(SportsNetwork.com) – The Columbus Blue Jackets will try to continue to claw
their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff race when they aim for a
seventh straight win in Tuesday’s road clash against the Detroit Red Wings.
Columbus, which made the playoffs last season for only the second time in team
history, began the season with a 6-15-2 record before beginning December on a
six-game tear. The Blue Jackets’ latest victory came Saturday against the
visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, who eliminated Columbus in six games during last
spring’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The Jackets earned a measure of revenge for last season’s playoff defeat with
the recent 4-3 shootout victory against the Penguins. Ryan Johansen was
credited with the game winner in the tiebreaker, as Columbus recovered from a
Pittsburgh rally late in regulation to post the win at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus fell behind 2-1 after Kris Letang notched a short-handed goal at 7:22
of the third period. The Blue Jackets would take the lead after goals from
Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson, the latter player’s tally coming with 2:11 left
to stake the home club to a 3-2 advantage.
Letang would strike again, however, as the defenseman tied the game by beating
Sergei Bobrovsky with a slap shot with just 10.9 seconds remaining in
regulation. Pittsburgh had goaltender Thomas Greiss pulled in favor of the
extra attacker to get the tying goal.
In the end, the Blue Jackets would regroup for the shootout victory. Cam
Atkinson and Johansen scored on the hosts’ first two attempts, while Letang
kept the visitors in it with a score on the Pens’ second try. Nick Foligno’s
backhander then went wide of the net for Columbus, but Bobrovsky stopped
Brandon Sutter to end the contest.
Foligno added the other regulation goal for the Blue Jackets, while
Bobrovsky made 33 saves for the victory.
“That’s a big two points for us,” Foligno said. “We’ve got to make sure we
tighten up those 6-on-5s. We’ve got to find away to be a little better, a
little smarter. It’s tough against a high-powered team like that.”
Despite its dreadful start to the season, the Blue Jackets enter today’s
action only six points out of a playoff spot in the East.
The Red Wings are tied with Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic
Division, but they’ll try to avoid posting their longest losing streak of the
Detroit has lost three in a row with the first two setbacks coming via the
shootout before losing 4-1 Saturday in Toronto. The Red Wings also went 0-2-1
from Nov. 2-5, but Mike Babcock’s club hasn’t dropped four in a row since a
six-game skid from Dec. 7-17 of last season.
Two of the Red Wings’ losses on this slide came against the Maple Leafs, who
followed up Wednesday’s 2-1 shootout victory in Detroit with Saturday’s home
triumph. In between the setbacks against Toronto, the Wings were handed a 3-2
shootout defeat in Friday’s meeting with visiting Florida.
Detroit outshot the Leafs 42-19 in Wednesday’s setback, but Toronto won the
shot battle 41-28 in Saturday’s rematch. Niklas Kronwall scored for Detroit
and Petr Mrazek gave up three goals on 40 shots in the road loss.
The Red Wings hope to get back on track at Joe Louis Arena, where they boast
an 11-3-4 record this season. Detroit is beginning a four-game homestand
After getting slammed 5-0 at home by Detroit on Nov. 18, Columbus is hoping
for a better result against the Red Wings tonight in the Motor City. The
Jackets have claimed six of the past eight meetings in this series overall,
but Detroit holds a 4-1-1 record in the past six encounters at the Joe.
Columbus has won only three times in its last 12 trips to Motown.
Jimmy Howard is expected to start in net for the Red Wings tonight. Detroit’s
No. 1 backstop is 11-4-2 with a 1.94 goals against average in his career
Bobrovsky is 4-3-1 with a 2.37 GAA in this matchup.
On the injury front for Detroit, the club is hoping to get forward Justin
Abdelkader (shoulder) and defenseman Danny DeKeyser (upper body) back tonight.
DeKeyser missed both games over the weekend, while Abdelkader has sat out the
last six tilts.