For the first 20-plus minutes, the Blue Jackets were able to keep their heads above the water. But once the Detroit Red Wings started to build momentum, the Jackets couldn’t do anything to do stop it.
If anything, they helped the Red Wings maintain that momentum as they continually turned the puck over, giving Detroit dangerous scoring chances time and time again.
The Jackets trailed 1-0 after the first period, but shots on goal were nearly even at 13-12 in favor of the Red Wings. Forty-three seconds into the second period, Boone Jenner brought the puck up the ice, dangled around a defender as he crossed through the faceoff circle and slipped a pass across the crease to Emil Bemstrom, who was on the back post for the finish.
But rather than take control after evening the score, the Jackets’ defense became increasingly porous as the period went on. The Red Wings (9-5-4) pulled ahead 2-1, then 3-1, then 4-1 before the period ended, and added two more goals in the third to beat Columbus 6-1.
“Just hurt ourselves,” Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “Quite simple. The turnovers in the second period were glaring.”
The Jackets (6-10-1) entered the game on a four-game point streak, but Saturday’s effort was more reminiscent of the Jackets’ poor play in the early part of the season, not the performances they’ve turned in over the last two weeks.
Here’s a breakdown of the game.
Key moments from Blue Jackets’ 6-1 loss to Detroit Red Wings
— Midway through the first period, the Jackets received the game’s first power play when Detroit forward Tyler Bertuzzi was sent off for hooking. They failed to score on that power play, and just moments after the man advantage expired, forward Matheiu Olivier was whistled for cross-checking. On the ensuing Red Wings power play, Dylan Larkin opened the scoring with a shot from the low slot after a lengthy passing sequence.
— Jenner’s play to Bemstrom on the tying goal was the kind of high-skill play more commonly expected from the third player on their line, Johnny Gaudreau, than the typically workmanlike Jenner. The goal was ultimately meaningless in a 6-1 loss, but it gave Jenner his third straight game with a point — and impressed the sellout crowd of 18,693 at Nationwide Arena.
“It was a great play by him,” Bemstrom said. “(I had) an empty net.”
— The first damaging turnover — deemed “egregious” by Larsen — gifted Detroit defensemen Filip Hronek a wide-open scoring chance from mere feet in front of goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. Marcus Bjork attempted to softly pass the puck to Olivier to begin the breakout, but Olivier couldn’t corral the puck and it bounced directly to Hronek. His bar-down slapshot was the first goal off a turnover by Columbus, but it wouldn’t be the last.
— It wasn’t even the last goal for Hronek off a turnover. He scored his second goal of the game late in the second period to stretch the lead to 4-1. Vladislav Gavrikov attempted to gather a bouncing puck just above the faceoff circles, but the puck once again went straight to Hronek for another high-level shot.
This time, the puck got stuck behind the camera inside the net, which only delayed the inevitable for a moment before the referees figured out the puck was in the net and the Red Wings had scored again.
— Not every turnover became a goal for Detroit, which further demonstrates how loose the Jackets were with the puck. The Red Wings could easily have scored seven or eight goals, if not for several saves by Korpisalo on dangerous rush chances that were initiated by careless turnovers or poor puck protection.
Blue Jackets call up defenseman Billy Sweezey before Detroit game
Saturday morning, the Jackets called defenseman Billy Sweezey up from the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters. Sweezey played Friday night with the Monsters in Laval, a suburb of Montreal, but made it to Columbus in time for Saturday night’s game.
All six healthy defensemen took part in Saturday’s morning skate, but Larsen said there was one game-time decision among the group, which led to Sweezey’s call-up as an insurance policy. Larsen didn’t specify who the potentially injured player was, but Sweezey was scratched from the lineup after warmups, meaning whoever it was could go ahead with the game and didn’t require the use of the insurance policy.
Gudbranson led the team in ice time for the third straight game, skating 21:10. Vladislav Gavrikov played 20:31, Andrew Peeke played 19:57, Jake Christiansen played 19:42, Marcus Bjork played 19:01 and Gavin Bayreuther played 16:40.