The Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings met at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night in the first of three games this week to close out the CBJ regular season. Just like on Saturday in Vancouver, the Jackets dug themselves quite a hole. This time with the home crowd behind them, however, they were able to pick up the second point in overtime.
It was clear early on in this game that the Red Wings were playing loose with nothing to lose. Sitting at just 71 points coming into the evening, the Red Wings were simply playing for pride. With no pressure, Detroit got on the board first.
Just 3:50 into the first period, Tyler Bertuzzi redirected a Henrik Zetterberg shot from an awful angle past Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead.
A few minutes later following a couple Detroit penalties, the CBJ tied it up while on a two-man advantage. Seth Jones sent a hard pass to Cam Atkinson on the doorstep who knocked it in to make it 1-1 at the 6:16 mark of the first period.
Even after the Jackets tied it, the Red Wings kept their foot on the gas.
Bobrovsky stopped a Darren Helm shot on net, however the rebound got directed into the net by Seth Jones, who was following up the play defensively with 8:48 remaining in the first period.
Tyler Bertuzzi added another goal, again from Zetterberg, this time of the power-play variety with 1:23 remaining in the first to make it 3-1 Detroit.
After the first intermission, Henrik Zetterberg wasn’t done yet.
An early second period power play opportunity for the Red Wings led to another goal, when Zetterberg fed Gustav Nyquist who beat Bobrovsky to put the visitors on top 4-1 just 31 seconds into the period.
In a similar situation to the one they faced over the weekend in Vancouver, the CBJ found themselves looking up at a three-goal deficit. John Tortorella talked about the mindset his team needed to get back in the game:
The only thing we asked them to do was not try to do too much and open ourselves up. We have plenty of game left…I thought our guys kept patience and just kept on banging away.
The CBJ began banging away with 9:10 remaining in the second period when just six seconds into a power play, Cam Atkinson scored again to make it 4-2.
The Blue Jackets turned up the pressure to another level in the second half of the second period. They hit numerous posts but were unable to beat Jimmy Howard until the middle of the third period.
Zach Werenski, who returned to the game after leaving in the second period following a scary shot off the back of his neck, followed up his own shot and tipped a rebound past Howard to cut it to 4-3 Detroit. Sonny Milano was credited for the goal as he actually got a piece of it right before it crossed the line at the 9:22 mark of the third period.
With still more work to do, the Jackets went to the power play yet again with less than three minutes left in regulation. Artemi Panarin entered the offensive zone, got a shot off on Howard, then collected his own rebound and deposited the puck in the net to tie the game up at four with 2:16 remaining.
After killing off a late penalty that rolled over into overtime, the Jackets had the opportunity to do what they couldn’t in Vancouver: collect that second point.
Ryan Murray got the puck to Pierre-Luc Dubois in the center of the ice with his back turned to the goaltender. PLD turned and ripped the puck past Howard to secure the 5-4 CBJ victory 2:55 into overtime.
All in all it was a good team effort on Tuesday night to pick up the win at home over the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky settled down and made huge saves when his team needed him most. The power play was clicking as they went 3-for-5 on the man advantage. Now with just two games left in the regular season, the CBJ are on the cusp of securing a spot in the playoffs for the fourth time in franchise history.
John Tortorella commented after the game about how the expectation level has changed for the team:
I think we’ve crossed that bridge…in what’s to be expected from this team, not hoping. That’s a big bridge to cross. We need to stay over on that side.
Next up for the Jackets is the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ll host their Metropolitan Division rival at Nationwide Arena on Thursday in the most important game of the season as they look to clinch a playoff berth and then some.