Resilient Red Wings building confidence, visit Blue Jackets

NHL Hockey

After a successful homestand, the Detroit Red Wings look to take that good form on the road Monday when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Red Wings capped a 3-1-0 stretch on home ice Saturday with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Dylan Larkin and Pius Suter scored within a 45-second stretch during the second period, and Larkin’s second goal of the game sealed the win at 1:41 into overtime.

Detroit is 4-1-0 in its last five games. This solid play followed an uglier run in which the Red Wings went 0-3-1, and Larkin was impressed by how his team rebounded from that slump.

“The past few years, we haven’t had (that) response. We haven’t been able to dig ourselves out of holes,” Larkin said. This season, however, the Red Wings “came home and we turned it around.”

It was Larkin’s first two-goal game of the season, and his first since Jan. 16. The overtime winner was also Larkin’s 300th career NHL point.

The Red Wings now begin a four-game road trip, while the Blue Jackets close their own four-game homestand looking to hit the road on a high note. The Jackets are on their first losing streak of the season, having dropped games on back-to-back nights to the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers.

Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Rangers boiled down to one catastrophic 63 seconds of action in the second period. With the Blue Jackets leading 2-1, New York scored 7:39 into the period, then again 36 seconds later, and again 27 seconds after that, establishing a new Columbus franchise record for shortest span between three goals.

“For one minute there we just went to sleep, and it cost us the game,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “We lost a lot of wind (from) our sails there. It got pretty ugly there for a while.”

Elvis Merzlikins didn’t receive much help from his defense while stopping 36 of 41 shots. Merzlikins will likely be back in net on Monday, and perhaps due for a better performance with his New York nemeses out of town. The goalie has allowed nine goals in two starts against the Rangers this season but is 5-0-0 with a .951 save percentage in his other five starts.

Blue Jackets forwards Jakub Voracek and Oliver Bjorkstrand are each on five-game points streaks. Voracek has seven points (one goal, six assists) during his streak, while Bjorkstrand has six (two goals, four assists).

Monday’s game is the second of three meetings between the Red Wings and Blue Jackets this season. Their first game marked one of the Wings’ strongest performances of the season, as they outshot the Jackets by a 45-23 margin in a 4-1 victory in Detroit on Oct. 19.

Thomas Greiss stopped 22 of 23 shots to earn the victory in that first game. Assuming Detroit sticks to its usual goalie rotation of Greiss and Alex Nedeljkovic, Greiss is due to start on Monday and get another crack at Columbus.

The Wings are a perfect 12-for-12 on the penalty kill over their last four games.

Mitchell Stephens left Saturday’s game in the second period after suffering a lower-body injury. Stephens is unavailable for more than just Monday’s lineup, as Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said the forward will “miss some time” with the injury.

–Field Level Media

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