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Blue Jackets top Wings, improve playoff position

The SportsXchange

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Blue Jackets were sick of talking about their anemic power play. So they put the matter to rest quickly Tuesday night.

The Blue Jackets scored two power-play goals, snapping an unsightly 0-for-36 drought, and earned a 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings before 15,103 in Nationwide Arena.

Center Ryan Johansen scored two goals, giving him 29 on the season, and center Brandon Dubinsky and right winger Cam Atkinson also scored, while defenseman James Wisniewski had three assists for the Blue Jackets.

"I'm really glad we were able to score on the man-advantage, and one of the reasons is so I can stop answering questions about it," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "We needed those two goals, absolutely."

Both of the Red Wings goals were scored by rookie center Gustav Nyquist, who has nine goals in his last six games and 25 goals on the season.

Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard made 24 saves.

The Blue Jackets used both goaltenders after Sergei Bobrovsky became sick with flu-like symptoms and left after the first period. His back-up, Curtis McElhinney, came on and stopped 22 of 23 shots for his first victory since Jan. 11.

The win allowed the Blue Jackets to leapfrog three teams -- including the Red Wings -- and take over seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

"Now we control our own destiny," Wisniewski said. "It's up to us if we make the playoffs or not. We don't have to worry about other teams if we just take care of it ourselves. It's so much easier when you're not chasing the pack this time of year."

In one fell swoop, the Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead and snapped their power-play slump, and it took only 95 seconds into the first period.

Johansen scored off his own rebound to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead at 1:35 of the first, the Jackets' first power play goal since March 4.

"The puck had been rimmed around and it bounced over our sticks a couple times at the blue line and you're saying 'Here we go again,'" Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "But we just kept going. We needed that goal for a lot of reasons, and I was glad to see the guys get rewarded."

The Jackets pushed the lead to 2-0 at 12:46, again with a power play goal. This one was actually scored by Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who inadvertently tipped in a pass across the slot from Dubinsky.

"We have to be better on the kill," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "You take the penalty, you better kill it.

"I thought we battled fine, and we had some chances. We had empty nets. We just couldn't get the one more we needed."

The Wings pulled to 2-2 on Nyquist's goals at 14:55 of the first and 10:58 of the second, but the Jackets regained the lead on a disputed goal at 6:58 of the third.

The goal was scored off a rush by Atkinson, but the net was clearly dislodged from its moorings before Atkinson swept the puck past Howard.

The goal was immediately called a good goal by NHL referree Chris Rooney, and it was allowed to stand after a brief review from the NHL's video room in Toronto.

Rooney ruled that Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith had shoved Atkinson into the crossbar, thus intentionally dislodging the net.

The Red Wings were not pleased; Howard was sarcastic.

"I guess it's something to remember here and keep in the back of our minds," Howard said. "If you knock the net off, just throw it in there and it should count."

The Blue Jackets improved to 7-1-1 in their last nine games against the Red Wings, their former Central Division rivals the past 12 seasons.

NOTES: Blue Jackets G Sergei Bobrovsky made his 19th consecutive start for the Blue Jackets. ... Red Wings RW Todd Bertuzzi was back in the lineup after missing one game with an undisclosed affliction. ... Blue Jackets D Nikita Nikitin was a healthy scratch for the first time since November. ... On Saturday, Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he sells Columbus to recruits as a city where "really there are no professional sports teams." On Tuesday, he apologized to the Blue Jackets and the Major League Soccer Columbus Crew, saying he misspoke and intended to say there is not an NFL team in Columbus.
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