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Blue Jackets break out of funk, beat Maple Leafs 4-2

The SportsXchange

COLUMBUS, Ohio - One day after questioning his club's "emotional attachment," Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards finally got the performance he wanted.

The Blue Jackets fell behind early but didn't fall apart this time, roaring back behind two goals from center Artem Anisimov to claim a 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings in front of 17,612 in Nationwide Arena.

Mark Letestu and James Wisniewski, who later left the game following a scary injury, also scored for the Blue Jackets, who had lost six of their previous seven games.

Columbus goaltender Steve Mason earned his first win of the season, making 32 saves.

"We couldn't be happier with the way we played tonight," Mason said. "This was the 60-minute effort we've been looking for."

The Red Wings, who needed a shootout to beat the Blue Jackets in Nationwide Arena on Jan. 21, seemed to run out of gas as the game moved along. They played in St. Louis on Friday, a 5-3 win.

"I thought we were good for about 12 minutes," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought they had more energy. They got better and better as the game went on and we got worse and worse."

Johan Franzen scored Detroit's only goal at 8:36 of the first period, pouncing on a rebound off a Niklas Kronwall shot and flipping it over Mason's right pad.

From then on, though, it was all Columbus.

The Blue Jackets pulled even with 1:43 remaining in the first, when Wisniewski stepped into a pass from Fedor Tyutin and scored through traffic from the blue line.

Early in the second, Wisniewski spun around, lost his balance and slammed awkwardly -- back first -- into the corner. He lay face-first on the ice for roughly five minutes before being helped to the dressing room.

Richards said after the game that Wisniewski suffered a concussion, as well as leg and back injuries. He couldn't say how long he'll be out of the lineup.

"It's awful," Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson said. "Just the way he's lying there, it's pretty scary. Once we saw him talking and moving, it made us feel good because we knew he'd be alright."

Less than a minute later, the Jackets took a 2-1 lead when Anisimov struck for his first.

Positioned near the goal line to the left of Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, Anisimov wristed a tight-angle shot that sent the water bottle flying behind Howard.

The Jackets pushed the lead to 3-1 when Anisimov finished a tic-tac-toe passing display from Jack Johnson and John Moore. Anisimov made a nifty move to get around Howard.

Anisimov leads the Blue Jackets with four goals this season. It marked the third two-goal game of his career.

The Jackets pushed the lead to 4-1 with their first short-handed goal of the season with 6:35 remaining in the third. Letestu took a pass from Brandon Dubinsky and guided the puck between Howard's pads with Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg chasing him.

Richards had criticized his players for not being ready to play too many times this season. The 3-1 lead they had late in the second was the first time they'd led by two goals all season.

"I really liked our game," Richards said. "I think our focus was there. There were contributions all over the ice, from the net out."

NOTES: Johnson played 34:59 of ice time, a franchise record. ... The Red Wings lost defenseman Brendan Smith with a shoulder injury in the first period. He did not return. Wings general manager Ken Holland said he'd miss at least 10 to 14 days. ... Red Wings defenseman Kent Huskins left Friday's 5-3 win over St. Louis after getting leveled on a clean hit by Blues captain David Backes, but he was back in the lineup last night. ... The Blue Jackets have allowed the game's first goal in seven of the first nine games this season. They've also allowed 11 first-period goals, most in the NHL.
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