Mired in a nine-game losing streak, the Columbus Blue Jackets look to end their slide Tuesday night when they host the Detroit Red Wings.
The Blue Jackets are 0-7-2 over their last nine games, tied for the second-longest losing streak in franchise history. Another defeat would establish the Jackets’ longest single-season streak, as the Columbus team record of 14 consecutive losses spans both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.
Despite a solid road effort against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, the Jackets’ slide continued in a 4-3 overtime loss. Columbus (15-25-10, 40 points) twice held leads during the back-and-forth contest but succumbed to Victor Hedman’s goal 10 seconds into overtime.
“It’s good to be doing the right things and (making) sure you’re playing the right way, but it’s hard when you’re not getting the result,” said Jackets forward Eric Robinson, who recorded the first two-goal game of his NHL career. “I thought we did a pretty good job these past two games of sticking with it during tough times, and I think if we keep going with it, we’ll see a result here soon.”
The Lightning tied the game on Alex Barre-Boulet’s power-play goal 2:41 into the third period, just moments after Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo suffered a lower-body injury. Korpisalo immediately left the ice and was replaced by Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped seven of eight shots in the relief outing.
Merzlikins is the probable starter for Tuesday’s game, given Korpisalo’s injury. Merzlikins is 6-12-3 with a 2.94 goals against average and .910 save percentage over 24 appearances this season.
The Red Wings (17-25-8, 42 points) are also coming off an overtime defeat, falling to the Dallas Stars 2-1 Saturday. A Filip Hronek turnover led to Jamie Benn’s game-winning goal 32 seconds into overtime.
“You get into overtime and it’s always bitter when you lose, especially when you give up a needless chance like that,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “But you’ve got to execute better than that, in that situation.”
The extra period hasn’t been kind to the Wings this season, as Detroit has lost six consecutive overtime games. The club’s only OT victory came against the Blue Jackets back on January 19.
Earning even one point from Saturday’s game counts as an achievement for the Red Wings, considering Dallas had a whopping 52-17 shots advantage. Jonathan Bernier made a career-high 50 saves to keep the Wings afloat and in position to reach overtime.
It was a strong rebound performance by Bernier, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 12 shots in a 5-2 loss to Dallas in the previous game. Bernier could get another start Tuesday in a nod to his outstanding game, or the Red Wings could stick to their usual goaltender rotation and start Thomas Greiss against Columbus.
Detroit is 0-for-12 on the power play over its last six games, and 1-for-23 with the man advantage over its last 10 games.
Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand has six points (one goal, five assists) during a five-game points streak.
Tuesday’s game is the first of three meetings (all in Columbus) between the Central Division’s seventh and eighth place teams in their last six games of the regular season. Each team has won twice in regulation, and Detroit won an overtime game.
–Field Level Media