By MITCH STACY AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Joonas Korpisalo made 19 saves, Columbus scored three second-period goals, and the Blue Jackets won their first game played in front of home fans in more than a year, beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Cam Atkinson had a short-handed goal and an assist, and Riley Nash, Jack Roslovic and Boone Jenner also scored for the Blue Jackets, who snapped a five-game losing streak with their most complete game in weeks.
The state of Ohio loosened COVID-19 restrictions to allow 1,953 fans — about 10% of capacity — in Nationwide Arena, the first time the Blue Jackets have played a home game with spectators since March 1, 2020.
“It gave us so much momentum and energy,” Atkinson said. “You know I wasn’t sure at first in warm-ups just because you don’t know how many people 2,000 is (in a large arena). When we came out for the start of the game I was pleasantly shocked. That was a huge boost for us. I think we showed it.”
Anthony Mantha got his sixth goal of the season and Jonathan Bernier stopped 23 shots for the Red Wings before being relieved at the beginning of the third period by Thomas Greiss, who had nine saves and allowed no goals the rest of the way.
Detroit has lost two in a row and three of the last five.
Atkinson scored at 7:44 of the first period after the Blue Jackets were penalized for having too many men on the ice. He took the puck all the way from the Detroit zone and rifled a slap shot in off the post for his fourth goal this season against the man advantage.
Mantha tied the game with a power-play goal late in the first, beating Korpisalo with a wrist shot from the slot. But that would be it for the Red Wings.
Columbus grabbed the lead back in the second when Nash snapped a shot past Bernier’s glove. Roslovic got another on the power play, deflecting a Zach Weresnki long shot, and Jenner put the Blue Jackets up 4-1 with a wrist shot from the right circle late in the second.
That was gratifying for a Blue Jackets team that has given up some leads in the second period this season.
“Step in the right direction,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “But we’ve got to gain some traction and get some consistency and run some together here, so I hope the guys feel good about it.”
Columbus outshot Detroit 36-20 and had a 60-38 advantage in shot attempts.
“When the momentum shifted away from us, we allowed it to shift away from us,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “We didn’t have any push-back shifts at all.”
TURN IT AROUND
Columbus, despite losing the five previous games, began the day seven points out of the fourth playoff spot in the Central Division after being swept in a two-game series at Nashville.
“We wanted to turn the page and have a clean slate, and what better way to start that than to bring our fans inside the stadium and cheering us on,” Atkinson said. “That’s why we play the games, for the fans, right? ”
IS HE OR ISN’T HE?
D Patrik Nemeth came off COVID-19 protocol just before game. He had to sit out Sunday’s loss at Chicago after getting a false positive, Blashill said.
An apparent power-play goal by Seth Jones in the second period was taken off the board when a replay showed he was offside carrying the puck into the zone. The shot was perhaps the best of the season so far for usually prolific defenseman, who has just one goal this season. He picked up his 12th assist later on Jenner’s goal.
Red Wings: Plays at Carolina on Thursday before going home for six games.
Blue Jackets: Begins a two-game series at Dallas on Thursday night.
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By MITCH STACY AP Sports Writer