COLUMBUS, Ohio – Cam Atkinson scored a goal confirmed by video replay in the third period, and Ryan Johansen added an empty-netter for his second of the game to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
The Blue Jackets pulled even with the Red Wings with 80 points in the tight Eastern Conference playoff race.
Brandon Dubinsky and Johansen also had power-play goals, and Curtis McElhinney stopped 22 of 23 shots in relief of Sergei Bobrovsky for the Blue Jackets, who had lost three of four. James Wisniewski added three assists.
Gustav Nyquist, last week’s No. 1 star in the NHL, maintained his hot hand with two goals for the Red Wings, who were 3-0-1 in their previous four. He has 20 goals in his last 24 games.
With the score tied at 2, the Blue Jackets got the benefit of a call to the NHL review room in Toronto.
On an odd-man rush, Matt Calvert’s shot from the left wing was stopped on a toe save by Jimmy Howard, although the puck popped loose behind the goalie. Atkinson, racing down the right wing, was hit by Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith. Atkinson’s leg knocked the net off its moorings as he backhanded the loose puck into the cage, which was sliding away from the goal line.
The goal was ruled to be good because Smith’s hit on Atkinson had knocked the net loose – bringing a loud cheer from the crowd of 15,103.
McElhinney made the lead stand with big stops on Darren Helm with 8 minutes left, making a sprawling leg save, and again a minute later on Johan Franzen’s wraparound. With 1:44 left, he deflected Kyle Quincey’s blast from the high slot with his right shoulder.
The Blue Jackets were 0 for 36 on the power play over the previous 10 games, yet scored on their first two opportunities.
McElhinney came in to replace Bobrovsky, who left after making nine saves on 10 shots in the first period. Bobrovsky had the flu but started his 19th consecutive game for Columbus.
Down 2-1 midway through the second, the Red Wings tied it on Nyquist’s second of the night – with some help from a Columbus skate.
On a 2-on-2 rush, Tomas Tatar’s shot was blocked by McElhinney but the puck kicked out deep. It first ticked off Nyquist’s right skate and then off the trailing Johansen’s right skate, sending the puck into a wide-open net.
Howard stopped 23 of 26 shots.
Johansen netted his 28th at 1:35 of the opening period, shooting from the right wing with Howard blocking the shot high on his leg pads. The puck rebounded to rookie Boone Jenner at the edge of the crease and he whiffed on a shot with an almost empty net. But Johansen continued skating after his shot was blocked and tapped in the loose puck.
Columbus made it 2-0 at 12:46, again with an extra man. Dubinsky was in the right circle and tried to whip a pass through the crease to Atkinson at the far post, but Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser, in an attempt to intercept the pass, had the puck bounce off his stick and past Howard. It was Dubinsky’s 15th of the season.
The Red Wings cut the lead in half at 14:55 on a nifty pass by center Riley Sheahan. Sheahan had the puck in the slot with two Blue Jackets draped on him, but slid a pass blindly backward to Nyquist, who was alone.