On the rebound: Red Wings dismantle Blue Jackets second straight day, 4-1
Detroit — For these past two days it’s been difficult to distinguish which team was chasing a playoff berth and the one in last place.
The Red Wings are the team in the Central Division cellar but didn’t look like it against Columbus, which looked lethargic.
And the Wings took advantage both days, Sunday completing a two-game weekend sweep with a 4-1 victory Sunday.
Coming off a poor performance Thursday in Nashville, one of the uglier losses of the season, the Red Wings rebounded with two character victories.
"It was probably our most complete effort from start to finish of any game this season," said coach Jeff Blashill of Sunday's victory. "Certainly Saturday was real good and our first period Saturday was great, but we sustained our forecheck way more and because of that, the ice was tilted to our end for large parts of the game.
"When they did have the puck, we competed exceedingly hard. We felt it was important to win the work ethic and competing battles and I was real proud of the guys how hard they played."
Michael Rasmussen drove to the net and banged in a rebound goal at 2 minutes, 51 seconds of the third period, snapping a 1-1 tie.
Columbus challenged there was goalie interference, and there was some contact, but it was officially ruled a goal for Rasmussen, his first this season.
Filip Hronek and Vladislav Namestnikov had empty-net goals, as the Wings clinched the outcome.
Evgeny Svechnikov scored the other Wings' goal, Svechnikov’s third, and goalie Calvin Pickard capped a memorable weekend with 16 saves and his first two wins as a Wing.
"We played hard, we competed all over the ice, and they got a couple of chances and Pixie (goalie Calvin Pickard) was back there all weekend rock solid," forward Dylan Larkin said. "He didn't give up any rebounds and swallowed everything up. He was the X-factor these past two games.
"We played hard and it was a much better effort than what we had in Nashville."
Jack Roslovic answered for the Jackets (13-15-8), who are winless in four games and slipping out of playoff contention.
Svechnikov opened the scoring with his third goal, midway in the first period.
Darren Helm fed Svechnikov on the wing, and Svechnikov cut through the slot. He snapped a shot that froze goalie Elvis Merzlikins, who was also partially screened, and barely reacted to Svechnikov’s shot.
The contributions from players such as Svechnikov, Rasmussen and Pickard, who came into the lineup after Thursday's loss, was big for the Wings.
"Those guys who've come back into the lineup have done a great job of giving a spark," Larkin said. "That's what it takes during a season like this one. A game every other day, and you need each and every guy, and those guys have come in and those guys had great games and gave us the spark we needed.
"We played together and as a team, which was great to see and that's how we have to play."
The Wings, for the second straight day, dominated in terms of shots, puck possession, and largely, energy.
But despite controlling play, the Wings only led by a goal and lost that lead when Roslovic tied the game at 18:25 of the second period.
The Wings failed to get the puck out of the zone, and Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand lifted a shot that Roslovic redirected in front of Pickard.
But Rasmussen's goal, early in the period, turned the momentum the Wings' way again.
And after a lot of questions, some doubt of how the rest of this season could look after three generally poor games, the Wings showed the resolve and character that was impressive.
"They really want to be a better team than what our record is," Blashill said. "We haven't been a good enough team, and they know that, but they want to be better and they were embarrassed on Thursday and rebounded and did an unbelievable job."