Red Wings-Blue Jackets set-up: Wings face playoff-desperate Blue Jackets on back-to-back for both teams

The Detroit Red Wings face a stiff test in attempting to snap their 5-game losing streak opposite a playoff-desperate Columbus Blue Jackets team (7:00 PM on FSD Plus/FS Ohio/Sportsnet/TVA Sports/97.1 FM).

Columbus sits on the periphery of the playoff pack, in the Eastern Conference’s 2nd Wild Card spot, with the Florida Panthers hot on their trail (with 3 games in hand). The 35-28-and-5 Blue Jackets have won their past 3 games, including a 5-4 OT victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday evening.

As you might know by now, the 26-30-and-11 Red Wings dropped a 4-0 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday evening, and the Wings were quite vocal about their mistake-prone play after the game; our friends from Columbus had a very different Thursday night, rallying from a 2-0 deficit en route to an inspirational (for them) win.’s Craig Merz tells the Blue Jackets‘ tale…

Seth Jones scored 59 seconds into overtime to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 5-4 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Nationwide Arena on Thursday. Jones, who also had two assists, scored on a one-timer from in front off a pass from Pierre-Luc Dubois.

“At that point, we’re just looking for two points no matter how we get them,” Jones said.

Thomas Vanek scored twice, and Joonas Korpisalo made 23 saves for the Blue Jackets (35-28-5), who have won three straight. Columbus leads the Florida Panthers by two points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

The Blue Jackets trail the New Jersey Devils by one point for the first wild card.

Vanek scored his first goal with Columbus at 1:19 of the second period to tie it 2-2. Vanek was acquired by the Blue Jackets in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 26.

“Thomas [Vanek] is one of the better players in our League getting to the net. That’s where he plays a lot of his game,” Tortorella said.

Zach Werenski gave the Blue Jackets a 3-2 lead with a power-play goal at 12:36 before Vanek extended the lead to 4-2 at 15:52.

“We responded really good again,” Korpisalo said. “The second period was really good for us. We just trust our game. We’ve got some really good scoring power right now.”

The AP’s game recap continues to tell the Blue Jackets’ tale…

Columbus had to rally from a two-goal deficit in the first period when Barrie and Soderberg scored in a span of 12 seconds. The Blue Jackets scored four straight, including Vanek’s pair of second-period goals, to take a 4-2 lead before Colorado evened it in the third frame.

“Being down 2-0 at that point in time the way we were playing, we didn’t deserve it,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “I thought we played a good game right on through. We clawed to win it, we had to go to overtime to win it, but I thought we played a good game right on through, right from the drop of the puck.”

Semyon Varlamov had 39 saves for Colorado, which lost its third straight. Soderberg had two goals , and Mikko Rantanen a pair of assists. The Avalanche has lost three in a row as they try to stay on the fringes of the Western Conference wild-card playoff picture.

Colorado tied the game with from Gabriel Landeskog and Carl Soderberg in the third period before Columbus tallied on its first possession of the 3-on-3 OT. Joonas Korpisalo stopped two Colorado shots before the Blue Jackets charged back.

Korpisalo had 23 total saves to get his second win in three days subbing for sick starter Sergei Bobrovsky.

Jones added two assists, and Thomas Vanek got his first two goals for Columbus after being acquired from Vancouver at the trade deadline Feb. 26. Zach Werenski also tallied for the Blue Jackets.

And’s Brian Hedger offered this from his, “Labatt Blue What We Learned” article:

Thomas Vanek didn’t have a single point in his first four games wearing a Blue Jackets uniform, but the 34-year old forward showed in the second period why he’s a veteran of 13 NHL seasons.

Vanek, acquired from the Vancouver Canucks before the NHL Trade Deadline passed on Feb. 26, scored his first two goals for Columbus to tie the game, 2-2 at 1:19 of the period. He made it 4-2 with 4:08 left and nearly scored a third near the end of the second, denied by Semyon Varlamov off a backhand deflection from the low slot.

Both of his goals were set up by Jones, who had a three-point game and collected his 32nd and 33rd assists of the season. Vanek’s first goal was scored into a wide-open net off the pass from Jones and the second one snuck through the inside of Varlamov’s right arm.

Prior to his first home game on Tuesday, Vanek joked about wanting to set the cannon off. He didn’t do it that game, but heard the celebratory boom twice two days later.

“For me, it usually takes a good week, four or five or six games [with a new team],” he said. “I thought our line with [Alexander Wennberg] and Boone was really good. Every center’s different. I’m trying to read [Wennberg] as much as I can on the ice. I’m trying to figure out his patterns when I enter the zone with the puck, when he enters it, what he likes to do. I think it’s slowly getting better.”

That’s good news for the Blue Jackets, who’ve been searching for consistent, balanced forward lines all season. They might be getting close to those now, with the top two lines playing well and the veteran-backed fourth line acting as a “utility” unit able to handle mulltiple situations.

Getting some chemistry from Wennberg, Jenner and Vanek could really propel the offense. The Blue Jackets have scored four-or-more goals in three straight games for the first time this season and could really take off with a balanced forward group.

Here are’s highlights of the Blue Jackets’ OT win over Colorado:

According to Hedger, the Blue Jackets iced the following lineup:



Artemi Panarin – Pierre-Luc Dubois – Cam Atkinson

Sonny MilanoNick FolignoOliver Bjorkstrand

Boone Jenner – Alexander WennbergThomas Vanek

Matt CalvertBrandon DubinskyMark Letestu


Zach Werenski – Seth Jones

Jack Johnson – Ryan Murray

Ian Cole – David Savard


Joonas Korpisalo

Sergei Bobrovsky

Others: Scott Harrington, Taylor Chorney, Lukas Sedlak, Markus Hannikainen, Josh Anderson (knee)

Injured reserve: Dean Kukan (upper body), Markus Nutivaara (upper body)

And STATS’ game preview will wrap this ditty up:

The Blue Jackets are playing like a desperate hockey team in their pursuit of an Eastern Conference playoff berth. They’re in the second wild-card spot and trying to hold off all challengers.

“We’ve had a little bit of a homestand here, so we need these wins,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. “Let’s be honest. We’ve got to be a good team at home. We’ve got to be a hard team to play against. I hope three (wins) turns into four, turns into five and we just continue to roll here.”

The Red Wings lost to the Golden Knights without center Frans Nielsen, who took a big hit on Tuesday night in Boston from David Backes in the first period and suffered an upper-body injury. Nielsen is out at least through the weekend.

Giving up three second-period goals proved to be the Red Wings’ undoing against the expansion Golden Knights. Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg was candid in his assessment of the team.

“We can’t play like that if we want to win games,” Zetterberg said. “There’s too much poke and hope on a lot of players. If you want to be a solid, good player in this league, if you want to win something, you have to learn to play the right way. Poke and hope might get you 25-30 goals, but you’ll never win anything.”

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill called his team’s effort a “joke.”

“Tonight, was no good,” he said. “Tonight, was unacceptable.


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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.