Well, that's a dramatic way to start the season.
Somewhat lost in the offseason talk about Artemi Panarin's future is the fact that he's a damn good hockey player – and he sure reminded everyone of that tonight, firing the game-winning goal in overtime to lift the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Detroit Red Wings.
That wasn't Panarin's only point of the night. He also added an assist on Cam Atkinson's power play goal in the game's first period and was a possession force all night long. He wasn't the only Blue Jacket with a standout performance tonight, either.
After undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, Zach Werenski was a bit of a question mark to even play on opening night, but he did far more than just suiting up. Without Seth Jones in the lineup, the Blue Jackets called upon Werenski to carry the team's defensive group, and he did just that, playing more than 28 minutes and pumping seven shots on net.
Another question for Columbus coming into the game was whether or not the power play had improved after limping to the finish last season – they delivered with a goal on their first opportunity of the season. Unfortunately, it was tough sledding after that, as they couldn't convert on any of their next five power plays.
Columbus started backup goaltender Joonas Korpisalo in net to allow Sergei Bobrovsky to play in the home opener tomorrow night, and despite not being tested much during regulation, Korpisalo stood tall in the overtime period, making a couple of ridiculous saves leading up to Panarin's goal.
On the other end, Detroit's Jimmy Howard was outstanding, stopping 36 of the Blue Jackets 39 shots. Columbus had the Red Wings hemmed in their own zone for much of the night, as Detroit managed just 20 shots on goal the whole night.
As far as new additions to the Blue Jackets lineup, Anthony Duclair made a few jaws drop with his assist on the second Columbus goal. Duclair was able to bat down a pass in the defensive zone and wheel his way all the way to the Detroit crease, where he spun and threw the puck off of Howard's pads. From there, Josh Anderson had no trouble knocking the puck home for a 2-1 Blue Jackets lead.
That lead didn't last long – Tyler Bertuzzi drew the Red Wings even with a power play goal of his own, and the game stayed tied from there until Panarin rifled a puck over Howard's right pad to end it.
While Murray drew into the lineup, superstar defenseman Seth Jones appears to still be a long way from returning to the lineup. His expected timetable would put his return around the end of October.
The Blue Jackets are now in the midst of their first back-to-back – the second leg of which will come tomorrow at home against Carolina – and they won't have another back-to-back until November.
After Korpisalo got the nod in net tonight, two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky will start the home opener tomorrow night at Nationwide Arena.
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