Detroit — You could almost sense the anxiety inside Joe Louis Arena once regulation ended and the Red Wings were forced to go into overtime against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Uh-oh, a potential shootout.
Sure enough, overtime passed without a goal.
Then, in the shootout, well, fans' worst fears were realized. Another shootout loss for the Red Wings, 1-0 (2-1 in the shootout).
Pavel Datsyuk scored the Red Wings goal in the shootout, while Gustav Nyquist and Henrik Zetterberg failed to convert against goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (30 saves).
Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner scored for Columbus in the shootout against Jimmy Howard (29 saves), giving the Blue Jackets (13-15-2, 28 points) their seventh consecutive victory.
The Red Wings (17-7-8, 42 points) fell to 1-6 in shootouts this season, in what is becoming a painful succession of important points lost.
"It was very tightly checked game by both sides," Howard said. "They just found a way in the skills competition."
The defeat was Howard's fifth shootout loss this season, but he deserved a better overall fate in this game.
"What I don't like about it (a shootout loss) is Howie stood on his head and he leaves the rink thinking he didn't win," coach Mike Babcock said. "It is what it is, there are points on the line, and we have to find a way."
The Red Wings' lack of success in shootouts has contributed to their current four-game winless streak (0-1-3).
"It was a tight played game," said Zetterberg, who saw his goal-less streak reach 10 games. "Both teams played good defense. Both teams played with enough chances to score more goals. Unfortunately we didn't do that."
Never mind the shootout, the Red Wings aren't scoring many goals in regulation lately, either, only four in the last four games.
"We had a stretch there where we scored a lot of goals but at the same time, the other teams scored a lot on us, too," Zetterberg said. "We played a little better defense now and the offense is hurting a little bit."
Babcock isn't concerned about the dry spell on offense.
"There was tons of offense in the Florida game (Friday) and the Toronto game at home (Dec. 10), we didn't score but there was tons of offense," Babcock said. "It's like anything, you have to find a way to score goals. We're going to score goals, I'm not concerned about that."
Columbus had a pair of quality scoring opportunities early in the third period but Howard stood tall against both.
Howard frustrated Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert, who broke free behind the Red Wings defense early in the third period, then swallowed Jeremy Morin's tip on a 2-on-1 Blue Jackets rush.
Not ending there, Howard stopped Corey Tropp (Grosse Pointe/Michigan State) on the doorstep after a nice Blue Jackets rush and passing play.
But Howard's best save of the third period, arguably, was getting his skate on a nice drive to the net by Nick Foligno with about eight minutes left in regulation.
"I felt real good, no different than I have for pretty much (the entire season)," Howard said. "Any loss is tough."