Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 2/22/13
Lets just say the Columbus Blue Jackets were given that most-elusive second chance to make a first impression, and they made the most of it. Thursday nights game in Detroit was the first the Blue Jackets would play in front of new general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, who joined the team in the Motor City from his native Finland. It took a few days for the NHLs first-ever European GM to get all of his papers in order after being named to his position last week. But he had finally arrived in North America, and you can imagine the excitement level was high for him and the team when he addressed the players Monday at Joe Louis Arena and then settled in to see his guys take on the Red Wings. A funny thing happened, though, on the way to impressing the new boss. On the first shift of the game, Columbus coughed up the puck in its own zone, and talented Red Wings rookie Damien Brunner swept it from the left doorstep through the five-hole of Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Eighteen seconds into the hockey game, Kekalainens crew was down 1-0. That wasnt the end of the Blue Jackets early woes, either. Just over two minutes later, the team turned the puck over in its own zone again, and heres when it appeared the hockey gods were just being downright curmudgeonly. After Jack Johnson made a terrific block of Henrik Zetterbergs shot, the puck bounced right to Red Wings defenseman Brian Lashoff. His shot was then deftly deflected by Valerie Filppula in front of Bobrvosky, and the puck bounced straight down and through the five-hole. With two five-hole goals just 2:40 into the first period, the Red Wings had a 2-0 lead, and Mr. Kekalainen must have been feeling a lot more than jet lag from his seat high above rinkside. His team was doing a much better job impersonating a Chevy Chase pratfall than a hockey team focused on ending its six-game road losing streak. At this point, most of us were probably wondering if Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards would make a goaltending change. A coach will sometimes do that, not so much as an indictment of the goaltender, but as a way to get the teams attention and get it headed in a better direction. And the Blue Jackets definitely needed to recalibrate their collective GPS. But Richards, who admitted in the post-game scrum that he thought about a goalie change, stayed with Bobrovsky, and that non-move turned out to be a great move. From that point on, and from goaltender out, Columbus played like a different team. Less than two minutes after Detroit took its 2-0 lead, R.J. Umberger cut that lead in half, sweeping in a Cam Atkinson deflection from the low slot on the power play Despite carrying much of the play in the second period, however, the Blue Jackets still trailed after two periods, 2-1, and history wasnt on their side. Coming into Thursdays game, the team had trailed in 10 other games heading into the third period and compiled a record of 0-9-1, the only point coming in a shootout loss to these same Red Wings last month at Nationwide Arena. This night would be different. Derek Dorsett, who is always the embodiment of heart and soul on the ice, completed the second stage of his Gordie Howe hat trick by jamming his own rebound past Howard to tie the game at 5:03 of the third. Dorsett had fought Jordin Tootoo in the games first period and now needed an assist to complete the Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight). Hed get it, and he couldnt have picked a better time. Leading the rush on a 3-on-2 break in the games final minute, Dorsett crossed the Red Wings blue line and dished a sweet feed to Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski on the left side. Wisniewski then saucered a perfect pass to Blue Jackets forwards Vinny Prospal in front. Showing the composure and poise of an NHL veteran who had already scored 248 goals in the league, Prospal paused for a millisecond and realized he had no room to go forehand on Howard. So, of course, the Czech native went into full Prospal Pirouette mode and wired a backhander past Howard at the glove-side post with 24.7 seconds left in the game. Carrie Ann, Len, and Bruno all gave the move a 10. And just like that, the Columbus Blue Jackets had their first regulation victory when trailing after two periods. It was also the first time they had the lead at the end of any period on the road this season (25 periods, including the overtime game in Nashville, which they won in a shootout). In a season not exactly overflowing yet with high-water moments, this was surely one. The goaltender and his teammates all showed resolve and resiliency in earning the hard-fought road win in Detroit. And one could imagine the new boss, from his seat in Press Row at The Joe, looking down, pleased. At least with his second impression.
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