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Johnson, Blue Jackets outlast Red Wings in shootout
DETROIT — A rough night, an unbelievable save and an unlikely hero combined to bring an end to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ losing streak.
Jack Johnson beat Jimmy Howard in the ninth round of the shootout to earn the Blue Jackets a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
On Friday, the Blue Jackets lost 3-1 at home to the Carolina Hurricanes to drop to 0-3-1 in their last four games. When they tried to leave for Detroit after the game, mechanical problems grounded their charter flight and they didn’t arrive until the morning of the game.
But if the Blue Jackets were dealing with issues from fatigue, no one from the Red Wings noticed.
“It’s mental toughness,” Howard said. “Everyone has to go through it throughout the league.”
For their own part, the Wings were returning from a four-game road trip, the last three in Western Canada.
“Even though we were a little sleep-deprived. I thought we played a real good game,” Howard said.
The Blue Jackets not only halted their four-game losing skid with the victory, they handed the Red Wings their second straight loss. Detroit’s 12-game winning streak in shootouts also was also brought to an end.
“It’s not so much the win,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “For me what was encouraging was that we checked better. We got the (stuff) kicked out of us by Carolina with their sticks. They caused so many turnovers.
I thought as a team we concentrated on the checking part of the game.”
Artemi Panarin opened the scoring 67 seconds into the game for the Blue Jackets, while Andreas Athanasiou replied 6:11 into the third period.
Niklas Kronwall passed cross crease to Athanasiou, whose quick shot found the back of the net before Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (32 saves) could slide from post to post.
The Blue Jackets wasted little time in opening the scoring. A turnover by Red Wings forward Darren Helm while his team was in the midst of a change led to trouble.
David Savard fed a quick pass up the boards by Detroit players Frans Nielsen and Jonathan Ericsson. Oliver Bjorkstrand corralled the puck and fed a wide-open Panarin, who redirected Bjorkstrand’s feed past Howard (31 saves).
In the final minute of the opening period, Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson was foiled on a penalty shot by Howard, who got his glove on the shot. Anderson was awarded the penalty shot after being hooked by Detroit defenseman Mike Green while on a breakaway.
Tortorella offered no scientific or analytical explanation for his strategy as the shootout endured.
“Flip a coin,” Tortorella said. “Lars (assistant coach Brad Larsen) was telling me, Cam Atkinson was telling me, ‘Jack Johnson.’ I said, ‘I’m not using Jack.’”
As it went to Round 9, Tortorella finally relented.
“When I asked Jack, I said, ‘Are you any good at this’? And he said, ‘Yeah, I’m good,” Tortorella said. “That’s just how Jack is, with that deadpan look. He’s in the top three now.”
The game would have never got to the shootout were it not for a lunging, desperation save by Bobrovsky in overtime. Foiling a two-on-none break, he slid across to get the heel of his skate on a shot by Athanasiou that was headed for the open side of the net.
“Save of the year,” Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski said. “It was such a ridiculous save, we were all kind of laughing on the bench.”
Detroit has lost eight of nine this season when surrendering the first goal of the game. The Red Wings also fell to 2-3-1 at home this season.
“Honestly, it’s felt like we’ve been on the road the whole season, which we have been,” Howard said. “So it’s nice to be home. I think everyone’s really excited to be able to sleep in our own beds here consecutively.
“Hopefully we string some wins together here.”
NOTES: The Red Wings played without LW Justin Abdelkader, who suffered a fractured cheekbone in Thursday’s loss at Calgary. Abdelkader will have his injury assessed by a specialist Monday. ... Red Wings D Danny DeKeyser (sprained ankle) missed his 15th game in a row. ... LW David Booth was a healthy scratch. ... Blue Jackets C Zac Dalpe (upper body) missed his third straight game. .... LW Sonny Milano and D Scott Harrington were healthy scratches. ... C Lukas Sedlak (ankle) and LW Matt Calvert (upper body) are on injured reserve. ... Linesman David Brisebois briefly left the game early in the first period after hitting his head on the ice. Columbus D Markus Nutivaara lost his footing and accidentally took the legs out from under Brisebois.