Photo Credit: Russell LaBounty/USA TODAY SPORTS
This game should have been a gimmie. After all, the Red Wings were taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are second last in the Eastern Conference. Yes, they’re on their annual “we’re a real hockey team, I swear” push, but they’re a team that’s just a few days removed from being blown out by the Flyers.
You’d think this would’ve been a gimmie. It wasn’t. It was a crushing loss, to the tune of a 5-3 stat line.
Despite the two teams combining for eight tallies, it actually took until the second period for either side to break the ice. That’s because Jimmy Howard absolutely dominated a period that the Red Wings skaters seemingly didn’t realize was happening, fending off sixteen shots while his teammates took just five. A penalty to Niklas Kronwall meant they were to start the second shorthanded.
Of course, the Wings dug themselves in a deeper hole when Luke Glendening tripped up Seth Jones on that same penalty kill. Eleven seconds later, the Jackets made them pay, with David Savard blasting a hard point shot past Howard to open the scoring. The Wings game back ten minutes later with a pretty passing play that led to Justin Abdelkader’s 16th of the year, but that was met with something rarer than a Columbus playoff victory; a David Clarkson goal.
Detroit entered the third period down a goal, and by the midpoint of the frame, the situation got much worse. Boone Jenner picked up an insurance tally just 26 seconds into the period and after Gustav Nyqvist and Glendening (again) put the Wings on another 5-on-3 penalty kill, Cam Atkinson put the game away.
Or so we thought. To the Wings’ credit, they turned on the jets from this point on, blitzing Joonas Korpisalo for twenty shots in the third period. Some of them turned into goals, too; Tomas Tatar started the rally on the powerplay with a nice fake-then-shoot effort, and Andreas Athanasiou brought the game even closer with a sweet deflection of a Mike Green wrist shot. Detroit kept pushing and pushing, but ultimately, they couldn’t bring it any closer, eventually surrendering an empty-netter in the dying seconds.
Motor City MVP
Tomas Tatar was stellar tonight, picking up a powerplay goal and trailing only Riley Shehan for the best possession numbers on the team. He also stayed out of the penalty box, which, on a night like tonight where powerplays haunted the Wings, is key.
The standings race is starting to get a little too close for comfort, isn’t it? While Many of the teams chasing behind have played a few extra games, Philadephia are the closest (only two games back), and they have a game in hand. They’re on the right side of a hot streak right now, so the Wings need to reverse their woes sooner than later if they want to stay in playoff position.
See You Next Time
The Red Wings get another chance at a “freebie” next game, so one would hope that they don’t squander it. They take on the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night at the Joe. Winnipeg is just 2-6-2 in their past ten games and are in a three-way tie for 27th-29th overall. If the Wings can’t win this one, there are greater issues. Puck drop is at 7:30.