Howard replaces shaky Mrazek in loss to Columbus

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek, right, is replaced by Jimmy Howard after Mrazek allowed his third goal in the second period against the Blue Jackets at Joe Louis Arena on Friday.

Detroit – The struggles at Joe Louis Arena continue for the Red Wings.

They’re definitely having difficulty getting into the victory column in this farewell season at JLA, Friday losing 4-1 to Columbus.

BOX SCORE: Blue Jackets 4, Red Wings 1

After beginning the season with four consecutive victories at JLA, the Red Wings (13-12-3, 29 points) are now 2-7-2 in the last 11 games on home ice – and Friday’s game was the start of  a season-high, five-game homestand.

This was one of the more frustrating home losses, a game with fluky bounces going the Blue Jackets’ way, and Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky outplaying Petr Mrazek.

“It’s a tough one,” forward Steve Ott said. “We did some good things. Their goalie played extremely well throughout. If you score one of those, the momentum switches to our favor.

“We did some things, but we couldn’t find a way to score a goal.”

Columbus (16-5-4, 36 points) stretched its current win-streak to five games, while enjoying an unexpected outstanding season.

“One of our better home games for sure,” said coach Jeff Blashill of the game. “We created chances, we didn’t give up a whjole bunch. We were disciplined and didn’t take any penalties.

“Not satisfied with the result but certainly from a process standpoint, against a team that’s obviously had a great start, we did a lot of good things.”

Dylan Larkin (power play) scored for the Red Wings.

Cam Atkinson (shorthanded), Brandon Dubinsky, Lukas Sedlak and Sam Gagner (empty net) had Columbus' goals.

Longtime teammates Larkin, Werenski now on opposite sides of ice

This wasn’t the best of nights for Mrazek, who was pulled in the second period for Jimmy Howard after allowing Sedlak’s goal.

Twice Mrazek couldn’t snag pucks with his net, and both times it resulted in Columbus goals. He allowed three goals on 17 shots.

“Both of those rebounds, the second and third goals, were out of his glove and they are ones he is going to want to hold to for sure,” Blashill said. “It’ll create chaos and both ended up in our net.

“It was unfortunate that way. He has to do a better job of holding on to those pucks, two incidents and they ended up costing us.”

On Atkinson’s goal, the speedy Blue Jackets forward beat Mrazek on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush from the dot to open the game’s scoring at 3 minutes 8 seconds of the first period.

Dubinsky’s goal gave the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead at 8:34 of the second period on a Mrazek misplay.

Mrazek stopped Boone Jenner’s shot and appeared to freeze it, then decided against it and played the puck.

But with both Red Wings defensemen – Mike Green and Danny DeKeyser – battling Jenner in the corner, Columbus got control of the puck, got it on net, and Dubinsky converted a rebound alone in front.

“When the puck goes out that far you can’t cover the puck,” Blashill said. “There’s a little bit of gray area in the rules but because it’s not in the sphere and it bounces further away at that point, they’re telling him to play it and he played it and it ended up in our net.”

The Blue Jackets chased Mrazek after the third goal, when Markus Nutivaara’s shot from the point bounced off Mrazek’s glove, and Sedlak but pack the rebound with a backhand shot in the slot.

Howard stopped all seven shots he faced in relief.

“I felt good,” said Howard, who was activated off the injured list (groin) Wednesday. “I was excited to be out there again and just trying to knock off some result.”