COLUMBUS, Ohio – Antoine Vermette had the only goal in a shootout and Steve Mason stopped all four shots he faced in the tiebreaker in the Columbus Blue Jackets' 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.
Vermette, shooting fourth, slid a backhander between the leg pads of third-string goalie Joey MacDonald, who came on in the first period after Jimmy Howard was sidelined by a bruised knee.
Johan Franzen then had a chance to continue the shootout, but his shot was turned aside by Mason, who had 26 saves in regulation and overtime.
Jake Voracek and Grant Clitsome scored in regulation for Columbus, which ended a five-game losing skid while collecting the 300th victory in franchise history.
Drew Miller and Jiri Hudler scored for Detroit, which found out after the game that Tomas Holmstrom broke his hand and will be out four weeks.
Rick Nash, Kyle Wilson and Kristen Huselius failed to score for Columbus before Vermette's goal.
Mason was solid all night against the Red Wings but was at his best in the shootout, stopping Hudler, Todd Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg before Franzen. The Red Wings, who came in leading the NHL with 149 goals, have tormented Columbus since it came into the league. The Blue Jackets are just 16-35-9 in the series.
The teams will meet again Saturday night in Detroit. It was a pair of losses to the Red Wings in a similar back-to-back situation that kick-started the Blue Jackets on a 7-14-3 bad spell.
The first period was a disaster for the Red Wings, who had been given the previous two days to rest after returning from a four-game road trip.
Most important was Howard's injury.
Howard was untouched by another player as he blocked a shot by the Blue Jackets' Derick Brassard with 7:17 left in the opening period. He leaned down with his blocker, his legs folded underneath him, and fell to the ice. He lay there for several minutes before he was gingerly helped to the dressing room. The team later posted an update on its Twitter feed saying Howard had bruised a knee and was day-to-day.
MacDonald came on since backup Chris Osgood is already out due to a hernia.
Howard was hurt after the Blue Jackets had already grabbed a 2-0 lead.
Nash's shot from the top of the right circle was deflected wide of the goal off the stick of Nicklas Lidstrom. The puck caromed to the other side of the goal cage where Voracek beat defenseman Jonathan Ericsson to the puck and jammed it in for his ninth of the season.
Hudler's trip and a high-stick by Ericsson gave the Blue Jackets more than a minute of 5 on 3. With 2 seconds left with the two-man advantage, Howard got a glove on Clitsome's hard one-timer from the right point but it handcuffed him. The puck flipped over his head and into the goal behind him.
With the Wings short-handed early in the second period, Miller carried the puck along the right boards, faked a defenseman and then walked right past him, cruising in to beat Mason on the 1-on-3 to cut it to 2-1.
They almost tied it, again while a man down, a moment later but Darren Helm was held by Clitsome on the play and Mason made the stop.
Shortly after that penalty expired, Hudler caused a turnover with Mason poking the puck to the high slot. From there, Valtteri Filppula fed Hudler at the right doorstep to easily beat Mason and knot the score. The teams remained tied through a scoreless third.
NOTES: Seven of the last eight seven meetings have been decided by one goal. ... Columbus is 300-380-102 in its 10 seasons. ... Zetterberg had an 11-game points streak end.