For one night, all was right in Nationwide Arena. Max Domi and the Blue Jackets sent their loyal fans home happy, beating the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 in overtime. In what will end up being John Tortorella’s final game behind the Columbus bench, the boys were able to claw out a victory in what turned out to be a very entertaining, back and forth game.
The Jackets opened up the game with a grade-A scoring chance on their first shift. Laine received a pass in between the dots but missed wide. Detroit would answer with their own chance on the very next shift but Matiss Kivlenieks was up to the task.
Detroit struck first when a point shot from Dennis Cholowski was deflected into the net by Jakub Vrana. The goal was Vrana’s 8th goal in 11 games since being acquired from Washington.
1-0 Red Wings (Vrana from Cholowski and Panik)
The Jackets answered a few minutes later when Seth Jones brought the puck out of the zone with a nifty toe-drag, followed by Patrik Laine. Jones dropped the puck to Laine along the wall who cut in towards the net and fed Cam Atkinson who was all alone to tap it in.
1-1 (Atkinson from Laine and Jones)
Eric Robinson had a chance to give his team the lead late in the second when he collected a rebound off a Max Domi shot, but put it wide on a gaping net. The teams headed into the intermission tied at one goal each.
When it comes to second periods for the Jackets, this one was pretty solid. At no point did the wheels fall off so that was a win in and of itself. The first half of the period was a lot of neutral zone play that saw the teams trading possessions with little of note happening. Until...
Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyeser scored his second in as many nights. The Wings and DeKeyser took advantage of a long shift and bad change from Mikhail Grigorenko. DeKeyser beat Kivlenieks with a slapshot from the dot. Poor Patty Laine came on for Grigorenko and quickly added to his team leading -29.
2-1 Red Wings (DeKeyser from Rasmussen and Svechnikov)
Less than two minutes later, Oliver BJORKSTRAND answered, sniping a goal far post, top shelf to tie the game at two goals apiece.
2-2 (BJORKSTRAND from Robinson and Carlsson)
From there, the game began to open up a bit with chances for both sides. Neither team was able to find the back of the net and the game remained tied heading into the final period of the season.
Vladislav Namestnikov tested Kivlenieks early on a one-timer from the slot, forcing the Columbus netminder to make his best save of the night. Shortly after he came up big again making a save on Sam Gagner after he dangled around Michael Del Zotto and found himself alone in front of the net. Kivlenieks was able to close the five hole and keep the game tied.
Just about six minutes into the period Max Domi went off for roughing in what would be the only penalty of the night. It was quite fitting that both a shorthanded goal as well as a power play goal were scored during the only chance either for squad’s special teams.
First it was Eric Robinson who scored off a nice feed from Nathan Gerbe. Gerbe did most of the work carrying the puck into the Detroit zone, firing a shot and retrieving the puck to feed a streaking Robinson who was able to shoot the puck in stride beating Calvin Pickard. The Jackets had their first lead of the night.
3-2 Jackets (Robinson from Gerbe)
However, just over a minute later the Red Wings tied the game just two seconds before the penalty expired. Sam Gagner collected a rebound in front of the net and put it behind Kivlenieks to tie up the game once again.
3-3 (Gagner from Hronek and Djoos)
Jack Roslovic looked to be the hero when he scored with just over five minutes left in the game. Patrik Laine carried the puck into the offensive zone, sent a pass back to Seth Jones on the point. Jones found Roslovic, who put it top shelf over the glove of the Detroit goalie.
4-3 Jackets (Roslovic from Jones and Laine)
This was clearly a game that was destined for overtime, because again, less than two minutes later Detroit had their answer. Dennis Cholowski fired a heavy shot from the point that leaked through Kivlenieks and Valtteri Filppula found a loose puck behind the Jackets’ goalie and swept the puck into the net tying the game at four.
4-4 (Filppula from Cholowski and Vrana)
With a dismal record in games decided in OT this year, it looked bleak heading into extra time. However, the Jackets were up to the challenge and now head into the offseason on a positive note thanks to Kivlenieks, who stopped Richard Panik on a breakaway just before Max Domi ended the game with a beautiful shot that rang off the post and in.
5-4 Jackets (Domi from Bjorkstrand and Jones)
The Jackets stayed on the ice to give the Fifth Line one final salute before leaving the ice for the last time.
However, the biggest news of the night, came shortly after the game ended when the rumors were all but confirmed that Coach John Tortorella will not be returning to Columbus at the end of his contract. It was a hell of a run. Thanks for everything, Torts.