Pre-Game Skate: They are wearing the uniforms of the Detroit Red Wings...but. The Wings host the Blue Jackets here tonight minus 5 starters and minus their first and second string goaltenders and it all makes you have wonder for just how long the Wings can carry on (they enter tonight's game first in their division--the Central--and second in Western Conference 4 points back of first-place Vancouver) with all these injuries. Here's the current list of wounded Wings: Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary, Mike Modano, Tomas Holmstrom. Brad Stewart, Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood. How can this not have an impact? But, Detroit has points in 12 of their last 15 games, including last night's 3-2 shootout loss to these Blue Jackets in Columbus. Dating back to their last game before Christmas Detroit has gone 7-3-2, a win percentage of .667. Play .667 hockey all season and you wind up with a 109-point season which is pretty good. Here's the thing. Right now, the difference between being second in the West and 12th in the West is 15 points. That's 11 teams separated by 15 points. And Detroit is 9 points ahead of the 8th-place Chicago Blackhawks. I don't have to tell you the top 8 make the playoffs. That lead, 9 points, can disappear in a hurry if you, say, lose four in a row while the team chasing you, say, wins 4 in a row. So we shall see what we shall see. The teams are out, the line-ups are being announced, and we will--as they say--be back with the opening face-off, right after this.
7:10pm: That didn't take long. Derek Brassard has just scored his 10th firing his own rebound past Wings goalie Joey MacDonald at the :33 second mark. After Rick Nash won a face-off circle to the left, Brassard fiRED a close-in shot that MacDonald got a piece of before hit hit the post and came right back out in front. Brassard made no mistake with the second chance. All of this happened just :33 seconds after the aforementioned opening face-off. 0:33 OF FIRST PERIOD: COLUMBUS 1, DETROIT 0.
7:16PM: Oh, my. Now it's 2-0 Columbus. Grant Clitsome let this little wrist shot go from just inside the blue line and the thing hit Detroit's Justin Abdelkader in his left knee and skipped off the ice and bounced past MacDonald. We haven't yet played 5 minutes and the Blue Jackets have a big lead. 4:12 OF FIRST PERIOD: COLUMBUS 2, DETROIT 0.
7:21pm: If I have to leave you suddenly tonight it probably means I've been arrested for watching NFL football on my computer, illegally. (I've got the Ravens-Steelers on.) So, I'm trying to watch the hockey game and the football game, and write. Plus, I'm picking the 3 Stars of tonight's game here and I have to stay focused on that because I don't want to look like a fool later. Those picks go on the Official Boxscore, you know. That means they become a part of hockey history, forever. So, I don't like to mess them up. Good football game, though. Down early 21-7, Pittsburgh has stormed back to take a 24-21 lead over Baltimore with 6 minutes left in the game. Good stuff...
7:39pm: It started badly but ended well for Detroit, this first period. The Wings got 2 goals in the last 2 and a half minutes and are, somehow, tied here 2-2 after one. Johan Franzen made a great pass to an open-in-the-slot Valtteri Filppula and he rifled it home for his 11th goal of the season and a 2-1 game with 2:26 left in the period. With 39.9 seconds left in the first, Drew Miller, behind the goal line in the Columbus end, banked one in off the left skate off Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason to tie the game 2-2. Hard to believe. And with under 2 minutes to go in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have first-and-goal at the 1 with under 2 minutes to go in a 24-24 tie. Wow, etc. END OF FIRST PERIOD, DETROIT 2, COLUMBUS 2. (AND THE STEELERS UPSET THE RAVENS 31-24)
8:06pm: The tie didn't last long, but then again, neither did the 3-2 Columbus lead which the Blue Jackets grabbed at 2:57 on a breakaway goal by Matt Calvert. That's because Jonathan Ericsson scored exactly a minute later at 3:57 to re-tie this thing. Franzen lost Calvert in the neutral zone and he took a perfect in-stride pass to go in and score on the backhand on MacDonald (nice deke) but for the second time tonight Mason was victimized when a shot from behind his own red line banked off his backside and in. Calvert's goal was his second, Ericsson's his 3rd. 12:50 LEFT, SECOND PERIOD: DETROIT 3, COLUMBUS 3.
8:12pm: Columbus coach Scott Arniel looks like he thinks he needs a new goalie as Brian Rafalski scores from the slot on a shot which Mason got most of, but not all of. The puck had just enough left on it to slide across the goal line between Mason's legs as the Blue Jackets goalie was, once again, unable to corral the disc in the crease. It's Rafalski's 4th and it gives Detroit their first lead of the night. The goal comes at 8:02. 10:50 LEFT IN THE SECOND PERIOD: DETROIT 4, COLUMBUS 3.
8:37pm: The scoring flurry to begin the period turned out to be the only scoring of the period. So Detroit, 15-0-2 (.941) when leading after two periods, leads two periods into this one. MacDonald made his best save of the game late in the second with a kick save and a beauty off Fedor Tyutin with about 3 minutes left in the period. He dropped his left pad to deny Tyutin on a rebound. Franzen had Detroit's best chance of the period but Mason blockered him on a shot from right out in front. The Wings had 14 shots in the second, Columbus 13. For the game, Detroit has a 23-22 edge in shots on goal. AFTER 2 PERIODS: DETROIT 4, COLUMBUS 3.
8:57pm: Columbus has now scored a goal within the first three minutes of the start of each period tonight. Their goal in the 3rd, at 1:10 by R.J Umberger, has tied the game. Unberger beat Nicklas Lidstrom to a rebound (you don't exactly see that every night, now do you?) and tapped it past MacDonald to tie the game 4-4. 1:10 OF 3RD PERIOD: DETROIT 4, COLUMBUS 4.
8:59pm: Kris Draper has just restored Detroit's 1-goal lead at 3:32 of this 3rd period. Draper--who earlier tonight got his 200th career assist and who is making a strong case for first star considerations--deflected a shot on goal before shoveling the rebound home with but one hand on his stick. It's the 4th of the year for Draper, and it's a big one,. 3:32 OF 3RD PERIOD: DETROIT 5, COLUMBUS 4.
9:26PM: The Draper goal is standing up and the Columbus net is empty with 1:14 left in the game. Stay tuned...
We're watching Green Bay-Atlanta, too, just in case you were wondering. The NFL keeps kicking us off, but every time they do, we find the game somewhere else on the web.
AND COLUMBUS TIES IT WITH 1:04 LEFT. NASH, LEFT CIRCLE. MacDonald went down and the shot went up. Bad goal. AND NOW A REVIEW OF A POTENTIAL GAME-WINNER BY NASH ON A WRAP-AROUND WITH 8-SECONDS LEFT. STAND BY.
9:31pm: No goal. Overtime. Detroit is playing their 13th game in the last 21 nights and its overtime. Just like last night.
9:33pm: Franzen scores, Detroit wins 6-5! Franzen was alone in the left circle and went high blocker side on Mason. Off the post and in. A great shot and the Wings win. Gee, we were going to give Franzen a star tonight but went with Ericsson instead. Maybe they'll change it for me.
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