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Answered Prayers in Unanswered Goals: Blue Jackets 5, Red Wings 4 (OT)

CBJ dig out of a 4-1 hole in a wild one at Nationwide

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight game, the Columbus Blue Jackets spotted its opponent a 4-1 lead. And, for the second straight game, the Blue Jackets scored three unanswered goals to force overtime.

This time, they won.

In a crucial matchup against the Detroit Red Wings that had all the trappings of a classic “weird game”—a pregame tornado watch, Alex Broadhurst making a surprise NHL debut and half the team recovering from the flu—Artemi Panarin scored a record-setting game-tying goal with 2:16 left in regulation and Pierre-Luc Dubois finished the job in overtime to give Columbus a 5-4 win on Tuesday night.

The win gave the Blue Jackets 96 points on the season as CBJ fans turned to Florida to watch the end of Panthers-Predators. The Panthers held on to win (2-1 thanks to a goaltender interference call that wiped out a Nashville goal in the final second, natch), so no playoff spot just yet.

Big Moment

Down 4-3 and the Jackets buzzing around his net, Jimmy Howard pulled a veteran (if we’re being charitable) move and kicked his net loose to force the final media timeout of the game at 16:36.

The stoppage allowed the CBJ to catch its breath. When play resumed, Cam Atkinson drew his second penalty on Danny DeKesyer—this time for holding—to force a fateful power play.

And friends, Artemi Panarin delivered. The Russian phenom zoomed through four Red Wings in the center of the ice, shooting from the slot and following his rebound to put one past Howard and tie the game at 4-4 with 2:16 to go.

(credit u/Adnell)

The goal gave Panarin his 80th point of the season and third of the night, moving him past Rick Nash for the single-season CBJ points record. He also picked up his 53rd assist, another franchise record.

Getting the win wouldn’t be easy, of course. Matt Calvert went to the penalty box for hooking to give Detroit a power play that spanned the end of regulation and the first 1:03 of overtime. Weirdly, though, the game never stopped after Calvert’s penalty expired, meaning the two teams played with four a side…until Pierre-Luc Dubois ended the game at 2:55. Oliver Bjorkstrand recovered his own shot that sailed wide and slid it to Ryan Murray at the point, who found a wide-open Dubois in the high slot. The rookie capitalized, beating Howard and sending Nationwide Arena into hysterics.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves on the night. Detroit’s goals would’ve been tough for anyone to stop, but full marks to Bob for battling through a rough start and making some incredible saves down the stretch to earn his 37th win of the year.

First Period

The Blue Jackets controlled the play early but fell victim to a wacky Detroit goal. Henrik Zetterberg corralled a long rebound and one-timed it from the boards, firing a blast at an extremely sharp angle. Tyler Bertuzzi deflected the puck past Bobrovsky to give the Red Wings an odd 1-0 goal just 3:50 after the opening faceoff.

The Blue Jackets took to the power play seconds later thanks to a Nick Jensen delay of game penalty. Columbus then gave up a great shorthanded chance to Darren Helm…who whiffed on the shot and tripped a defender, giving the CBJ a 5-on-3 for 18 seconds.

Columbus would take advantage, specifically noted Wing-killer Cam Atkinson. Seth Jones completed a tic-tac-toe power play to a waiting Atkinson on the doorstep and No. 13 slammed it home to tie the game at 6:16. Panarin picked up the secondary assist, and the score would stay at 1-1 as the Jackets could not convert on the rest of Helm’s penalty.

The tie proved short-lived. It was Darren Helm again, who flailed at the puck and popped it into the air. The puck bounced off a diving Seth Jones (who ended up tackling Bobrvosky) and into the net for a 2-1 Detroit lead at 11:12.

Detroit eventually scored again late in a power play with 1:23 before the first intermission. With Broadhurst in the box on a hooking infraction, the Zetterberg-Bertuzzi connection hooked up again to capitalize on a rush and take a two-goal lead into the locker room.

Second Period

The second period began with a bang…for the other guys. Dubois found himself boxed for holding 19 seconds into the period and the Red Wings needed one shot to cash in, a Gustav Nyquist wrister off a nifty backhand pass from Zetterberg. The goal—just 12 seconds into the power play—extended the visitors’ lead to 4-1 and left John Tortorella muttering to himself on the bench.

Midway through the second period, Zach Werenski dove to the ice to block an Andreas Athanasiou shot, only to block the shot with the back of his neck. He left the game but would return shortly before the end of the period.

The injury probably didn’t do it, but the Jackets seemed to spring to life. Werenski’s former college roommate Dylan Larkin committed a slashing penalty shortly after the stoppage and Columbus converted immediately, winning a faceoff and finding Atkinson for the winger’s second goal of the game. Alex Wennberg screened Jimmy Howard and Detroit challenged for goaltender interference, but the goal stood. 4-2 Blue Jackets with 9:10 left in the second.

Detroit went right back to the box on a Danny DeKeyser trip. The penalty didn’t result in a goal—despite two shots that clanged off the iron—but it helped give the CBJ momentum that carried through the second. The home team hit two more posts in the rest of the frame, getting the crowd back into it…if not resulting in a dent to the 4-2 deficit.

Stat of the second: Columbus outshot Detroit 20-3 in the period.

Third Period

It took almost 10 minutes, but Columbus shot and poked and prodded and finally scored. Sonny Milano scored the chili goal at 9:22, poking a loose puck over the line following a deflected Werenski shot. With that goal, the Blue Jackets pulled to within 4-3 with 10:38 left in the game to set up a wild finish CBJ fans will remember for a long time.

Final Thoughts

  • Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte and Chicago’s sixth-round 2017 pick for Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg and Columbus’s 2018 fifth-round pick. Heist of the century. Great to have Panarin’s name on an important CBJ record in his first season with the club. Sky’s the limit.
  • The Blue Jackets have 96 points after 80 games. So does Pittsburgh. New Jersey has 95, Philadelphia has 94 and Florida has 90 in 79 games. Thursday night’s home finale will be rocking.
  • Three assists for Seth Jones. Jones, Bob and Panarin are dragging this team to the playoffs. He also played 24:49.
  • Cam Atkinson scored two goals on the night. He now has eight straight games with at least a point, and it’s felt a little under the radar? Good time for him to get going.
  • The win snapped a three-game win streak for Detroit. Fun Fact: Did you know that Blue Jackets have the second-best record win percentage against Detroit since 2012-13? The CBJ entered the night with a .789 win percentage against the Winged Wheel, second only to Tampa Bay’s .818.
  • Columbus shots hit five posts on the night, including four in the second. Each one probably took a few minutes off our lifespans.
  • Alex Broadhurst’s NHL debut: 2 PIM, 1 takeaway, 5:18 TOI. He logged 2:14 in the first period and that early penalty didn’t appear to endear him to Tortorella.
  • These shots never get old: