The Detroit Red Wings honored Hall of Fame defenseman Nick Lidstrom before Tuesday night’s game between the Wings and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Niklas Kronwall returned to action Tuesday after missing 15 previous games
The Blue Jackets have surged of late, winning six of their past ten games, and earning points in eight of ten. Their -33 goal differential is one goal against shy of the league-lowest, but rookie goalie Joonas Korpisalo had started 13 consecutive games, earning a 2.63 GAA and .921 SP in the month of February. However, backup netminder Curtis McElhinney was in net on Tuesday.
The standings race in the Atlantic Division sees the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins (70 points) tied for second place behind only the Florida Panthers (75 points). Detroit is only one point behind at 69 points.
Detroit had lost four straight, all on the road coming into Tuesday.
It was a slow start for both sides as the two teams combined for only ten shots in the opening frame (Detroit had four). Neither goalie was tested until Columbus forward Boone Jenner continued his hot streak with his 22nd of the season with 1:42 left in the period. It was a low wrist shot that goalie Petr Mrazek misread on the play.
Detroit had 11 shots in the middle stanza, with Riley Sheahan having five of his team’s accumulated 15. With six minutes to play, he found himself a shorthanded breakaway with which he tied the game. It was Detroit’s first shorthanded goal of the season.
The third was the most tightly contested period of the game. Columbus outshot Detroit 13-10 as both teams had their chances. But it was overtime when the two finally found prime scoring opportunities. Andreas Athanasiou skillfully deked past Jackets star defenseman Seth Jones, nearly scoring on McElhinney to end the game. Shortly after, puck-moving goalie Mrazek made a key save of which he intended to make a long pass to Pavel Datsyuk. But the referee caught the young netminder skating with the puck in his glove before setting it down, which ended the momentum and caused a whistle, visibly angering Mrazek.
In the shootout that followed, Riley Sheahan continued his strong game with a goal in Round 2. “I like to do a certain few moves and that one was in my head,” said Sheahan. “So I just tried to make a good fake off the start and then I got a good bounce off the post.”
Andreas Athanasiou then followed with a goal of his own to complete the win. Mrazek stopped all three shots he faced. “It’s kind of my go-to, forehand, backhand, back to forehand,” he said. “I tried to pull it off as quick as possible and get the goalie to bite.”
It was a key victory for the Wings as they broke their four-game losing streak. However, the lack of offense needs to change. Aside from the Anaheim Ducks, who have only recently surged in the standings, Detroit has the fewest goals scored of all teams in playoff positions. In fact, even the lowly Blue Jackets have scored more goals. Their goal differential of -3 is the lowest of all playoff teams.
With the win and a Lightning win as well, Detroit moves past Boston and sits in third place in the Atlantic.
Detroit had 11 takeaways in the contest.
Riley Sheahan found the net six times on the night. He was rewarded with a rare opportunity to participate in the shootout.
Rookie Andreas Athanasiou scored on his first career shootout attempt after he nearly scored in overtime following a skillful move to get past Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones.
Petr Mrazek stopped 28 of 29 shots in the game, including three power plays for the Blue Jackets
A Look Ahead
The Red Wings take on the Colorado Avalanche this Saturday in their Stadium Series matchup at Coors Field. Game time is set for 8:00 ET. February 29th is the final game of the month, when the team travels to Dallas.