The Columbus Blue Jackets have been losing players and gaining points.
That’s an unusual combination for a team that lost nine of its first 12 games.
Just this week, three players were placed on injured reserve and another, goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, will be out at least a week with a lower-body ailment.
The Blue Jackets have shown their depth over the past four games, collecting seven out of a possible eight points (3-0-1). They’ll look for two more when they host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
Columbus has won its last two games, posting a 5-4 overtime victory versus the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday and a 6-4 triumph against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
Joonas Korpisalo made 38 saves in the victory over the Canadiens.
“This wasn’t pretty (Thursday) at all, but you have to win ugly in this league at times,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “I thought ‘Korpi’ was outstanding. He didn’t have a ton of work in the first. He made some good saves, but the second and third he was busy. He was way too busy for my liking, but I don’t think it was for a lack of (trying). For whatever reason, it felt like we had one of those grenades with the pin pulled and we were just throwing it back and forth to each other.”
Fortunately, the Blue Jackets exploded for four goals in the third period against Montreal. Sean Kuraly scored midway through the period to give them a 4-3 lead, and a minute later he assisted on Mathieu Olivier’s first goal since March 25, 2021.
“It was about time,” Olivier said. “It was way overdue. Especially last year with the year I went through, I didn’t get a goal in the NHL last year. Yeah, it’s been a long time. I knew I could do it. I had some chances the last few games, I felt like, and it finally goes in.”
While Columbus is in the midst of a six-game homestand, Detroit is wrapping up a four-game road trip on Saturday.
The Red Wings snapped a four-game winless skid (0-2-2) with a 7-4 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. Like the Blue Jackets, Detroit had a four-goal flurry in the third period.
The Sharks tied the score at 4-4 with two goals midway through the period before Moritz Seider, last season’s Calder Trophy recipient, recorded his first goal this season. Pius Suter gave Detroit some breathing room with his fourth goal and the Wings sealed the win by scoring into an empty net.
“Really important,” Seider said in a postgame television interview. “We wanted to finish positive on this road trip and it was a big step toward that goal. Guys competed hard. There were some tough bounces and unlucky goals, but we stayed with it and fought all the way back and got the W.”
David Perron collected a goal and two assists for Detroit. Defenseman Jake Walman scored his first goal while playing in his second game this season.
“We got thoroughly out-competed in the first period that led to some of our issues,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “Probably of the nine periods we’ve been on this trip, that (first period) was probably our worst period. But I give our guys a ton of credit for bouncing back. … It was a resilient group and a real good win.”
–Field Level Media