Detroit – After consecutive wins over elite teams such as Winnipeg and Toronto, this was unexpected.
The Red Wings lost, 4-3, to the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets. Not many people likely thought that was going to happen, given the way the Wings played against the Leafs.
But, also as has been the case in these types of games this season, when the Wings have fallen behind early, they made it interesting in the end.
Very interesting, cutting a 4-0 deficit to 4-3 before seeing the rally stall.
“Our compete comes up with some momentum, I appreciate the push in the third (period), but just very disappointing to waste a performance like that in the third,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “We weren’t ourselves in the first or second (periods). It’s just frustrating, very frustrating, to give up easy offense to the (Patrik) Laines and (Johnny) Gaudreaus of the world.”
Olli Maatta (Columbus’ Mathieu Olivier scored into his own net, Maatta touched the puck last) and Jake Walman scored third-period goals to cut the lead to 4-2 and make another unexpected comeback, which the Wings have had this season, possible.
Then Lucas Raymond scored his 12th, on a backhander in the slot, at 15 minutes, 56 seconds, to make it 4-3 and ignite the crowd at Little Caesars Arena.
But the Jackets held on, ending what could have been a spirited comeback.
“It gave us some belief,” captain Dylan Larkin said of Maatta’s goal. “We had those comebacks in Pittsburgh in Buffalo (after Christmas) and it was a similar story (Saturday). We talked about not getting behind and running out of time, but what that game in Pittsburgh, it gave us some belief in those games and if we get one (goal), we can score and get back into it playing in their zone.
“We finally decided to show up in the third and ran out of time. It’s unfortunate, we just didn’t start. We didn’t battle enough and let their top line have time and space and let them float through without stopping and making it hard on them.”
Laine is one of the NHL’s premier goal scorers and showed why, scoring three goals. Vladislav Gabrikov added the other Jackets goal, as Columbus (13-27-2) enjoyed a rare win.
The Wings (18-16-7) saw a two-game winning streak end, with a three-games in four-nights trip beginning Monday in Denver.
“We have the capability of rolling off wins, we flirt with it, we have done it, but we have to be on all the time,” Lalonde said. “The first period was a perfect example, where our compete comes off just a little bit and if you’re competing on a one to 10 (scale), we have to be in the nine to 10 range every single time.”
Goaltender Ville Husso stopped 21 shots but was arguably one the Wings’ best players. Husso made numerous key saves in the final 40 minutes to keep the Wings within striking distance.
Columbus broke this game open scoring three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 43 seconds late in the first period.
Laine started the surge one-timing a nice feed by the hashmarks from Johnny Gaudreau at 12 minutes, 47 seconds. Gavrikov made it 2-0 with his third goal, at 13:54, backhanding a loose puck during a scramble in front of Husso, with Columbus swarming.
Laine made it 3-0 at 15:30, putting back a rebound off the end boards past Husso.
Laine extended the Jackets lead to 4-0 just 1:32 into the second period, one-timing a pass from Jack Roslovic, Laine’s 12th goal.
“We had no jump, no life on the bench, we were just kind of looking around and waiting for something good to happen and it didn’t,” Larkin said. “They scored four and we can’t give up that lead. It’s disappointing, after a good game (Thursday).”