COLUMBUS, Oh. (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - The Detroit Red Wings played well for 50 minutes, then came unglued in less than a minute.
The Wings surrendered two goals in a span of 40 seconds midway through the third period and went on to lose to the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-1, on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena.
It was a tough loss to take for the Wings, especially after they out-shot the Blue Jackets, 18-8 in the first period.
"Didn't stick with our game plan for 60 minutes," said Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. "Guess in a way they had better patience than we did tonight.
"I thought we did a lot of good things in the first. We had three (power play) opportunities and didn't get a chance to score. I thought we had a couple good looks, but we have to take advantage of those opportunities. I thought we had a really good first period, came out with a lot of jump and spent a lot of time in their zone. You get a couple goals there and I think the outcome could be different. No matter what, we have to be able to play better for 60 minutes."
The Blue Jackets moved two points ahead of the Wings in the race for one of the final playoff spots in the NHL's Eastern Conference.
Boone Jenner broke a 1-1 tie with 9:52 left in the third period. Jenner stripped Cory Emmerton of the puck behind the net, curled back into the right circle and fired a high wrister past Mrazek to the short side.
Forty seconds later, the Blue Jackets took a 3-1 lead on Brandon Dubinsky's 13th goal of the season.
Derek Mackenzie gave the Jackets a three-goal cushion at 15:48 of the third.
"I thought Mrazek gave us a real good opportunity," Babcock said.
Mrazek finished with 33 saves for the Wings.
Jimmy Howard was slated to start in net for the Wings, but he fell ill with the flu on Tuesday afternoon. It was announced shortly before the game began that Mrazek would start in net for the Wings instead.
"When they got their second goal, we came unraveled," Babcock said. "And we didn't do anything in the third."
Mrazek was making his eighth appearance this season for the Wings.
In seven games before Tuesday, Mrazek was 1-3-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. His lone win came on Nov. 2, when he made 14 saves in 5-0 win at Edmonton for his first career NHL shutout.
Red Wings forward Tomas Jurco did not play in the third period due to rib injury and is considered day-to-day. Jurco said he was cross-checked by Blake Comeau in the second period.
"Jurco was big loss for us," Babcock said. "It's hard to say that about a kid, but I mean, he's a big kid who can really skate and he helps that line go. As we moved around our lineup, I didn't think we were as good."
The Blue Jackets were playing for the first time since Monday's game at Dallas was postponed in the first period after Stars forward Rich Peverley suffered a cardiac event and collapsed on the bench. That game will be made up at an as yet undetermined date.
The Wings had an 18-8 edge in shots, but no lead, after the first period. The teams were tied 1-1 after 20 minutes.
The Wings were 0-for-3 on the power play in the first period, failing to take advantage of a couple chances after Jack Johnson was called for tripping at 1:17 and James Wisniewski took a delay of game penalty at 3:44 after knocking the Columbus net of its moorings.
The Blue Jackets went nearly eight minutes before they had their first shot on net.
Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser gave the Wings the early at 10:24. David Legwand assisted on DeKeyser's goal, which appeared to deflect in past Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
Nick Foligno tied the game for the Blue Jackets at 15:11. During a scramble in front of the net, Foligno was down on his stomach, but managed to knock the puck in with a backhand for his 17th goal of the season.
Bobrovsky finished with 39 saves for the Blue Jackets.
Contact George Sipple: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @georgesipple.