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Blue Jackets Hang On Against Detroit for Their Fourth Straight Win

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Columbus jumps into the first wild card spot with the W

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In several ways, Friday night’s game in Columbus between the Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings mirrored the one played 24 hours prior against Colorado: a two-goal Columbus lead, defensemen coming up big, a furious comeback bid and—most important of all—a CBJ victory. The Blue Jackets sewed up a 3-2 win over the Red Wings for their fourth consecutive victory, leapfrogging the idle New Jersey Devils for the first wild card spot in the East and putting them two points behind Philadelphia for third in the Metropolitan Division.

With a 3-1 lead after two periods and a pair of Seth Jones goals, the question stood heading into the third: would Columbus hold on, or would it be another consecutive night of taking their foot off the gas pedal?

The answer came with about 12:30 left. Not with a goal, but with the Jackets’ fourth line (Calvert, Brandon Dubinsky and Mark Letestu) pinning the Henrik Zetterberg line deep in its own zone for more than minute, creating a great chance on net, changing lines and *still* forcing an icing. The shift(s) brought the Nationwide Arena crowd to its feet and elicited a rousing “C-B-J” chant from the Columbus faithful.

The home side kept the pressure on down the stretch...but Detroit found a crack in the wall with 3:43 left in regulation. The Wings created an odd-man rush of their own, a 2-on-1 job where Andreas Athanasiou opted not to pass and squeezed a quick shot past Sergei Bobrovsky, pulling the visitors to within a goal.

Detroit pulled goalie Jared Coreau with two minutes on the clock and generated a few chest-clinching shots on Bobrovsky before calling a time out at 18:50. In a final wild minute, the CBJ battled along the boards and Bobrovsky made a sprawling save in the closing seconds to seal the win.

What a difference a week makes. Since the 4-2 stinker in Anaheim last Friday, Columbus has averaged four goals a game and thrown themselves right back into the thick of the playoff race.

The Jackets drew first blood shorthanded late in the first period. Matt Calvert found Alexander Wennberg on the rush, whose deke in close forced Jared Coreau to his knees. Wennberg then skated around the net and threw it in front for a trailing Calvert, who slammed it home for a 1-0 lead.

Columbus’s lead proved short-lived, however, as the Red Wings marched down the ice and tied the game 21 seconds later with a Darren Helm even-strength goal. Comme ci, come ça, as they say.

The Blue Jackets handed the Red Wings another power play shortly after on a rare Wennberg high-sticking infraction. Fortunately for the Union Blue, Columbus held the line and headed to the first intermission with a 1-1 score.

One nugget out of the first period: Cam Atkinson took a shot off the foot and appeared in some serious pain, but didn’t appear to suffer any more ill effects. Something to watch in the hours and days ahead.

The Blue Jackets didn’t wait long to take back the lead. Less than two minutes into the second period, Atkinson looped the puck out of the zone to a cherry-picking Artemi Panarin, who found himself joined by Seth Jones for a 2-on-1. Panarin slid Jones a perfect pass and No. 3 slapped one in from just above the dot for a 2-1 Jackets edge.

Six and a half minutes later, Jones struck again on another odd-man rush. Boone Jenner connected with Thomas Vanek across the zone, who gave it right back to Jenner for a point-blank chance. Coreau made a great save to stone Jenner, but Jones cleaned up the mess for a 3-1 lead with a little more than half the second period left.

A pair of Blue Jacket power plays passed without incident for the rest of the frame and the Jackets took a 3-1 advantage into the wild third period and eventual win.

Quick Thoughts

  • Seth Jones is really, really good. A night after Zach Werenski set a franchise record for season goals by a defenseman with his 13th, Seth Jones scored his 12th and 13th. He would’ve said “Hold my beer,” except Werenski’s not old enough to drink legally. Jones also delivered some big defensive plays and led all Blue Jackets with 21:06 of ice time.
  • As mentioned in the lede, Friday’s game carried similar themes from Thursday, another one coming in the form of Artemi Panarin’s ridiculously strong play. Panarin finished the night with one assist but threw a team-high five shots on goal and generally dominated in the offensive zone. What a steal of a trade to bring him to Columbus.
  • Allowing another goal in the final minutes of the third period ain’t great, and John Tortorella probably feels the same. It’s all different when you win, though.
  • Matt Calvert nearly had two goals tonight. Thomas Vanek picked up an assist. Another game with a point for Boone Jenner. Lot of different guys on this roster are starting to feel it and the Jackets have begun to show longer stretches of dominance.
  • This is New Jersey’s upcoming schedule. Yiiiiiiikes.
  • Bob flew under the radar as much as Bob can, only facing 22 shots and stopping 20. At the end of the night, he made the saves he needed to when it mattered.
  • The Blue Jackets don’t play until Monday at home against Montreal. With four consecutive wins under their belt and increasing odds to make the playoffs, it should be an enjoyable weekend for the team and its fans.