Whatever it was that Columbus Blue Jackets coach Doug McLean said to his team after last night’s 5-1 blowout loss to Detroit, it worked. The Blue Jackets rallied to take a 3-0 win over the Red Wings and split the home and home series with one win apiece.
It was evident from the first drop of the puck that tonight’s game was going to have more of a defensive focus than last night’s shooting match. Both teams seemed wary of each other. The Red Wings had a few good scoring chances against Marc Denis in the first period, but an odd bounce let Columbus open the scoring.
Rostislav Klesla took a shot from the right point. Trevor Letowski tipped the shot on its way through so that Manny Legace wasn’t able to stop it cleanly, and Rick Nash flipped the puck into an open corner of the net.
The Blue Jackets got an even bigger boost to their momentum when they managed to kill off a double minor penalty which overlapped the end of the first and beginning of the second periods. The Red Wings failed to capitalize on Jody Shelley’s trip to the box for high sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct, which gave the Blue Jackets the energy they needed to score their second goal of the game.
Andrew Cassels carried the puck behind the net, then out to the side. His tight angle shot just squeezed into the net between Legace and his short side goalpost at 4:23 of the second.
Darryl Bootland made an effort to liven up the Red Wings by starting a a fight against David Ling. Bootland got the better of the fight, but he also got a two minute minor for instigating and a ten minute misconduct to go along with his five minute fighting major.
Legace kept Detroit in the game by stopping Nash on a breakaway attempt, but the Red Wings just couldn’t manage to set up a strong scoring chance against Denis. Dan Fritsche’s goal from the left faceoff circle early in the third period put the game away for good for Columbus.
Detroit outshot Columbus by a narrow count of 25-24. The Red Wings will play next on Saturday night when they face the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul.