Blue Jackets-Red Wings Preview

Columbus Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel felt like his team

skated right with Detroit in the opener of this home-and-home set,

but the Red Wings proved to be too much.

That has regularly been the case when these teams meet.

Trying to open a four-point lead over the Blue Jackets atop the

Central Division, the Red Wings look to sweep this weekend set and

beat Columbus for the eighth time in nine tries Sunday at Joe Louis

Arena.

These teams entered Friday’s game in Columbus tied for the most

points in the Western Conference with 28, and Detroit emerged with

a 2-1 victory.

The Red Wings (14-4-2) struck first with Johan Franzen’s goal at

7:04 of the second period, his team-leading 10th of the season, and

goaltender Jimmy Howard kept the lead intact by stopping Jared Boll

on a penalty shot three minutes later. Valtteri Filppula put

Detroit up 2-0 with a power-play goal at 8:06 in the third, and

Blue Jackets center Antoine Vermette scored a minute later to spoil

Howard’s shutout bid.

Columbus had its winning streak snapped at five, one short of

tying the franchise record.

“I thought we played a heck of a hockey game,” Arniel said. “We

got their A-game and I just thought we went stride for stride and

toe-to-toe (against them).”

The Blue Jackets (14-7-0) have had many close calls with the Red

Wings lately, but have rarely been on the winning end. The last six

meetings have each been decided by one goal, with Columbus winning

once.

The Red Wings have dominated this series since the Blue Jackets’

inaugural season in 2000-01, going 42-10-5 with one tie, not

including a first-round sweep in the 2009 playoffs. Detroit has

earned 15 of a possible 16 points in the past eight meetings and

has won seven of the last eight at Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings have been very strong at home this season, going

9-1-2, but Columbus is a league-best 8-1-0 on the road.

Howard has been instrumental to the Red Wings’ success in this

series. He stopped 34 shots Friday, improving to 6-0-1 with a 1.31

goals-against average and one shutout all-time against the Blue

Jackets.

Steve Mason was nearly as good as Howard on Friday, finishing

with 30 saves for Columbus, which hasn’t lost back-to-back games

all season.

“I thought Howard was good, I thought Mason was good,” Detroit

coach Mike Babcock said. “Both goaltenders were good. Howard had to

be. I mean we were shorthanded so often it wasn’t even funny.”

The Red Wings killed all five of Columbus’ power-play chances

Friday, and the Blue Jackets have just one goal in 25 opportunities

with the man advantage in their last eight games versus

Detroit.

Columbus is having similar problems with its power play this

season, going 3 for 37 in its last 10 games.

“It’s been a work in progress all year,” Arniel said.