This was not how the Blue Jackets wanted to return from an uplifting road victory in Winnipeg.
Rather than building on that game Sunday, they lost 4-2 to the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena in a game controlled by the visitors most of the night. Detroit took a 2-0 lead in the first period, pushed it to 3-0 in the second and reasserted dominance in the third, after Columbus pulled within 3-2 on Kent Johnson’s goal for the Blue Jackets 1:58 into the period.
Austin Czarnik, Dominik Kubalik and Lucas Raymond scored the first three goals for the Red Wings (12-7-5), who took a 4-2 lead at 6:08 of the third on Andrew Copp’s goal. Ville Husso earned the goaltending win with 32 saves for Detroit. Joonas Korpisalo (31 saves) took the loss for the Blue Jackets (8-13-2), whose first goal was scored late in the second by Marcus Bjork to cap a power play.
“Mentally we were not plugged into this one,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “You could tell. It snowballed the wrong way for us most of the night. … there were a lot of guys that had some tough nights tonight.”
Here’s a breakdown:
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Detroit Red Wings key moments
— Czarnik gave Detroit a 1-0 lead 6:34 into the game with a nice tip of a pass from Jonatan Berggren, rewarding the Red Wings’ fourth line for a strong shift spent in the Columbus zone.
— The Red Wings used their power play to make it 3-0 on goals by Kubalik with 2:24 left in the first and Raymond at 7:03 of the second during a 5-on-3 advantage. Columbus paid the price for having Gavin Bayreuther (holding) and Jack Roslovic (tripping) sent to the penalty box 52 seconds apart.
— Bjork got the Blue Jackets on the board with 3:50 left in the second, scoring his own power play goal with a wrist shot from the top of the slot to beat Husso inside the left post. It was the second goal of his career and first since the rookie scored in his NHL debut Nov. 12 at the New York Islanders.
— Johnson’s goal fired up the crowd to start the third, but the energy didn’t last long. Detroit retook control of the puck and dictated play until the Red Wings put two pucks past Korpisalo. Larkin netted the first one, but it was called off for a coach’s challenge that caught a missed offside entry. Copp’s goal counted after he roofed the puck under the crossbar from close range.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Detroit Red Wings notes
— Defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov had a puck ramp up his stick and strike him in the mouth two minutes into the second period and he immediately headed to the bench. After spending the remainder of the period being assessed and treated in the locker room, Gavrikov returned to play the third period and log six more shifts to finish the game.
— Johnny Gaudreau’s assist on Johnson’s goal was his 14th in the past 11 games, giving him three goals, 14 assists and 17 points in that stretch. That torrid scoring pace over the course of an 82-game NHL season would produce 22 goals, 104 assists and 127 points. Gaudreau’s 8-18-26 in the first 23 games also puts him on pace to set single-season franchise records with 64 assists and 93 points.
— Johnson’s goal was his sixth and kept him tied for fourth among NHL rookie goal-scorers. He’s even with Buffalo Sabres forward J.J. Peterka in that category, who also scored a goal Sunday. Johnson has seven assists and his 13 points puts him in a tie for fourth among rookie scorers with Anaheim Ducks forward Mason McTavish and New Jersey Devils forward Fabian Zetterlund.
— Mathieu Olivier (illness) missed his third straight game. Rookie Liam Foudy and Carson Meyer filled the void, skating on the third and fourth lines respectively. Foudy played left wing on the third line, skating with with Cole Sillinger and Yegor Chinakhov. Meyer played right wing on the fourth line with Sean Kuraly and Eric Robinson.
Quotable: Columbus Blue Jackets vs Detroit Red Wings
“What I like about the game (Friday in Winnipeg) is that we’d played three good games before and didn’t get the result. Sometimes that can rock you a little bit. We bent, but we didn’t break in a lot of those situations. We found a way to get through some of the tough moments in that game. There’s some good signs here.”
— Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen
“We hurt ourselves all over with penalties and they’re all penalties. It wasn’t the ref’s fault. You’ve got to call what you see and they were penalties. We just kept finding ways to hurt ourselves tonight.”
— Larsen on the Blue Jackets’ disjointed play.
“I’m sure, probably, some of that’s on them, but a lot of it’s on us. Maybe we just weren’t as clean tonight as other nights. I’m not sure if it’s simplicity or we’re just not snapping the passes as well as normal. Obviously, you’re not always going to be your best at that, but you’ve got to find a different way if you’re not really snapping it that night. Obviously, tonight we didn’t.”
— Johnson on the Blue Jackets’ struggle to gain puck possession most of the game against Detroit.
“(Nyquist’s) a key guy. I use him on the penalty kill, I use him second unit power play, I use him 5-on-5. He brings me balance on any line I put him on, so that’s the key. Getting a guy like (Laine) back … now you can move ‘Gus’ down and hopefully help the other lines.”
— Larsen on Gustav Nyquist’s versatility in the Blue Jackets’ lineup.
“If everyone else is ‘Oh, no! Oh, no!’ I’m trying to calm down, see the puck and make everything look as easy as possible. That’s all I’m trying to do.”
— Korpisalo on his approach to making key saves when the Blue Jackets get stuck in their own zone for long stretches.
Up next for the Columbus Blue Jackets
Three games remain for the Blue Jackets this week, starting with a tough road tilt Tuesday at the Pittsburgh Penguins. Columbus also hosts the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday to conclude a back-to-back and welcomes the Calgary Flames to Nationwide Arena on Friday — the first time Gaudreau faces his former team.