Saturday nights battle at Joe Louis Arena wasn’t easy. It took coming from behind on two separate occasions, battling through a more than 30 minute scoring funk, and converting when it counted in the shootout.
But, in the end, the Detroit Red Wings outlasted the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2, to pick up their 16th consecutive win at home.
The two clubs traded goals for the majority of regulation. Ryan Russell put the Jackets on top just under nine minutes into the contest, but Detroit matched him later in the period off the stick of Niklas Kronwall.
In the second, Nikita Nikitin (CBJ) and Nicklas Lidstrom (DET) capitalized on power play opportunities to keep the two squads deadlocked at two heading into the final frame. The Red Wings were 1/3 on the penalty kill, while Columbus stopped three of four.
From there, all scoring stopped for the entirety of the third period and overtime. In all, Curtis Sanford sent away 29 snipes from Detroit’s lethal offense. Jimmy Howard faced only 19 shots but did enough to keep the Wings tied with the Jackets heading into the shootout.
Not surprisingly, the shootout was an entertaining defensive struggle, just as the majority of the contest had been. Neither team scored in the preliminary three rounds, but it was Valtteri Flippula that snuck one past Sanford in the fourth to lock up the win.
Detroit’s 16th straight home win is now the fourth best mark in NHL history. They are only behind the Bruins of 1970-71 who won 19 in-a-row, and the Flyers of 1975-76 and Bruins of 1929-30 who notched 20 consecutive.
Unnecessarily close contests have become a common scenario for the Red Wings as well. The Wings have now won six straight overall, with four coming in a shootout and another coming in overtime.
Next up, Detroit will host the St. Louis Blues on Monday night, in what could be the most difficult game standing in its way of breaking the NHL’s consecutive home wins record. Following the Blues, the Wings will face five road matchups before returning to Joe Louis Arena for a six-game stand.