COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstrand scored in the shootout and the Columbus Blue Jackets snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
Laine deked Thomas Greiss and beat him between the pads to lead off. Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins denied Jakub Vrana and Adam Erne, and Bjorkstrand’s shot sealed the win.
“I can’t remember the last time we won. It feels good,” Laine said.
Merzlikins, who had 41 saves and made two great stops in the waning seconds of the overtime period, got his second shutout of the season and seventh of his career.
“He gave us every opportunity to win that he could,” Laine said. “He was so, so good tonight. I think everybody saw that. He was just making some unbelievable saves all night long.”
Greiss had 33 saves for the Red Wings, who have lost five of their last six.
The bottom two teams in the Central Division generated lots of chances but had trouble finishing mostly disjointed offensive pushes. It was a big one for the Blue Jackets, who would have lost 10 straight for the first time in franchise history. They were 0-7-2 and hadn’t won in three weeks.
“I’m just happy the guys got to celebrate a little bit, getting a win,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “It’s been a long time.”
Detroit’s best offensive effort was in the second period when Vrana got a breakaway and beat both Blue Jackets’ defensemen down the ice but Merlikins made the stick save. Later Vladislav Namestnikov got a look at a wide open net from a sharp angle but missed with the shot.
An early first period Blue Jackets goal by Bjorkstrand was waved off after a video replay showed Eric Robinson was offside entering the zone.
“It wasn’t a 0-0 game from chances,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “Both teams had a number of chances. It was a little bit too loose for my liking, probably Torts’ liking (also).”
Goalie Joonas Korpisalo will be out for the rest of the season after suffering a lower-body injury in the third period of Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay. Matiss Kivlenieks was brought up from the taxi squad to back up Merzlikins the rest of the way.
FREE YOUR MIND
Merzlikins said the key to defending in a shootout is to not think about it.
“You don’t have to focus,” he said. “You don’t have to think, you just have to live the moment. … If you’re going to think, you’re going to get scored on on every single shot. You can’t think about what the guy is going to choose for you, to drag or make a move. So there is a completely free mind. You just do your job and have fun.”
Center Joe Veleno made his long-awaited NHL debut for the Red Wings, who were eager to see if the 30th overall 2018 draft pick is ready to part of their immediate future. The 21-year-old played this past season in the Swedish professional league, where he had 11 goals and nine assists in 46 games and suffered a mild concussion late in the season. Detroit chose him with one of the three picks obtained from Vegas in the 2018 Tomas Tatar trade. He had two shots on the evening.
Red Wings: At Carolina on Thursday, then a weekend home back-to-back with Tampa Bay.
Blue Jackets: Travel to Carolina Saturday before wrapping up the season with four games at home.
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