The Detroit Red Wings rallied from a 3-1 deficit to at least make things interesting during the final minutes of their 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the Wings, who’ve lost 6 straight games, are at best “competitive” and at worst are getting dominated by their opponents post-trade deadline.
The Wings will fly home tonight and spend Saturday and part of Sunday at home before embarking on a 4-game road trip to San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Colorado, and they will have to summon much more discipline, effort and structure as the Wings hope to leave their woes behind them in the Eastern Time Zone.
The Blue Jackets, who are desperately trying to climb the Wild Card standings, were absolutely delighted by their victory, as they told the Associated Press:
Seth Jones scored twice in the second period and Sergei Bobrovsky returned from an illness to make 22 saves as the Blue Jackets beat the Red Wings to sweep a back-to-back. They have won six of the last eight.
“We always talked about how we just want to make sure we’re hitting our stride at the right time,” Columbus captain Nick Foligno said. “We’ve got a little ways to go, but we feel more and more confident about our game as we get closer to the stuff that really matters. That’s kind of always been our focus.”
Jones got his tallies after winning Thursday night’s game against Colorado with a goal 59 seconds into overtime.
“The puck’s just going in,” shrugged the 23-year-old defenseman, who has 13 goals and 33 assists. “You get stretches like that. Sometimes it goes in and sometimes you go 15 to 20 games without a point. That’s just the way hockey is. It’s a good time for me to be producing right now in the situation we’re in.”
Columbus coach John Tortorella gives him way more credit than that.
“He’s had a hell of a year offensively, but the most important part about Jonsesy’s game is becoming a leader,” Tortorella said. “He doesn’t say too much during the game, but just the way he carries himself right now, he knows he’s part of that leadership group. All facets of the game, he just keeps improving.”
NHL.com’s Craig Merz picks up the narrative from there…
“We had some good wall battles there to keep the puck in and eventually [Helm] gets a good chance,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It was close.”
Zetterberg had been critical of his young teammates after a 4-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday for taking shortcuts and cheating defensively to create offense. He said he saw an improvement against Columbus.
“We worked harder,” he said. “We did things right and everyone showed up. We battled hard. We had a really good start. We didn’t really get anything with it but we created a lot of chances. We forechecked pretty good and had pressure on them.”
Matt Calvert scored in the first period, and Bobrovsky made 22 saves for the Blue Jackets.
Helm scored, and Jared Coreau made 33 saves for Detroit in his second start of the season. He allowed four goals on 16 shots and was pulled after 23:27 in a 6-5 loss at the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.
“I was more shot-ready so nothing surprised me,” he said. “The Boston game things just seemed to happen faster than I was ready for. It was a big key tonight.”
Calvert’s second shorthanded goal of the season, at 15:33 of the first period, gave Columbus a 1-0 lead. He scored in the slot on a pass by Alexander Wennberg from behind the net. Helm’s goal 21 seconds later tied it 1-1 at 15:54. Jones scored on a one-timer from Artemi Panarin off the rush to make it 2-1 at 1:45 of the second.
“I knew Panarin, he can shoot the puck, so when he was coming down I was expecting a shot,” Coreau said. “I knew one of their guys was coming with speed but he made a pretty smart play by slowing down so then my recoil, my flow back in the net slowed down as well. When he made the pass, I didn’t have momentum as well.”
And among ColumbusBlueJackets.com’s Brian Hedger’s “Labatt Blue What We Learned” notes:
Sergei Bobrovsky didn’t have a lot of action in his return to the net Friday night at Nationwide Arena. The amount he did get, though, was pressure-packed and mostly contained in the final three minutes of the Blue Jackets’ 3-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings.
Bobrovsky’s 23rd and final save was his best of the night, stopping a wrist shot from Darren Helm with his chest seconds before the final horn sounded, giving Columbus its fourth straight win.
The Jackets also moved into the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with the victory, moving past the New Jersey Devils.
Just as they did the night before, in a 5-4 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche, the Blue Jackets took control in the second period. They didn’t net three goals again, but did score twice off Jones’ stick – taking a 3-1 lead into the third.
It was another two-goal lead, just like the 4-2 margin they held to start the third against Colorado, and Columbus again dominated play for most of the final 20 minutes. The Red Wings, however, matched the Avalanche with a late goal in the third to make the Blue Jackets sweat out another one.
Athanasiou scored with just 3:43 left in the third, cutting the Jackets’ lead to 3-2, and suddenly there was another nail-biter in Columbus.
Unlike the night before, though, the Jackets staved it off. They won, again, thanks to Bobrovsky’s heroics and time simply running out on the Red Wings.
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan picked up the Red Wings’ side of the story as one of only two Wings scribes to make the trip to Columbus…
“There were a few chances here and there that we’d like to clean up,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg, who didn’t mince words about his team’s play after the Vegas loss. “We gave them (the Blue Jackets) three (goals), we should have scored more than two. We had a lot of chances. We worked harder, we did things right, and everyone showed up.”
But, still, the Red Wings are losing. Friday’s loss extended their winless streak to six games (0-5-1). Victories have been rare for a while, actually, as the Red Wings (26-31-11, 63 points) have won only three times in the last 13 games (3-8-2).
“Any loss is not fun, no matter how many goals it’s by,” said Andreas Athanasiou, whose 14th goal cut the Columbus lead to 3-2 with 3:43 left. “When you’re in a tight game, you don’t want to lose. It’s never a good feeling. You just have to put it in the past and get ready for the road trip coming up.”
After Athanasiou’s goal, the Red Wings pressed hard and had Columbus hemmed in after pulling goalie Jared Coreau. Darren Helm, who scored the Red Wings’ first goal, had a glorious scoring chance with about five seconds left but was stopped by goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
“It was close,” Zetterberg said. “We battled hard to the last minute. We kept pucks in and eventually, Helmer gets a chance, and it was close.”
“The start certainly was more competitive, the start was excellent,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We came out and played the way you had to. They started us to grind us a little bit (in the second period), we had trouble getting out of our end. We kind of bogged down with some turnovers. We have to be better in that area, but we hung with it and made it 3-2 and had an unreal look at the end.”
Coreau, who was pulled in his season debut Tuesday in Boston, made it through the entire 60 minutes against the Blue Jackets stopping 33 shots.
“After it was 3-1 he kept us in the game and gave us a chance,” Blashill said. “Next thing you know, it’s 3-2 and we had two minutes of empty-net opportunities and that was because Jared had done a good job.”
And the Free Press’s Helene St. James penned a sans-quotes recap before spending her time asking the Red Wings’ coach and players about Evgeny Svechnikov, who played 5:25:
“It’s hard, certainly at five, six minutes to play, but the other side of it is when he gets his shift, he has to make an impact,” Blashill said. “It’s the chicken or the egg: what comes first — do you grab ice or do you give ice? He’ll get another chance to play and hopefully we can get him some more minutes but with that said, he’s got to make sure he grabs it.”
The first two games haven’t been conducive to that — the Vegas shutout was a debacle, and the Columbus game saw the Wings trail 3-1 by the game’s midpoint. Desperate for offense, Blashill went with three lines and Svechnikov saw only two shifts in the third period.
As he acclimates to the NHL, Svechnikov could force Blashill’s hand. At least that’s the scouting report from a goaltender who knows him well from being teammates for nearly two seasons in Grand Rapids.
“Svech is a good locker room guy, a good energy guy,” Jared Coreau said. “He’s got a good sense of humor. His English is funny so in terms of off-ice, he does a good job keeping it light. Guys get a little laugh once in a while.
“He’ll do anything for the win — he’ll hit someone and he’ll fight if he has to. He can shoot the puck. It’s not one of my favorites to face in practice. He usually likes to go high. Some days I don’t even have to stay in the net because he misses high so much, but he can shoot. A lot of Russian players, I don’t know what they do over there for their forearms, but a lot of them can shoot hard.”
Svechnikov, 21, was called up Thursday after Frans Nielsen was sidelined by concussion-like symptoms. The Wings see Svechnikov, who they drafted 19th overall in 2015, as part of their rebuild, as a guy who can develop into a power forward.
“He’s a strong kid, strong on the puck, and has a really, really good shot,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “This time of year when we get some injuries, it’s good that we can call guys up and see what we have. He’s one of the guys that we really believe in.”
The truth of the matter is that in the chicken-or-egg situation that is ice time versus opportunity, Svechnikov was OK, not great.
For far too much of Friday night’s game, the Red Wings were OK, not great, and during the second period and most of the 3rd period, they weren’t even OK, and Columbus skated all over them.
The Red Wings and their media corps will take a much-needed (if not deserved) day off tomorrow, and for whatever reason, the Wings will practice on Sunday and prepare for their 4-game, week-long road trip to San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and then Colorado.
By the time the Wings return home on the 19th for games against Philadelphia and Washington, they’re probably going to be further down the standings, but for goodness’ sake, let’s hope that they can win a game or two, because even my enthusiasm for the team is waning.
Highlights: NHL.com posted a 4:16 highlight clip…
Absent videos from Fox Sports Detroit (plus games =/= video), the Red Wings posted a 3:11 clip of comments from Henrik Zetterberg, Jared Coreau, Andreas Athanasiou and coach Jeff Blashill:
The Detroit News posted a 7-image gallery;
ESPN posted a 32-image gallery;
Here’s the Game Summary…
And the Event Summary:
The final shot attempts were 60-47 Columbus on Columbus’ 36-24 shot advantage.