights
To their credit, the Jackets came out swinging, with Brandon Dubinsky laying a solid hit on Pavel Datsyuk shortly after the drop of the puck, followed by some fairly solid offensive zone pressure, though Jimmy Howard was able to shut everything down that reached the net.
Red Wings Penalty! - Kyle Quincey would be called for holiding after he hauled down William Karlsson in the Detroit zone @ 2:23
True to his word to "get the kids out there", head coach John Tortorella sent Bjorkstrand out to play the point on the #1 PP unit, and they did get some decent puck movement, but the Detroit PK was on top of things - the best chance came from a Hartnell tip attempt in the last :30 of the penalty, but Howard was able to snag the puck, keeping the 1-0 lead alive.
The Jackets kept trying to push the play, and though they didn't score, did a decent job of turning the pressure up.
Red Wings Penalty! - Henrik Zetterburg got the gate @ 05:12 for interference when he tied up Seth Jones as the young defender attempted to play the puck inside the Columbus Zone.
That power play also came up dry, and the coaching staff began spinning the wheel o' line combos, shuffling players up and down the lineup in an attempt to make things happen.
To their credit, the Jackets didn't let up, generating several more scoring chances (Including a Gregory Campbell breakaway, as bizarre as that sounds.) The Wings did offer some responses, including a nasty Pavel Datsyuk shot from just inside the blue line that Bob flashed the leather on.
Blue Jackets Penalty - Brandon Dubinsky would be called for holding after nearly yanking Danny DeKeyser's jersey right off his back @ 18:30, but the Jackets PK was up to the challenge, keeping the Wings at bay until the clock ran down on the period.
They'd still need to kill about :30 of power play time at the start of the third period, but after 40 minutes the score remained 1-0 Detroit, though Columbus had actually pulled ahead on the shot clock, 17-16.
Third Period Highlights
This is where I'd love to write a stirring account of how the Jackets made their earlier play pay off, outlasting Detroit and piling on the coal until they were able to break through Jimmy Howard and take the game in hand.
Yeah, it does sound nice, doesn't it?
In reality, the Jackets had some decent chances to start the third, but, well...
Zetterberg goal. 2-0. pic.twitter.com/rc9myx7iPM— Kyle WIIM (@KyleWIIM) March 18, 2016
RED WINGS GOAL - Zetterberg (13) from Abdelkader (21) and Larkin (21) @ 07:16
This was just a bad defensive breakdown, with Zetterberg sliding in behind the initial attack completely uncovered, and able to capitalize on that mistake.
A 2-0 deficit isn't always a death knell, but with the Jackets scoreless for over 120 minutes of hockey by that point, it certainly felt like things were pretty wrapped up.
Nick Foligno, Brandon Saad, and Seth Jones all had decent looks at the net, trying to find a breakthrough, but unfortunately the next goal wasn't coming from a Blue Jacket.
How many Blue Jackets does it take to stop Darren Helm from scoring? More than three, apparently. pic.twitter.com/a3ZxBsKgLu— Kyle WIIM (@KyleWIIM) March 18, 2016
Yeaaah. Ow. Bob probably wants that one back.
RED WINGS GOAL - Helm (11), unassisted @ 12:35
Around this time, most fans in Columbus were either heading for the exits or keeping a wary eye out for flying cephalopods, but both teams gave some decent effort, with the Jackets drawing one last penalty on Detroit before all was said and done.
Red Wings Penalty - Brendan Smith would be called for a hook on Oliver Bjorkstrand @ 18:49, and you won't believe what happened next.
— NHL Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 18, 2016
BLUE JACKETS GOAL! - Alexander Wennberg (7) from Atkinson (21) & Jenner (16) @ 19:00 (PPG)
It's not much - but at least one goal was scored for the home team tonight. After a shutout streak that stretched over three games, you take what you can get.
FINAL SCORE: Red Wings 3 - Blue Jackets 1
Well, that was full when I started writing.
Seriously, though, if there's one other positive to take away tonight, it's that Torts let Bjorkstrand run with the big dogs tonight, with 16:08 of ice time (including about 2:30 of PP time if I'm doing my math right), and he didn't look out of place, getting a shot on net, drawing a penalty, and making some good passes. With luck, he'll get a chance to put a little more out there on Saturday against New Jersey, too.
Beyond that, though, the Wings came in hungry - they needed a win tonight to try to make up ground in the playoff race - and they got it. Their aggressive pursuit of the puck was on display all night ,and the Jackets just couldn't keep solid possession when they needed it - particularly on the power play.
This is the time of year where my head knows that every loss helps their draft position, but my heart just aches watching games like this.