Some letdowns are inevitable in this shortened season, and a road game the night after an emotional win is the perfect time for one to creep in.
The Detroit Red Wings found that out the hard way on Saturday night, scoring early but then letting the game get away from them in a 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Artem Anisimov scored twice for the Jackets, and the bad injury news for the Wings continued to pile up when defenseman Brendan Smith left the game with an upper body ailment in the first period.
After Johan Franzen staked Detroit to a 1-0 lead on a rebound goal from a Niklas Kronwall shot, the Blue Jackets responded on the power play. James Wisniewski managed to get a point shot through heavy traffic to tie the game before the first break, but he would leave the game with an injury a short time later after getting his skates tangled with a teammate and going hard into the boards.
Anisimov took over after that, picking up steam as the Wings sagged. The forward beat goaltender Jimmy Howard from a tough angle for an unassisted goal early in the second period, then found the net again after weaving his way in from Howard’s right at the 17:18 mark of the second.
Any chance for the same kind of third period magic Detroit conjured up against St. Louis in the previous game was put to bed with a backbreaking shorthanded goal. Just seconds after R.J. Umberger went to the box for goaltender interference with 13:12 left, Columbus was able to generate a two-on-one break. Mark Letestu converted a well-timed feed from Brandon Dubinsky to put the game out of reach.
Damien Brunner managed to pull one goal back in the dying seconds to keep his six-game point streak alive. Henrik Zetterberg, fresh off a five-point performance on Friday, saw his own streak come to an end. Howard made 24 saves in taking the loss, while Columbus’ Steve Mason was sharp in stopping 32 of 34 shots.
The Red Wings get a rare two-day break before they return to action at home against Calgary on Tuesday night. A third meeting with the Blues looms on Friday, a road game that hopefully will turn out better than the 6-0 opening night loss at St. Louis. While the team awaits word on Smith, defenseman Ian White could return to action to face the Flames.
The game was over when…
The odd man rush on the last power play provided the dagger. A botched exchange with most of the team in front of the puck spelled disaster, and it showed why there is a risk in having Brunner man one of the points on the top PP unit.
The unsung Red Wings hero was…
I’ll go off the board and give the nod to the Blue Jackets crowd, one of the quietest I’ve heard this season. the lack of energy in the building didn’t hurt as the Red Wings got off to a good start, it just wasn’t enough to keep Columbus down the whole game. Honorable mention goes to Dan Cleary, who still isn’t scoring but at least worked himself into some good positions a couple of times.