DETROIT — The Columbus Blue Jackets were one of the best NHL teams in overtime last year. With a talented player like Artemi Panarin, they may be tough to beat in 3-on-3 hockey again this season.
Panarin scored midway through overtime, lifting Columbus to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night in the opener for both teams.
“He doesn’t seem to get tired,” said Cam Atkinson , who scored the Blue Jackets’ first goal. “He’s a game-changer.”
Columbus was 9-3 in overtime last season, trailing only Pittsburgh’s rate of success. Detroit, meanwhile, was an NHL-worst 3-12 in overtime in 2017-18.
Panarin broke franchise records and set career highs with 55 assists and 82 points last season, his first in Columbus after being acquired in a trade with Chicago. The Russian winger likes to stay on the ice a lot and coach John Tortorella doesn’t have a problem with it.
“I’m not going to get in his way because he’s a game-breaker,” Tortorella said.
Atkinson and Josh Anderson gave Columbus the lead over the first two periods. Rookie Dennis Cholowski and Tyler Bertuzzi pulled the Red Wings into a tie with goals in the second period.
Joonas Korpisalo stopped 18 shots for the Blue Jackets. Detroit’s Jimmy Howard made 36 saves, helping the team send the game past regulation.
“We got outshot by a lot and we were outplayed territorially, but Jimmy gave us a chance at two points,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “We got one of them, and he was a big part of that.”
The rebuilding Red Wings honored Henrik Zetterberg, whose career is over because of a back ailment, before the game. Then, the team put five players on the ice who were playing for the first time in the NHL.
Cholowski, Christoffer Ehn, Michael Rasmussen, Filip Hronek and Libor Sulak all made their debut.
“With experience and games, they’re only going to get better and better,” Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader said. “With experience and work, they can really grow.”
The last time an NHL team had that many rookies playing in their first game together was Detroit in 1985. It has happened just two other times in the league since the 1979, with the Colorado Rockies and Vancouver Canucks in 1981.
Columbus is coming off consecutive postseason appearances for the first time in its 17-year history.
The Blue Jackets are in win-now mode , aiming to advance in the playoffs for the first time with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and Panarin entering the last year of their contracts.
Columbus controlled the play and the puck for most of the night, looking like it was on the power play during even-strength situations at times. The Red Wings were down a skater often, putting the Blue Jackets on the power play six times.
“We have to stay out of the box,” Blashill said. “We didn’t establish much of a forecheck, but every time we got a little momentum, we took another penalty. “
The Blue Jackets enjoyed a big shot advantage for much of the game, but Howard prevented them from converting on a lot of chances to score.
“We had full control,” Atkinson said. “We had plenty of opportunities and probably could’ve scored more, but Howard is a great goalie.”