There were some pretty big games around the league today, but the most directly important was probably the first of a Detroit Red Wings-Columbus Blue Jackets’ home-and-home series.
Detroit took this one in Columbus and didn’t allow them a single point, strengthening their flimsy lead in the Central Division by a full two points because they defeated them during regulation.
The Red Wings now have 14 wins and 30 points in 20 games played while the Blue Jackets also have 14 wins, but only 28 points in 21 games played. The game took place during a rare home sellout for the Blue Jackets as Columbus dropped to 6-6-0 at home.
Jimmy Howard played outstanding hockey, stopping 34 out of 35 pucks to beat Steve Mason, who was also pretty strong by making 30 out of 32 saves. Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula scored the first two goals for the Red Wings, who were able to hold off the Blue Jackets despite a third period goal by Antoine Vermette.
In their last game, it seemed promising that Columbus won without Rick Nash being involved. Still, after being named one of the players of the week, he’s gone two games without a goal. They need him to stick with Detroit in the race for the division title.
The two teams will go to the Motor City with the Red Wings in the driver’s seat. (Sorry, my inner bad pun writer forced me to write that.) Detroit is vicious at home (9-1-2), but if Columbus needs a bright side to look on, they’re actually much better away from Ohio (their road record is 8-1-0).
It all sets up what should be an intriguing, important-in-the-moment game at Joe Louis Arena tomorrow night. We’ll keep you updated.