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Recap: It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish

After a frustrating and painful loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, the Blue Jackets needed a strong start to help jump on the struggling Red Wings and maybe boost a little of the club’s flagging confidence.

They didn’t really get it.

Detroit jumped on the Jackets from the start, and their hard push paid off early when Nick Jensen cashed in, taking advantage of a defense caught puck watching.

The Jackets continued to scramble for a few minutes, but began to dig out as they approached the midpoint of the period, getting the boost they needed when Boone Jenner sent Brandon Dubinsky in on Petr Mrazek to get the Jackets back on the board, then taking a lead a few minutes later when Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson put on a passing clinic which ended with Cam finding the back of the net for the 2-1 lead.

The Jackets would hold the lead and nearly extend on several opportunities in the second period, but two penalties – a blatant crosscheck by Scott Harrington and a less than subtle tripping call on Cam Atkinson during the kill – put the Jackets on a two man disadvantage.

For a moment, it looked like the Jackets might turn that around when Matt Calvert got by the defense, but couldn’t put his fourth shorty of the year away, and a breakdown during a line change in the last 30 seconds of the two man advantage saw Justin Abdelkader staring down Sergei Bobrovsky before passing to Thomas Vanek, who had slipped behind Seth Jones and completed the textbook bang-bang play by putting the puck into the wide open net.

The Jackets survived the second period, and even looked a bit dangerous near the end of the frame, but suffered a major loss when Detroit’s Brendan Smith put a nasty shoulder hit on Josh Anderson, with the main point of contact being the young forward’s chin.

The hit would go uncalled by the officials, but Anderson would be taken down the tunnel immediately by the Columbus training staff and would be held out of the remaining play under the NHL’s concussion protocols, leaving the Blue Jackets with a shortened bench in hostile territory.

To their credit, the Jackets did an excellent job of keeping the Red Wings away from danger areas in the third, allowing Detroit to register just two shots on goal in the entire period. They didn’t quite win the third, as we saw this team do through much of their winning streak, but they didn’t knuckle under either.

On the other hand, the Red Wings turtled just as hard, and, Columbus registered just six shots on net, almost none of which really tested Mrazek.

It wouldn’t be until the final minute of regulation that things got a bit more interesting, with Scott Hartnell finally getting a chance to drop the gloves for a bit of retribution on Smith, only to be broken up by the linesmen almost immediately.

Both teams would get a point as regulation came to and end, and Overtime would see some heartbreaking chances go to waste before Columbus got a little luck to go their way.

Brandon Dubinsky, battling for the puck with Henrik Zetterberg, made a play that either was an excellent and aggressive challenge for the puck (if you’re a Blue Jackets fan) or a blatant slash that the refs obviously let go as a makeup call for the Anderson hit.

Dubinsky got moving up the ice while Zetterberg started to complain to the officials, carrying into the Detroit zone and then dropping to Seth Jones, who had all day to tee up his slapper, which clipped Mrazek’s stick and bounced into the back of the net for the OT winner, while abuse rained down from the crowd.

Ahh, the sweet sounds of victory.

Was it a great win? Ehhh. The Jackets let themselves get outplayed at times, and fell into tentative play at times when confident and aggressive attacks might have served them better.

But when all is said and done it was still a win, and with luck it’s a nice bit of momentum to take into the game against Vancouver on Thursday to start the team’s home stand through most of the month of February.