The first two times Columbus met Detroit this season, the Blue Jackets were A)dealing with injuries to multiple key players, and B) on the road. Those factors contributed to 5-3 and 3-0 Red Wing victories. Last night, Gary Bettman and the Hockey Gods evened it up: Datsyuk and Lidstrom sat (a result of their injury-induced absence from the All-Star Weekend festivities), Zetterburg left late in the first period with back spasms, and the Blue Jackets took advantage of Detroit's 10 remaining forwards to delight the home crowd with a 3-2 overtime win.
Rick Nash was, as Tex Jr. would say, a BEAST, scoring all three Columbus goals. Were it not for a heads-up play by the right post in the 1st period, Nash could've had a fourth. Nash's 1st goal, a shorthanded breakaway created by his anticipation and interception of a D-to-D pass, was electrifying. The hallmark of a superior player and Captain is the ability to strap the team to his back and carry it to victory when necessary, and Rick Nash did just that last night.
Credit for the W must extend beyond Nash, however. Steve Mason was solid, if unspectacular. Truthfully, the D in front of him was pretty solid, so Mason wasn't forced to be spectacular. To this observer, though, it looked like there were a few too many occasions in which the D backed in on Stevie Franchise, effectively screening him. Overall, however, I'd give the blueline corps an A-, as they did a good job of shutting down the low slot and hustled to rebounds, denying Detroit second chances.
I agree with Aaron Portzine of the Columbus Dispatch: Give Jason Chimera a C for his work at Center last night. Considering it was his first game at that position in a long, long time (since he was in the minors, perhaps?), and it came against Detroit, a C isn't so bad. Chimera won 3 of 5 faceoffs, tops among Columbus forwards.
Speaking of faceoffs...I think Detroit won all but ONE draw in the 3rd (at last count, they'd won 7 of 8), and they outshot Columbus in that frame, 9-2. Coincidence? I think not. The Jackets are a respectable 10th in the NHL in faceoff win pct. right now (50.8%), but up against the top-ranked Red Wings (55.7%), they won just 45%.
Overall, it was a good win for the Jackets. They needed to take advantage of a shorthanded Detroit club, and did so. Because the Wings are so far ahead in the standings, it doesn't matter that they picked up a point - what matters most is that Columbus earned two, and are still very much alive in the playoff race.
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