The Detroit Red Wings improved to 5-0-0 on the young NHL season Friday night, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-2, to get off to their best start in nearly 40 years, when they started the 1972-73 season 6-0-0.
The Red Wings also turned their power play around, scoring three goals with the man advantage after scoring only once on their first nineteen power play chances to start the season.
Johan Franzen opened the game’s scoring with one of those power play goals. Franzen sent the puck to the bottom of the right faceoff circle for Valtteri Filppula, who poked it back up for Franzen. From the faceoff dot, Franzen snapped a shot over Steve Mason‘s glove, past a screen by Danny Cleary at 9:03 of the first period.
With 5:39 remaining in the period, Franzen knocked a shot in from the side of the net. The puck bouced off defenseman Aaron Johnson to sneak past Mason, making it 2-0.
Only 27 seconds into the second period, Pavel Datsyuk restored the two-goal lead. Ian White fired a long shot on net that Mason knocked aside, then Henrik Zetterberg couldn’t score from the side of the net. Tomas Holmstrom swatted at the loose puck at the edge of the crease but it came back out to Datsyuk in the slot to fire past the scrambling Mason.
Johnson got the Blue Jackets back into it at 1:42 of the third period, left wide open in the slot to slap the puck past a screened Howard for a power play goal.
Nicklas Lidstrom scored just seconds after the expiration of a five-on-three to make it 4-2. Lidstrom’s blast from the high slot deflected on its way through to get past Mason at 7:46 of the third.
Filppula added an empty net goal when he tapped in a chance from Franzen that was going wide.
Detroit’s three power play markers came on five chances with the man advantage, including their one long five-on-three. Columbus’ power play goal came on four tries with the extra man.
Howard made 32 saves on 34 shots against on the night. Mason stopped 28 of the 32 shots he faced.
The Red Wings meet the Washington Capitals in a battle of undefeated teams on Saturday night.
Patrick Eaves and Fabian Brunnstrom were the healthy scratches up front for Detroit… Brendan Smith was not called back to the Red Wings roster to serve another game of his NHL suspension. He remains with the Grand Rapids Griffins now that his AHL suspension is over.