Shots: 1 | +/-: 1
While it hasn’t necessarily been a stellar postseason for the 32-year-old Swede, he knows he must do better tonight if the Red Wings are to extend the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I need to be more active. I think I need to move more,” Ericsson admitted Thursday morning. “When I move with the puck more I make better plays and sometimes when you look for plays and you’re standing still it just kind of bad habits.”
On Sunday, Ericsson passed Brad Stuart (72) for ninth place in playoff games played among Red Wings’ defensemen. The top eight are: Nicklas Lidstrom (263), Marcel Pronovost (118), Niklas Kronwall (108), Chris Chelios (103), Red Kelly (94), Vladimir Konstantinov (82), Jack Stewart (80) and Viacheslav Fetisov (78).
Ericsson caught some unjust heat for a cross-checking penalty that occurred late in Game 4, setting up the Lightning’s game-winning goal on the power play with less than three minutes to go in the third period.
“I think sometimes he gets blamed for things that aren’t necessarily his fault,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “That was a breakdown that actually another player lost his coverage and he had to make up for. So I think sometimes when you’re just sitting in the stands you might not understand which guys are whose and so he gets blamed for some of that.
“Johnnie Ericsson when he is playing his best he’s using his big, huge frame and his skating ability to close gaps to not give too much space. He does a real good job when he’s playing his best at managing the puck. … He’s a big, hard, physical presence that keeps guys away from our net. So that’s what we need out of him.”
Keeping the Lightning’s shooters to the outside will play a role tonight. If Ericsson and the other defensemen can give goalie Petr Mrazek lanes for him to see shots it will help cut down on the Lightning offense.
“We all have to do a better job in boxing out,” Ericsson said. “That’s another thing we don’t want anyone to come into our crease or between the circles. We got to keep them to the outside. We got to own the middle everywhere on the ice.”
Ericsson and Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman were mic’ed up for Game 4. Watch video below
The power play has been rough but the Wings get a glorious opportunity when the Lightning picked up a bench minor for too many men on the ice, followed by Jason Garrison’s cross-checking penalty against Justin Abdelkader 46 seconds later.
Detroit managed to keep possession in the attacking zone the lion’s share of the 5-on-3 advantage that last 1:14. The best chance came when Pavel Datsyuk whistled a shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle. But the puck hit the near post and exited the crease to the right of goalie Ben Bishop.
It was Detroit’s second two-man advantage of the series. The Wings failed to capitalize on a 59-second 5 on 3 during the first period of Game 3.
The Wings had another scoring chance in the second half of the period. With 7:11 left on the clock, defenseman Danny DeKeyser cruised down the left wing before unleashing a quick wrist shot high that Bishop stopped with his blocker.
It’s just the second time in the series that the teams have gone into the first intermission scoreless. Game 3 Sunday in Detroit was scoreless until the Red Wings scored twice in the second period.
Kronwall picked up a hooking penalty in the final minute of the period. It was Detroit’s second minor infraction.
The Lightning will start the second period with 1:22 left on the power play.
DETROIT 0, TAMPA BAY 0
PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Drouin (too many men on the ice), 3:41; 2. TBL, Garrison (cross-checking), 4:27; 3. DET, Nyquist (slashing), 9:06; 4. DET, Kronwall (hooking), 19:21.
SHOTS: Detroit 9, Tampa Bay 8.
The Wings killed off the remaining 1:22 of Kronwall’s penalty. But the penalty kill was pressed back into service fairly quickly when Dylan Larkin went to the box for hooking at 2:53.
The PK did its job and actually managed to get offensive in the meantime as Riley Sheahan and Darren Helm each had shorthanded scoring chances.
A nice defensive play by Sheahan resulted in a shorthanded breakaway. The Wings’ forward blocked a pass attempt along the blue line by Hedman, and was off to the races, streaking through the neutral zone with plenty of time to decide how he was going to beat Bishop. It looked like Sheahan tried to go five-hole but the 6-foot-7 goalie quickly reacted to make the save with his pads.
The Wings had a second breakaway in the period. But Bishop came up huge again, this time stopping Helm who took a stretch pass from DeKeyser and headed into the clear before making a move to his left in an attempt to fool Bishop. The goalie didn’t bite and made the save to preserve a scoreless game.
The Lightning’s top assist man in this series, Tyler Johnson (five assists) went missing after the three-minute mark of the period. He left the ice and wasn’t slotted on the bench for the remainder of the frame.
Larkin had a good scoring chance in the waning minutes. But again, Bishop came up big save on Detroit's third breakaway, steering the puck into the corner with his right blocker.
DETROIT 0, TAMPA BAY 0
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Larkin (tripping), 2:53; 2. DET, Quincey (hooking), 9:47; 3. TBL, Hedman (holding), 14:01.
SHOTS: Detroit 14 (23), Tampa Bay 6 (14).
The Lightning’s Johnson returned for the start of the third period.
With 19:19 remaining, Bishop appeared to be hurt – albeit momentarily – by Sheahan’s rising slap shot that hit the goalie in the left shoulder.
Zetterberg had a chance but Ryan Callahan beat the Red Wings’ captain to a loose puck to the right of Bishop to knock it toward the half wall.
With less than 11 minutes to go, the Red Wings used their timeout following an icing.
The Lightning struggled with poor puck management and giveaways throughout the period but the Wings couldn’t capitalize on the home team’s miscues.
Johnson left the game for a second time, returning to the Lightning dressing room midway through the period. He was back with less than three minutes left in regulation.
Glendening had a scoring chance on another Lightning turnover. Bishop made the save sending the Lightning back up ice where they scored a fluky goal.
Petr Mrazek tried to play the puck to Ericsson behind the net but didn’t nudge it hard enough to avoid a charging Callahan, who threw the puck out front to Alex Killorn who potted the puck into the open net before the Wings’ goalie could get back to the crease.
It’s the third time in Datsyuk’s career that he was held without a point in a playoff series. The other two times occurred at the start of his career – in the 2002 Stanley Cup finals against Carolina and the next season when Detroit was swept by Anaheim in the 2003 Western Conference quarterfinals.
TAMPA BAY 1, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. TBL, Killorn (Callahan), 18:17.
PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Killorn (cross-checking), 19:16.
SHOTS: Detroit 11 (34), Tampa Bay 10 (24).
DETROIT – After missing Game 3, Kyle Quincey returned to the lineup Tuesday.
Quincey replaced Alexey Marchenko, who was hit in the second period by Tampa Bay's Vladislav Namestnikov and needed 12 stitches in his forehead.
Marchenko did return to the game in the third period and Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Monday that he believed everyone was available for Game 4.
Despite participating in Tuesday's morning skate, Marchenko did not feel well and was a scratch after he did not skate in pre-game warmups.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said before the game that one of his players was a question mark but none who appeared in Game 3 was a scratch.
Petr Mrazek got his second straight start for the Wings.
Ben Bishop also started after not practicing Monday or Tuesday morning.
"The one thing about the playoffs it’s not only the physical rest but the mental rest as well," Cooper said. "So we feel if he needs a little bit of a break we give it to him. He’s done this before where he hasn’t taken the ice and he’s come back and he’s been outstanding."
Before the Wings could get a shot on goal, the Lightning had a power play as Justin Abdelkader went off for holding Nikita Nesterov.
Just nine seconds into the man-advantage, Nikita Kucherov's shot from the right circle beat Mrazek. Tyler Johnson and Jonathan Drouin assisted.
Kucherov now has four goals and two assists while Johnson has two goals and five assists in the series.
The Wings did not record a shot until 11:56 of the period when Joakim Andersson got one through to Bishop.
Andreas Athanasiou, trying to create something with his speed, broke free for a 2-on-1 with Brendan Smith at 11:45, passing to Smith on the left but Bishop made the stop.
The Lightning had another power play as Niklas Kronwall was called for hooking at 14:20.
The Wings allowed two shots but managed to kill it off.
The Wings got a power play at 16:28 as Cedric Paquette was called for slashing Athanasiou.
Dylan Larkin had the only shot on goal with the man-advantage.
LIGHTNING 1, RED WINGS 0
SCORING: 1. TBL, PPG, Nikita Kucherov (4), Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin, 5:41.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, minor, Justin Abdelkader, holding, 5:32. 2. DET, minor, Niklas Kronwall, hooking, 14:20. 3. TBL, minor, Cedric Paquette, slashing, 16:28. 4. TBL, minor, Tyler Johnson, delay of game, 19:14.
SHOTS: Detroit 10, Tampa Bay 14.
The Wings started the period with 1:15 left on their power play but only managed one shot on it.
Danny DeKeyser made a nice block on Johnson's shot from the left circle on a 2-on-1 at 1:54.
The Wings struggled in the face-off circle in the first, winning just 37 percent.
Those problems continued in the second as the Lightning were able to have extensive offensive zone time.
Riley Sheahan was called for slashing at 9:07 and the Lightning capitalized once again.
At 10:31, Drouin passed to Kucherov in the slot and Kucherov collected his second of the game.
Jason Garrison got the second assist.
That gives Kucherov five goals and two assists in four games this series.
Less than a minute later, Alex Killorn had a breakaway that Mrazek was able to save.
The Wings weren't able to score on yet another Paquette penalty but did soon after.
Darren Helm scored on a rebound in front on the right side of the net, a rebound of Luke Glendening's shot. Brendan Smith got the second assist.
With Gustav Nyquist in the box for goaltender interference, Mrazek had to make a glove save on Victor Hedman while Abdelkader was without a stick at 18:34.
Nyquist came out of the box with speed and went to the net. Sheahan found him and Nyquist beat Bishop with 8.4 seconds left.
RED WINGS 2, LIGHTNING 2
SCORING: 1. TBL, PPG, Nikita Kucherov (5, 2nd of game), Jonathan Drouin, Jason Garrison, 10:31. 2. DET, Darren Helm (1), Luke Glendening, Brendan Smith, 14:53.
PENALTIES: 1. TBL, minor, Cedric Paquette, roughing, 5:10. 2. DET, minor, Joakim Andersson, roughing, 5:10. 3. DET, minor, Riley Sheahan, slashing, 9:07. 4. TBL, minor, Cedric Paquette, tripping, 12:42. 5. DET, minor, Gustav Nyquist, goaltender interference, 17:30.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (18), Tampa Bay 11 (25).
After tying the game late in the second, the Wings seemed to have a lot more energy as they came out for the third period.
Tatar got behind the Lightning defense at 2:05 but shot the puck wide.
The Wings had a golden chance at 6:32 when Larkin found Henrik Zetterberg at the left side of the net but former Wing Valtteri Filppula got enough stick on it to prevent Zetterberg from making a good shot.
At 11:44, Garrison went off for hooking Datsyuk.
Wings fans thought they had gotten the lead when Larkin went to the net but his shot went off the right post and never went in the net at 12:40.
The Wings, who had already allowed two power-play goals, gave up another at the worst time.
With 2:59 remaining, Ondrej Palat was on the left doorstep and received a nice pass from Drouin in the left circle and he didn't miss. Kucherov had the second
The Wings called timeout with 1:35 to play and pulled Mrazek but the Wings could not score.
LIGHTNING 3, RED WINGS 2
SCORING: 1. TBL, PPG, Ondrej Palat (1), Jonathan Drouin, Nikita Kucherov, 17:01.
PENALTIES: 1. TBL, minor, Jason Garrison, hooking, 11:44. 2. DET, minor, Jonathan Ericsson, cross-checking, 15:18.
SHOTS: Detroit 10 (28), Tampa Bay 8 (33).
DETROIT – The Red Wings are hoping that their home crowd will bring them the same luck that the Tampa Bay Lightning crowd brought for its team.
The Wings lost the first two games in Tampa but the Wings have been good at home since the All-Star break and are expecting to get a lift from their fans.
"It’s going to be fun and obviously the line matching will help," Riley Sheahan said. "At the same time, just having our home crowd – playoff games here are always fun – I think we’re all looking forward to it."
The Wings will start Petr Mrazek in goal for the first time this postseason. Mrazek started all seven games against the Lightning in the first round last year.
Also making his first appearance in this year's playoffs is defenseman Brendan Smith.
"I went through it last year, sitting the first two games," Smith said. "I thought I responded well by coming in and playing really good hockey. Arguably some of my best hockey was last series, so I think I’m built for the playoffs and that’s the kind of competitive nature I have in myself and I think I’ll do well just by playing my game ad trying to make sure I do my job and do it effectively. That’s what I’m looking forward to, to go out there and play."
Smith was paired with Mike Green during Sunday's morning skate.
Kyle Quincey, who has one assist and is minus-3, will sit.
"Whatever they throw at us, we have to adjust to it," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Ultimately we've got to trust your system, your compete level and your structure."
The fans were loud and excited, chanting, "Let's go, Red Wings" before the pre-game festivities even started and then got even louder once the game got underway.
The Wings attempted to slow down the hot line of Alex KIllorn-Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov with the Abdelkader-Glendening-Sheahan line.
On his second shift of the game, Brendan Smith hit Cedric Paquette (WATCH VIDEO ABOVE), earning a hearty cheer from the crowd.
Alexey Marchenko got the Wings' first shot on Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop at 2:30.
At 4:34, Braydon Coburn was called for tripping Darren Helm but Helm was also called for embellishment.
Bishop stopped Andreas Athanasiou's attempted deflection from the slot at 7:12 and Mrazek made the save on Mike Blunden's shot at the other end seconds later.
At 12:23, Sheahan got behind the defense but Bishop was able to make the glove save.
At 12:50, Athanasiou spun circles around defenseman Jason Garrison but couldn't get a quality shot on net.
At 14:32, Johnson was called for tripping Glendening.
Before the Wings could get a shot, Ondrej Palat also went off for tripping, giving the Wings 59 seconds with a two-man advantage.
The Wings managed two shots but failed to capitalize.
RED WINGS 0, LIGHTNING 0
PENALTIES: 1. TBL, minor, Braydon Coburn, tripping, 4:34. 2. DET, minor, Darren Helm, embellishment, 4:34. 3. TBL, minor, Tyler Johnson, tripping, 13:32. 4. TBL, minor, Ondrej Palat, tripping, 15:33.
SHOTS: Detroit 12, Tampa Bay 9.
The Wings had an early 2-on-1 as Athanasiou and Tatar skated into the Tampa Bay end.
Athanasiou took the shot from the left circle but Bishop stopped it.
Trenton, Mich. native Erik Condra had a chance on a rebound at 4:13 but the puck went right through the crease.
Andrej Sustr was called for hooking Glendening at 5:26 but the Wings were not able to record a shot on goal.
Victor Hedman was then called for slashing Helm at 7:37.
The Wings recorded three shots with the man-advantage but failed to score.
The Wings are just 1-for-18 on the power play, dating back to Game 6 of last year's series against the Lightning.
Midway through the period, Marchenko was hit by Vladislav Namestnikov and went right to the dressing room.
Athanasiou picked a nice time for his first career playoff goal, scoring short-side from the left circle at 12:42.
Tatar and Andersson picked up the assists.
The bounces had all been going the Lightning's way this series until late in the period.
Green broke his stick on a shot from the left point and the puck bounced off the boards back into the crease. Zetterberg crashed the net and the puck went off of his left skate into the net.
After a lengthy review, the officials decided there was no distinct kicking motion and it was a good goal.
So the Lightning challenged that Bishop had been interfered with on the play.
After that review, the officials ruled once again that the goal was good, so the Lightning lost their timeout.
RED WINGS 2, LIGHTNING 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Andreas Athanasiou (1), Tomas Tatar, Joakim Andersson, 12:42. 2. DET, Henrik Zetterberg (1), unassisted, 17:22.
PENALTIES: 1. TBL, minor, Andrej Sustr, hooking, 5:26. 2. TBL, minor, Victor Hedman, slashing, 7:37. 3. DET, minor, Henrik Zetterberg, interference, 18:52.
SHOTS: Detroit 11 (23), Tampa Bay 3 (12).
The Wings started in the period in the box but killed off the rest of the Lightning power play without allowing a shot.
Then Kucherov and Helm were called for unsportsmanlike conduct for a little shoving near the benches 58 seconds into the period.
Kronwall was called for holding Killorn at 2:23 but Johnson then hooked Smith, negating half their power play.
After those were killed off, Killorn was sent to the box for tripping Helm at 5:47.
Once again, no scoring with the man-advantage.
Marchenko returned to the game just before the midway point of the third.
At 12:11, Bishop stopped Datsyuk once with his mask and then with his glove on the rebound attempt.
Sheahan got the fans excited at 13:38 when he hit rookie Jonathan Drouin.
It was more penalty kill time for the Wings as Datsyuk was called for tripping Sustr at 14:20.
Penalty killers ruled the day again, not allowing a shot on net.
Coburn was battling Smith in front of the Wings' net and knocked him down.
When Smith hopped up, Mrazek got him in a bear hug, preventing him from retaliating.
Coburn was sent off for interference.
It is the third time Mrazek has shut out the Lightning in the playoffs.
RED WINGS 2, LIGHTNING 0
PENALTIES: 1. TBL, minor, Nikita Kucherov, unsportsmanlike conduct, :58. 2. DET, minor, Darren Helm, unsportsmanlike conduct, :58. 3. DET, minor, Niklas Kronwall, holding, 2:23. 4. TBL, minor, Tyler Johnson, hooking, 3:20. 5. DET, minor, Pavel Datsyuk, tripping, 14:20. 6. TBL, minor, Braydon Coburn, interference, 17:43.
SHOTS: Detroit 7 (30), Tampa Bay 4 (16).
TAMPA, Fla. – Pressure.
It’s a part of every player’s life when the puck drops in a Stanley Cup playoff game.
Every game, every period, every shift matters for the teams fortunate to fight for the trophy that only one can hoist at the end of a long, combative postseason.
“It’s the nature of the playoffs series and probably the nature within games,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.
The stresses facing the Red Wings tonight is they don’t want to return home in a 0-2 series deficit to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Dropping the first two games of any series is uncustomary for the Red Wings. During their remarkable playoff streak of 25-straight seasons, Detroit has a 2-7 series record when trailing 0-2 in a best-of-seven matchup. Of course, the last time they won such a series Nicklas Lidstrom scored a goal from center ice in Vancouver that turned that first-round series around and propelled the Wings to the 2002 Stanley Cup.
On four separate occasions this season the Wings have endured losing streaks of three-straight games in regulation. They’d like to avoid their first four-game drought with a win tonight in Game 2.
“One thing that our team has done a real good job at throughout their careers, and certainly this team in general, is we’ve stayed steady on the rudder,” Blashill said. “We’ve been pretty even keeled. We haven’t had long, long losing stretches. We’ve reacted well down the stretch to tough losses. We had a tough loss against Pittsburgh. We came back and played real well. We had a tough loss in Montreal and came back and won the next game. So I think we’ve stayed even keeled and I think we have a group of veterans that know how to do that.”
It might only be the second game between the Red Wings and Lightning but already there’s an intensity and animosity percolating in this series. Blashill would like to see his club play with a certain psychology tonight.
“Gotta make sure that we have what I talked about the other day about the next-shift mentality,” he said. “Whether you have success on the prior shift or you have a tough shift you gotta make sure you put it behind you and you go out and have a great next shift. You can’t do anything about what’s been done in the past. You can move forward, so I would say it’s something that’s extremely important, being able to handle momentum, especially on the road in other teams’ buildings. This building was loud and it will be real important tonight that we have a great next-shift mentality, especially when you get scored on.”
Mike Green and Justin Abdelkader scored for the Wings in Game 1. Green became just the fifth different Wings' defenseman to score a playoff goal since 2012. Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Brendan Smith (2) and Jakub Kindl have accounted for the other five goals since Lidstrom retired.
Much like Game 1, the Red Wings had a solid start to Game 2, but it was the Lightning that took a lead on the scoreboard into the first intermission.
The Red Wings got an early gift when Alex Killorn was given a two-minute minor for holding Jonathan Ericsson deep in Detroit’s defensive zone. But Detroit’s power play managed just one shot on goal – a six-footer by Henrik Zetterberg – that was easily stopped by Ben Bishop, who saw it all the way.
To no surprise, the intensity and pace escalated as the period wore on.
Midway through the period, Detroit held a 7-4 edge in shots but it was the Lightning who had a 4-0 advantage in scoring chances. Three of the four Lightning chances were unbelievable close to giving the home team an early lead but Jimmy Howard came up big, particularly on a rebounding opportunity by forward Mike Blunden at 6:37.
From that point on the Lightning attacked the Detroit zone in waves. Moments after Blunden’s chance, the Tyler Johnson line ratcheted up the pace when Nikita Kucherov had a chance but the Russian forward ended up in the net behind Howard instead of the puck.
Luke Glendening had perhaps the Wings’ biggest chance, but he fanned on a shot from in front of the blue paint with under 11 minutes to go in the period.
Howard was outstanding, keeping the Wings in the first period. The Lightning only got to the veteran goalie on a 5-on-3 power play when Gustav Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader went to the penalty box 27-seconds apart.
Kucherov’s third goal of the series gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 15:17. His goal came from almost exactly the same spot on the ice as his first goal in Game 1. The first-period goal was the first power-play goal of the series.
TAMPA BAY 1, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. TBL, Kucherov PPG (Hedman, Johnson), 15:17.
PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Killorn (holding), 2:00; 2. DET, Quincey (roughing), 11:11; 3. DET, Nyquist (slashing), 14:20; 4. DET, Abdelkader (tripping), 14:47.
SHOTS: Detroit 15, Tampa Bay 12.
The Lightning picked up where they left off causing pressure in the Red Wings’ end. That led to a Dylan Larkin hooking penalty.
Tampa Bay got little in terms of momentum on the ensuing man advantage.
Once his penalty expired, Larkin jumped out of the penalty box to join a rush that led to the rookie scoring his first postseason goal on his first-ever shot on goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Larkin raced through the attacking zone and fired a low shot that beat Bishop five-hole at 3:30.
But just over three minutes later, the Lightning regained a one-goal lead when center Brian Boyle took a drop pass from Jonathan Drouin in the slot, and using Mike Green as a screen, whistled a shot behind Howard.
Pavel Datsyuk didn’t finish the second period. It appeared the Red Wings’ center was hit in the face and may have lost a tooth during a skirmish in the corner to the left of the Lightning’s net. Datsyuk retaliated against Victor Hedman and picked up a roughing minor to boot. Tomas Tatar served Datsyuk’s penalty.
Tempers flared moments later when Danny DeKeyser hit Ondrej Palat behind the Wings’ net. Pushing and shoving ensued, resulting in Riley Sheahan and Drouin earning roughing penalties.
Palat went to the Lightning dressing room and did not return for the rest of the period.
TAMPA BAY 2, DETROIT 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Larkin (Ericsson, Kronwall), 3:30; 2. Boyle (Drouin, Coburn), 6:46.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Larkin (hooking), 1:12; 2. DET, Datsyuk (roughing), 10:21; 3. DET, Sheahan (roughing), 11:50; 4. TBL, Hedman (unsportsman-like), 11:50; 5. TBL, Drouin (roughing), 11:50; 6. TBL, Hedman (hooking), 14:03; 7. TBL, Boyle (interference), 17:35.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (23), Tampa Bay 9 (21).
Good puck movement by the Wings on the first power play of the third period, their sixth of the game. Nyquist had a golden chance from the right side of the net, but Bishop made an outstanding save, kicking out a rebound to Ryan Callahan, who cleared the puck out of the zone.
The Wings finally scored on the power play when Brad Richards used a Sheahan screen in front of Bishop to tie the game at 2-2. It was Detroit’s first power-play goal in the playoffs since Tomas Tatar scored in the second period of Game 6 against the Lighting last spring.
It took just four minutes for Tampa Bay to retake the lead when Johnson banged in a loose puck with Howard out of position near the far post.
Green had a good chance to get the Red Wings even late in the period. The Wings’ defenseman coasted into the slot, where he pulled the puck back away from a Lightning defender and flicked a high shot on Bishop who made a save with his right shoulder with 7:05 left.
The Johnson line struck again when Kucherov zipped around the Wings net and made a centering pass out front of Johnson (four points tonight) who fired a one-timer behind Howard. The goal was Johnson’s second of the night, second of the series, and the eighth postseason tally against Detroit since last April.
Killorn capped the scoring, banking in an empty-net goal with 2:44 left.
With less than a minute remaining, Richards hit Andrej Sustr in front of the Tampa Bay net. Nesterov came to his teammate’s defense before others got involved and punches were thrown and fighting majors were assessed to Abdelkader, Richards, Blunden and Nesterov.
The Red Wings return home down 0-2 in the series. It’s the first time Detroit has lost the first two games of a series since the 2011Western Conference semifinals against San Jose.
The Eastern Conference first-round series now heads to Detroit, where the Red Wings will host the Lightning in Game 3 Sunday at 7 p.m. EDT.
TAMPA BAY 5, DETROIT 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Richards PPG (Green, Tatar), 4:27; 2. TBL, Johnson (Killorn), 6:32; 3. TBL, Johnson (Kucherov, Garrison), 14:48; 4. TBL, Killorn ENG (Carle, Johnson), 17:16.
PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Nesterov (high-sticking), 2:53; 2. DET, Tatar (holding the stick), 6:57; 3. DET, Abdelkader (fighting, game misconduct), 19:06; 4. DET, Richards (slashing, fighting), 19:06; 5. TBL, Nesterov (high-sticking, fighting), 19:06; 6. TBL, Blunden (roughing), 19:06; 7. DET, Marchenko (10-min misconduct), 19:06; 8. DET, Larkin (slashing, 10-min misconduct), 19:06; 9. DET, Green (10-min misconduct), 19:06; 10. TBL, Callahan (roughing, 10-min misconduct), 19:06; 11. TBL, Paquette (10-min misconduct), 19:06; 12. TBL, Sustr (10-min misconduct), 19:06.
SHOTS: Detroit 9 (32), Tampa Bay 10 (31).
TAMPA, Fla. – If the Red Wings are to advance beyond their first-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning they need to do so as road warriors.
It’s become a common theme for the Wings. Detroit has started each of the past six playoff series away from the friendly confines of Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings face the defending Eastern Conference champion Lightning in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight season. Game 1 of their first-round series is tonight at Amalie Arena.
This is the seventh straight series that the Red Wings will begin on the road.
While the Wings have lost five of those six series, the bright side is they have returned home following Game 2 series splits with Nashville (2012), Anaheim, Chicago (2013), Boston (2014) and Tampa Bay (2015).
The Wings headed home last season with the series with the Lightning tied 1-1 after stealing Game 1 with a 3-2 victory at Amalie Arena.
Now they’ll have to steal another Game 1 from the Lightning.
“It's great that we're in, it's great that we were able to extend it to 25 years but now it's time to get to work, have some fun out there and go steal a game,” goalie Jimmy Howard said earlier in the week.
On the flip side, the three times the Lightning has had home-ice advantage in the playoffs since 2014 they’ve gone on the road with a split or worse.
Last spring, in their only other playoff meeting, the Lighting defeated Detroit a seven-game series, when goalie Ben Bishop posted a 31-save performance in a 2-0 Game 7 victory.
This season, the 6-foot-7 Bishop led the NHL with a 2.06 goals-against average and ranked second with a .926 save percentage. In last spring's playoff matchup he stopped 153 of 166 shots he faced to finish with a 1.87 GAA and a .922 save percentage against the Red Wings.
Home ice meant everything during the Wings-Lightning four-game regular-season series with each team winning twice at home.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, teams that win Game 1 in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoffs series hold an all-time series record of 437-200 – that’s a 68.6 winning percentage.
Wednesday morning coach Jeff Blashill called the regular season a dress rehearsal for the playoffs.
It was a fitting analogy for the Red Wings’ first-period struggles when faced with some adversity.
Detroit had a good start to Game 1. It began the game with a 6-0 edge in shots on goal. Unfortunately, all of its shots came from the outside where Bishop could easily track the puck.
It took some time for the Lightning to strike but when they did the Wings seemed to fall back on their heels for much of the second half of the period.
Tyler Johnson, who was a game-time decision with an upper-body injury sustained in the season-finale at Montreal last Saturday, set up the first goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Spokane, Wash., native blew through the neutral zone, and while cutting to the middle crossed the blue line and found linemate Nikita Kucherov for a one-timer from the left face-off circle. Howard wasn’t quick enough with his left glove hand to snag Kucherov’s rocket that sailed out of the net as fast as it entered it.
Puck possession was a problem for the Wings. The Lightning dominated the face-off circle early on, winning 11 straight draws. The Wings won just six of 20 first-period faceoffs.
TAMPA BAY 1, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. TBL, Kucherov (Johnson, Killorn), 6:23).
PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Sustr (tripping), 10:47; 2. DET, Kronwall (slashing), 11:12; 3. DET, DeKeyser (high-stick), 19:50; 4. TBL, Boyle (charging), 20:00.
SHOTS: Detroit 13, Tampa Bay 8.
The shots looked harmless enough but the slappers by Mike Green and Kyle Quincey – basically from the same spot on the ice near the half wall above the right face-off circle – found the back of the Lightning net to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead early in the second period.
Bishop was screened on both goals and hit something in front. Quincey’s shot was redirected by Abdelkader who was credited with his sixth career playoff goal.
Both goalies came up with splendid saves midway through the period. First, Bishop kept the Lightning within one goal when he made an outstanding left pad save on Brad Richards. On the same shift, Howard stoned Alex Killorn.
But moments later the Lightning tied things up when Kucherov scored his second goal of the game. The Russian forward pushed a rebound between Howard’s legs.
Things heated up late in the period when Braydon Coburn went after Dylan Larkin. The Lightning’s 6-foot-5 defenseman outweighs the Wings’ rookie by 36 pounds. Danny DeKeyser came to Larkin’s defense and engaged Coburn behind the Red Wings’ net. In all, 121 minutes in penalties were handed out, including roughing minors to DeKeyser, Larkin and Darren Helm. For his role in the skirmish, Coburn was assessed a double-minor for roughing.
DETROIT 2, TAMPA BAY 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Green (DeKeyser, Tatar), 2:11; 2. Abdelkader (Quincey), 4:07; 3. TBL, Kucherov (Coburn, Nesterov), 9:29.
PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Drouin (roughing) 6:34; 2. TBL, Killorn (interference), 11:42;
3. TBL, Coburn (double roughing), 11:42; 4. DET, Helm (roughing), 11:42; 5. DET, DeKeyser (roughing), 11:42; 6. DET, Larkin (roughing), 11:42; 7. TBL, Garrison (hooking), 13:49; 8. DET, Abdelkader (slashing), 15:32.
SHOTS: Detroit 13 (26), Tampa Bay 12 (20).
Pressure by the Red Wings in the offensive zone led to their fifth power play of the game.
While Bishop was making huge stops on Pavel Datsyuk and Andreas Athanasiou, the Lightning countered with a minor infraction when Jonathan Drouin cross-checked Athanasiou in the back, sending the Wings’ rookie face first to the ice. It was Drouin’s second minor penalty of the night.
However, the Wings never got anything going on their man advantage.
The Lightning thought they regained the lead on a goal by Victor Hedman at 6:55. But Drouin was clearly offsides and the Situation Room in Toronto overturned the scoring play on video replay.
Here is an explanation emailed by the league:
At 6:55 of the third period in the Red Wings/Lightning game, Detroit requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Tampa Bay was off-side prior to Victor Hedman’s goal.
After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Linesman, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”
Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Tampa Bay Lightning.
The clock is re-set to show 13:08 (6:52 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.
Since the Coach’s Challenge resulted in the original call being overturned, the Detroit Red Wings retain their time-out.
The Wings were unable to gain momentum from Tampa Bay’s disallowed goal. Instead, it was the Lightning, who turned up the pressure and got the goal back two minutes later when a turnover deep in the Wings’ zone led to Alex Killorn’s goal.
With 1:40 left the Wings lifted Howard for a sixth attacker, and 33 seconds later they used their timeout with a faceoff set to Bishop’s left. After Richards held the puck into the zone and Glendening and Green had great chances but missed.
The loss is the Wings’ 21st one-goal defeat of the season. They had a 27-9-11 record in such outcomes during the regular season.
The Wings-Lightning series will resume Friday at Amalie Arena with Game 2 at 7 p.m.
TAMPA BAY 3, DETROIT 2
SCORING: 1. TBL, Killorn (Johnson, Kucherov), 8:52;
PENALTIES: 1. TBL, Drouin (cross-checking), 2:50; 2. DET, Abdelkader (interference), 11:42; 3. DET, Abdelkader (roughing), 19:49; 4. TBL, Palat (roughing), 19:49; 5. DET, Zetterberg (charging), 20:00..
SHOTS: Detroit 10 (36), Tampa Bay 14 (34).
NEW YORK CITY – No scoreboard watching necessary.
It’s all up to the Red Wings, who control their fate today in a regular-season finale against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
A win in regulation or overtime and the Wings clinch a 25th straight berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs and finish in third place in the Atlantic Division, which will set up a first-round rematch with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
However, if the Wings don’t take care of business, they’ll need help in securing a playoff spot.
Here are three other ways for Detroit to clinch:
If the Wings win in a shootout they need Boston to lose in regulation or overtime, or for Philadelphia to go 1-0-1 or worse.
If the Wings lose in overtime or a shootout they need Boston to get one point or less, or for Philadelphia to go 1-1-0 or worse.
If the Wings lose in regulation they need Boston to lose in regulation, or for Philadelphia to go 0-1-1 or worse.
“The goal that we set at the beginning of the year was to try to win a Stanley Cup,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said, Saturday morning. “In order to do that you have to gain entrance into the Stanley Cup playoffs. That’s our focus here today, is to win a hockey game so we can gain entrance in the Stanley Cup playoffs, so we can have the opportunity to win a Cup. Certainly I’ve got great, unbelievable respect for this streak and what it’s meant, and the job that the managers, the players, the coaches that have been a part of that. But our main focus is to win a Stanley Cup this year.”
Jimmy Howard will get his fifth straight start. Blashill said Saturday morning that he expects forward Justin Abdelkader (lower body) to play. He was injured midway through the third period of Thursday’s 5-2 loss at Boston.
On Friday the Wings recalled Joakim Andersson from AHL Grand Rapids. Initially, it was thought to fill a lineup spot should Abdelkader not be able to go. However, Andersson will draw into the lineup and play right wing on the fourth line, replacing Tomas Jurco, who is a healthy scratch.
Backup goalie Antti Raanta will start for the Rangers. He has won each of his past three starts while posting a 1.67 goals-against average and .941 save percentage. Raanta relieved Henrik Lundqvist in the third period of Thursday’s loss to the New York Islanders, stopping all six shots he faced.
The Rangers will also be without forwards Mats Zuccarello and Viktor Stalberg, and defensemen Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. All are listed as injured.
“Well, we know they’ve got lots of really good players in the lineup and they’re a really good team,” Blashill said. “Look at (Raanta’s) numbers, his numbers are really good. I think they almost mirror (Lundqvist’s). His goals-against average is below Lundqvist and the save percentage is just on the other side of it. So we know it’s a great challenge today, regardless of who’s in there for them.”
It appeared that the Red Wings had grabbed an early lead when Andersson scored off a rebound on his first shift of the game at 2:42. But the Rangers, believing Andersson was off-sides on the rush, challenged the goal’s validity, which was eventually overturned by the Situation Room in Toronto.
Here is the explanation from Toronto:
At 2:42 of the first period in the Red Wings/Rangers game, New York requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Detroit's Joakim Andersson was off-side prior to his goal.
After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that Andersson was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Linesman, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”
Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Detroit Red Wings.
The clock is re-set to show 17:22 (2:38 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.
Since the Coach’s Challenge resulted in the original call being overturned, the New York Rangers retain their time-out.
Darren Helm had a good chance on a play made possible by Brad Richards on a rush into the attacking zone. With 5:25 left he made a centering pass to Helm on the left wing, where the speedy forward fired a shot into Raanta’s chest.
The Red Wings had the game’s first power play, though it was brief. Twenty seconds after Marc Staal went to the penalty box for his high stick on Helm, Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg was called for holding Jasper Fast.
On the ensuing four on four, the Rangers’ Dan Boyle scored on a 2-on-1 rush when he unleashed a shot that beat Howard low to the blocker side at 16:24.
SCOREBOARD WATCHING: David Pastrnak’s first period goal was reviewed for off-sides but confirmed by video replay, and the Bruins have a 1-0 lead after the first period at home over the Ottawa Senators. Backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson stopped all 17 shots in faced in the first period.
NY RANGERS 1, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. NYR, Boyle (Kreider), 16:24.
PENALTIES: 1. NYR, M. Staal (high-sticking), 15:06; 2. DET, Zetterberg (holding), 15:26.
SHOTS: Detroit 8, NY Rangers 7.
The Red Wings came out with far more energy than they seemed to have in the opening period. Detroit had several early scoring chances. Abdelkader, Tomas Tatar and Pavel Datsyuk all had good opportunities but Raanta stopped everything sent his way … at least early on.
Detroit took advantage of its first full power play chance to tie the score at 1-1. Riley Sheahan collected his fifth goal in nine games when Datsyuk’s shot from the left point caromed off the Wings’ big forward and popped over Raanta’s shoulder and into the net.
Rick Nash had a scoring chance when he used his speed to split the Wings’ defense. The Rangers’ center made a move to get around Howard’s right side, but the Wings’ goalie came up with a huge right pad save.
SCOREBOARD WATCHING: The Senators scored four unanswered goals in the second period to go up 4-1 on the Bruins. Goals Chris Neil, Zack Smith, Matt Puempel and Mika Zibanejad paced Ottawa’s offense burst.
DETROIT 1, NY RANGERS 1
SCORING: 1, DET, Sheahan PPG (Datsyuk, Green), 6:42.
PENALTIES: 1, NYR, Nash (tripping), 4:54; 2. DET, Quincey (roughing), 7:25.
SHOTS: Detroit 16 (24), NY Rangers 7 (14).
The Wings had several chances to take the lead early in the third. Luke Glendening, Zetterberg and Sheahan all had scoring chances from in close on redirects or rebounds.
But Raanta continued his marvelous performance Saturday afternoon, playing square to the shooters and shutting down the Wings’ chances. For more than half the period Detroit had a 7-1 edge in shots on goal.
But the Rangers turned up the pressure and regained the lead when Kevin Hayes tipped Dylan McIlrath’s wrister from the right point at 14:22.
The Wings elected to pull Howard for an extra attacked with just under three minutes to play. The strategy backfired when Oscar Lindberg, who assisted on the goal by Hayes, potted an empty-net goal to put the Rangers up 3-1 with 2:36 left in regulation.
Abdelkader added a goal for Detroit as it went back to 6 on 4, but the Wings couldn’t get to Raanta again, despite two minor penalties assessed to the Rangers in the final minute and a half.
Detroit didn’t do what it set out to do, which was get into the playoffs on its own.
The Wings will start the playoffs the way they did last spring – in the Sunshine State against their Atlantic Division rivals from Tampa Bay. The Lightning won last year’s first-round series in seven games.
SCOREBOARD WATCHING: Jean-Gabriel Pageau added an unassisted goal in the third for the Senators and Zack Smith scored his second of the game to help lift the Wings in to the postseason.
NY RANGERS 3, DETROIT 2
SCORING: 1. NYR, Hayes (McIlrath, Lindberg), 14:22; 2. NYR, Lindberg EN (Fast), 17:24; 3. DET, Abdelkader (Richards, Zetterberg), 18:26.
PENALTIES: 1. NYR, Boyle (cross-checking), 18:47; 2. NYR, M. Staal (tripping), 19:40.
SHOTS: Detroit 9 (33), NY Rangers 6 (20).
BOSTON – A win tonight over the Bruins will give the Red Wings their 25th consecutive postseason appearance, marking the longest playoff streak in the four major North American sports leagues.
For Jeff Blashill, the message to his players before this win-and-clinch game at TD Garden is the same thing the Red Wings’ coach has preached all season.
“Let’s come out and execute and focus on the process,” Blashill said two hours before puck drop. “Got to have great process for 60 minutes to give ourselves the best chance to win.”
Jimmy Howard gets the start. He’s 5-2-1 lifetime against the Bruins with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.
The Wings are coming off a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. The team checked into its hotel in downtown Boston at 3 a.m. But that shouldn't be an excuse, Blashill said.
“That has nothing to do with it. Let’s go play to win,” he said. “We’re going to put our guys out there the way we have all season long. The one thing that can be a strength of ours is the depth of our team so we got to make sure that all guys are going and everybody has an impact on the game.”
The Wings’ defensive process has definitely shown improvement, and Blashill would like to see that continue against the Bruins.
“I’d say the last three games we’ve played much better defensively,” he said. “We’ve done a good job of limiting opportunities against for the most part. When they have had opportunities our goaltender has been real good.”
The Red Wings enter Thursday's game with the most one-goal games this season. Detroit is 27-8-11. Since defeating Montreal, 4-3, at home on March 24, the Wings are 4-1-0 in the last five one-goal games.
Blashill said that experience, along with playing aside veterans is a tremendous teaching tool for young players, like Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Alexey Marchenko, who are new to the playoff push and the intensity of the postseason.
“They get a chance to learn from some of the best between Zetterberg, Kronwall, Datsyuk, Richards, guys who have been through lots of experiences,” Blashill said. “They get an opportunity to see how important it is to value the puck well, how important it is to take what’s given I’d probably say is the biggest thing. Let’s make plays when they’re plays available. Let’s not force plays if they’re not there.”
Definitely not the start the Red Wings wanted Thursday night.
Goals by David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead in the opening three minutes before many of the home fans had time to settle into their seats at TD Garden.
The Wings challenged Boston’s first goal set up by John-Michael Liles’ stretch pass that appeared, at first, to cross the blue line after Pastrnak, who raced around Wings defenseman Mike Green. Pastrnak’s unimpeded trip to the front of the net ended with the Bruins’ forward slipping a backhand shot underneath Howard.
The Red Wings challenged the play, but after conferring with the Situation Room in Toronto, the goal, at 1:25, was allowed to stand.
The Situation Room released the following explanation of the first goal:
At 1:25 of the first period in the Red Wings/Bruins game, Detroit requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Boston’s David Pastrnak was off-side prior to his goal.
After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that the Bruins entered the attacking zone legally prior to the goal.
Therefore the original call stands – good goal Boston Bruins.
Since the Coach’s Challenge did not result in the original call being overturned, the Detroit Red Wings forfeit their time-out.
Boston built a two-goal lead just 1:29 later when Brad Marchand scored his team-leading 37th goal on a one-timer from the right face-off circle.
Each team had two power-play chances in the period. The Wings managed to get one shot through to Boston goalie Tuukka Rask on the man-advantage.
BOSTON 2, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. BOS, Pastrnak (Liles, C. Miller), 1:25; 2. BOS, Marchand (Krug, Bergeron), 2:54.
PENALTIES: 1. BOS, McQuaid (interference), 5:20; 2. DET, DeKeyser (holding), 11:39; 3. BOS, McQuaid (delay of game), 14:06; 4. DET, Sheahan (hooking), 17:37.
SHOTS: Detroit 8, Boston 11.
The Wings had a chance to turn the tides early in the period when Matt Beleskey was called for cross-checking. But Detroit’s power play failed to convert on the two-minute advantage. In fact, they only got one shot on goal, that by defenseman Niklas Kronwall late in the chance.
The Bruins increased their lead while Jonathan Ericsson served a minor penalty for dragging down former teammate Landon Ferraro deep in the Wings’ zone. Michigan native Torey Krug made his hometown team pay, scoring his first power-play goal of the season.
Detroit got on the board when Marchenko’s shot from the bottom of the right face-off circle got through traffic and behind Rask. It was the second goal of the season for Marchenko and the third of his career.
BOSTON 3, DETROIT 1
SCORING: 1. BOS, Krug PPG (Eriksson, Krejci), 5:02; 2. DET, Marchenko (Zetterberg, Nyquist), 6:59.
PENALTIES: 1. BOS, Beleskey (cross-checking), 1:37; 2. DET, Ericsson (holding), 4:16.
SHOTS: Detroit 5 (13), Boston 12 (23).
Through the first 40 minutes of this game the Bruins minimized the Red Wings’ speed through the neutral zone. In the final 20 minutes they slammed the down on Detroit’s first opportunity to clinch a playoff berth.
Goals by Lee Stempniak and Loui Eriksson gave the Bruins a 5-1 lead in the opening 45 seconds of the final period. The two quick goals ended Howard’s night as he was lifted in favor of Petr Mrazek.
Howard, who made 21 saves, had recorded wins in each of his previous six starts, dating back to a 3-1 win at Columbus on March 17.
The power play that had been a source of strength over the last nine games was absent Thursday, mustering just two shots on goal while going 0 for 4 with the man advantage.
The Wings finished the game with 15 shots on goal. They got two – by Luke Glendening and Andreas Athanasiou – in the period.
Athanasiou’s wrist shot capped the scoring, getting through Rask with 1:23 left.
BOSTON 5, DETROIT 2
SCORING: 1. BOS, Stempniak (Krug, Marchand), 0:20; 2. BOS, Loui Eriksson (Krejci, Spooner), 0:45; 3. DET, Athanasiou (Marchenko, Quincey), 18:37.
PENALTIES: 1. BOS, Krug (holding), 2:42; 2. DET, Zetterberg (slashing), 4:57.
SHOTS: Detroit 2 (15), Boston 11 (34).
DETROIT -- The Wings and the Philadelphia Flyers are sticking with their goaltenders.
Jimmy Howard gets his third straight start and fourth in five games in the biggest game of the season.
Howard knows that getting off to a good start is key.
"It can go a long way," Howard said. "It’s tough to play from behind in this league. It’s going to be imperative we get off to a good start. I don’t think we’ll have an issue doing that."
Howard, who won back-to-back games at home against Minnesota and on the road in Toronto on Friday and Saturday, does not have the greatest numbers against the Flyers.
In five career games, he is 2-3-0 with a 4.09 goals-against average and .877 save percentage.
Steve Mason will be playing in his 10th straight game since Michal Neuvirth went down with a lower-body injury and 15th start in the last 16 games.
In 25 career games against the Wings, Mason is 12-11-2 with a 2.76 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.
Andrew MacDonald, who had to leave Sunday's game against Pittsburgh early after getting his head smashed into the boards, was originally not expected to play but said after Wednesday's morning skate that he is ready.
MacDonald will likely be paired with rookie Shayne Gostisbehere.
Both the Wings and Flyers have 91 points, but the Wings have played in 79 games, one more than the Flyers.
The Wings are currently third in the Atlantic Division and the Flyers hold the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins, the team the Wings face tomorrow in Boston, also have 91 points and sit just outside the playoff race.
The Flyers won the two previous games against the Wings, a 2-1 shootout loss at home Jan. 17, and a 4-3 defeat in Philadelphia March 15.
The Flyers have not swept the Wings in a season series since the 1982-83 season when they went 3-0-0. But they have beaten the Wings three straight times and six out of the last seven.
According to the Flyers' website, the Flyers are 6-0-0 when playing on NBC's Wednesday Night Rivalry, outscoring opponents, 20-11.
The Flyers got the first shot of the game, but Howard stopped Nick Schultz in the early going.
Mason had to come up big when Dylan Larkin sped around the net and passed to Henrik Zetterberg in the right circle at 3:20.
Brad Richards got in on the forecheck, forcing standout rookie Shayne Gostisbehere to throw the puck out of the corner. Darren Helm drove to the net and prevented Mason from getting a handle on it, scoring his 13th of the season at 7:57.
Howard made a nice save on Mark Streit's shot from the high slot after a Larkin turnover at 8:53.
The Wings were denied a shorthanded breakaway when Gostisbehere kept the puck in the zone with his hand and Helm about to take off.
Luke Glendening had three big hits in the Flyers' end during the penalty kill to keep the puck there, earning a standing ovation from the rowdy crowd.
Flyers leading scorer Claude Giroux had a good chance but shot wide with just over a minute left in the first.
Tempers flared again with 25.1 seconds left in the period as Giroux and Justin Abdelkader were each called for roughing.
RED WINGS 1, FLYERS 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Darren Helm (13), unassisted, 17:57.
PENALTIES: 1. PHI, minor, Jakub Voracek, tripping, 11:30. 2. DET, minor, Tomas Jurco, tripping, 16:32. 3. PHI, minor, Claude Giroux, roughing, 19:34. 4. DET, minor, Justin Abdelkader, roughing, 19:34.
SHOTS: Detroit 9, Philadelphia 6.
After ending their 4-on-4 play, Abdelkader headed back to the box for interfering with Brayden Schenn at 2:06.
Andreas Athanasiou, out for the penalty kill, got free on a shorthanded breakaway, deked right and went left, beating Mason at 3:15.
Like Helm's goal, Athanasiou's was unassisted.
It is only the Wings' second shorthanded goal scored this season. Riley Sheahan had the other on Feb. 23 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
With Radko Gudas in the box for slashing, Larkin had an open-net chance at 8:33 but Mason slid to the left and got his left pad in front, preventing the goal.
Helm had a breakaway at 10:12 but Mason made the save on that shot and also on Glendening's rebound attempt.
Pavel Datsyuk was called for tripping at 12:13.
Voracek hit the crossbar and the Wings also got a break when both Helm and Glendening were without their sticks on the penalty kill but the Flyers shot the puck into the netting late in the power play.
RED WINGS 2, FLYERS 0
SCORING: 1. DET, SHG, Andreas Athanasiou (8), unassisted, 3:15.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, minor, Justin Abdelkader, interference, 2:06. 2. PHI, minor, Radko Gudas, slashing, 7:28. 3. DET, minor, Pavel Datsyuk, tripping, 12:13. 4. PHI, minor, Michael Raffl, slashing, 17:54.
SHOTS: Detroit 10 (19), Philadelphia 12 (18).
Howard had a nice save on a deflection attempt in front by Chris VandeVelde on a pass from Gostisbehere at 2:52.
Mason stopped Zetterberg's shot from the slot at 4:01.
Gustav Nyquist had a chance from the slot at 5:51 but shot the puck high.
The Red Wings went back on the penalty kill at 8:06 when Danny DeKeyser's inadvertent high stick caught Schenn.
Voracek had a chance from the right circle, which was saved by Howard at 8:55.
Howard had to make a couple of good saves on Streit at 11:58 and 12:06 while the two teams were playing 4-on-4 with DeKeyser and Wayne Simmonds in the box for roughing.
Howard made another good save at 17:52 on Matt Read's bad-angle shot and did not allow a rebound.
Kyle Quincey's shot off the boards went into the empty net at 18:17. Howard picked up the assist.
Howard earned his 22nd career shutout, second of the season.
RED WINGS 3, FLYERS 0
SCORING: 1. DET, ENG, Kyle Quincey (4), Jimmy Howard, 18:17.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, minor, Danny DeKeyser, high-sticking, 8:06. 2. PHI, minor, Wayne Simmonds, roughing, 10:45. 3. DET, minor, Danny DeKeyser, roughing, 10:45. 4. PHI, minor, Michael Raffl, roughing, 14:45. 5. PHI, minor, Wayne Simmonds, elbowing, 14:45. 6. DET, minor, Justin Abdelkader, holding, 14:45.
SHOTS: Detroit 7 (26), Philadelphia 12 (30).
GAA: 2.84 | Sv%: .905
"He’s done a good job," Blashill said when the Wings arrived at Air Canada Centre for Saturday's game. "He did a good job last night, stopped the pucks he was supposed to stop, made a big save when he needed to make a big save. That’s what we’ve asked of him and that’s what he did."
Howard worked off-ice while Petr Mrazek participated in the optional morning skate.
Blashill already knew that the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Ottawa Senators, 3-2, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Islanders, 5-0.
"I think everybody's aware of it, we live in an age where you're aware what's going on," Blashill said. "But our biggest thing is we got to win our own hockey games for it to matter. If we don't win, we won't get in so we've got to win hockey games, we know we've got to win hockey games and certainly tonight, just like last night, just like the one after that, we've got to win hockey games."
Although the Toronto Maple Leafs are a young team missing a few players because of injury and are not pushing for the playoffs, the Wings know that doesn't mean they aren't dangerous.
"We know Toronto is going to play good," Blashill said. "We know they’re going to play extremely hard and they’ve got talented players although some are young and inexperienced, still very, very talented. We know they’re going to play with great structure and they play real hard so it will be a great challenge for us tonight."
Part of the challenge is fighting through any fatigue from playing the night before.
But the Wings did some good things, especially defensively, that they want to continue to do.
"I think that's important, box out early," said Dylan Larkin, who skated Saturday morning. "It'll be tough against a Toronto team, they have a lot of speed and big guys that get to those areas. I think the better we manage both net fronts, the more successful we'll be."
The Maple Leafs were the aggressors early, hitting Howard with four shots to the Wings' one in the early going.
That all changed when Jake Gardiner was called for tripping Gustav Nyquist at 7:33.
At 8:48, Brad Richards' shot from the left circle beat Sparks. Mike Green and Pavel Datsyuk, playing in his 950th career NHL game, assisted.
It marked eight straight games with a power-play goal for the Wings, extending a season high.
Justin Abdelkader had an excellent opportunity to make it 2-0 at 12:06 when the net was open but Sparks moved over in time to make the stop.
The Wings made it 2-0 with 2:41 left in the period.
Green's shot from just below the right circle beat Sparks, Green's seventh of the season.
Jonathan Ericsson and Luke Glendening assisted.
RED WINGS 2, MAPLE LEAFS 0
SCORING: 1. DET, PPG, Brad Richards (10), Mike Green, Pavel Datsyuk, 8:48. 2. DET, Mike Green (7), Jonathan Ericsson, Luke Glendening, 17:19.
PENALTIES: 1. TOR, minor, Jake Gardiner, tripping, 7:33.
SHOTS: Detroit 12, Toronto 8.
The Maple Leafs came out strong in the second, getting the first three shots on goal, before Andreas Athanasiou had one on Sparks at 1:54.
The Maple Leafs broke through at 2:44 when Colin Greening was in front to clean up a rebound. William Nylander and Morgan Rielly assisted.
Nazem Kadri got rough with Glendening at 7:23 and Glendening had to go to the dressing room with trainer Piet Van Zant.
Less than a minute later, Green was called for hooking.
Glendening was fine and able to return for the penalty kill.
Alexey Marchenko saved a goal when he cleared a rebound away at 10:13.
At 12:24, Ericsson was called for holding and the Leafs had another power play.
Kadri had a good chance going to the net but Howard made the save.
The Wings had three shots on a late power play but could not convert.
RED WINGS 2, MAPLE LEAFS 1
SCORING: 1. TOR, Colin Greening (4), William Nylander, Morgan Rielly, 2:44.
PENALTIES: 1. TOR, minor, Nazem Kadri, cross-checking, 7:23. 2. DET, minor, Mike Green, hooking, 8:21. 3. DET, minor, Jonathan Ericsson, holding, 12:24. 4. TOR, minor, T.J. Brennan, tripping, 17:33.
SHOTS: Detroit 10 (22), Toronto 13 (21).
The Leafs came out shooting again but if was the Wings who managed to score in the early part of the period.
Defenseman Kyle Quincey's shot beat Sparks at 3:59.
Helm and Richards picked up the assists.
It's Quincey's first goal since Feb. 6 against the New York Islanders and first point since an assist Feb. 18 at the Pittsburgh Penguins, snapping a 26-game goal drought and 20-game point drought.
Nyquist went off for tripping at 12:24, giving the Leafs another chance to get closer, but the Wings killed it off.
The Leafs pulled Sparks and scored with 1:07 left in the game. Nylander from Kadri and Boyes.
RED WINGS 3, MAPLE LEAFS 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Kyle Quincey (3), Darren Helm, Brad Richards, 3:59.
PENALTIES: 1. TOR, minor, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, slashing, 6:21. 2, DET, minor, Jonathan Ericsson, cross-checking, 6:21.
SHOTS: Detroit 4 (26), Toronto 13 (34).
Blashill insists the Wings have seven solid defensemen on the roster and each goes through an evaluation before a decision is made on which six will play the next game.
“I don’t know that it’s only a decision between those two,” said Blashill, when asked why Marchenko would play instead of Smith against the Minnesota Wild tonight. “It doesn’t mean that we don’t consider all seven of them and look at and say who is gonna be in the lineup and who’s not. … We have seven guys who have proven to be good NHL defensemen throughout their careers but I think each seven can also play better and we’re gonna need to play better tonight to make sure we put ourselves in a position to win a hockey game.”
A chief concern among the players lately has been the drop off in communication among teammates on the ice, which has lead to turnovers and scoring chances against.
“It’s critical, it’s something that (Chris Chelios) has been talking about since day one here,” Blashill said. “He’s been a believer that, in general, guys can talk a lot more. Certainly it’s something that we’ve re-emphasized here lately. I think it’s been much better; I can hear it in practice. But I think it’s hard to always have your head up and see the whole ice, so that’s where talking can help you see the ice. So that’s the biggest thing with that.”
The Wings will need to cut down on the turnovers against the Wild, who have points in eight of the past 10 games, and are five points ahead of Colorado for the final wild car spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
With five games remaining, it seems more likely that the Red Wings (87 points) can pass the Boston Bruins (88 points) for third place in the Atlantic Division before they’ll trump Philadelphia (89 points) for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference.
For a power play that has underperformed for much of the season, the Wild certainly didn’t want to give the Red Wings too many chances to get their offense revved up.
But they did … and the Red Wings took advantage of it.
Dylan Larkin’s 23nd goal of the season extended the Wings’ power play streak to seven straight games with at least one goal with the man advantage.
Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg assisted on the goal scored at 12:52. With his goal, Larkin moves into 12th place on the team’s all-time rookie scoring list with 45 points.
Earlier in the period, a giveaway by Mike Green deep in the Red Wings’ zone created an ideal scoring chance for Jarret Stoll at 5:41 of the period. But the Wild center missed scoring the game’s first goal by a fraction of an inch when his snap shot struck the far post and stayed out of the net.
Jimmy Howard wasn’t challenged much in the period, though he did look shaky on a few of the shots that he had to handle.
Midway through the period Justin Abdelkader was involved in a scrum with Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter near the side of the Wild net. It appeared that Suter wrapped his gloved hand around Abdelkader’s face. The Wings’ forward immediately skated off to the dressing room. He did not return to the team bench for the rest of the period.
DETROIT 1, MINNESOTA 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Larkin PPG (Kronwall, Zetterberg), 12:52.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Quincey (holding), 6:08; 1. MIN, Stoll (slashing), 9:36; 3. MIN, Zucker (tripping), 12:04.
SHOTS: Detroit 11, Minnesota 5.
Abdelkader return for the start of the period.
Riley Sheahan, who got jobbed on a power-play goal in the first period, picked up an assist – his fifth point in the past five games – on Tomas Tatar’s sharp angle goal at 2:32. Gustav Nyquist also picked up an assist on the goal that put the Wings up 2-0.
The Wings nearly went up three goals but Luke Glendening’s shot struck the crossbar behind Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk at the six-minute mark.
Things got a little rough in the second half of the period after Abdelkader laid out Marco Scandella at the blue line. Defenseman Matt Dumba took exception and challenged Abdelkader by the Red Wings’ bench. Both players went to the bench box to serve two-minute minors.
The Wild picked up the pressure late and finally solved Howard when a point shot by Jonas Brodin, which may have been tipped by Zetterberg’s stick, beat the Wings’ netminder on the far stick side.
DETROIT 2, MINNESOTA 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Tatar (Nyquist, Sheahan), 2:32; 2. MIN, Brodin (Suter, Parise), 16:42.
PENALTIES: 1. MIN, Dumba (roughing), 11:05; 2. DET, Abdelkader (cross-checking), 11:05.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (19), Minnesota 12 (17).
Pavel Datsyuk left the game in the first minutes of the period. The Wings’ center headed to the dressing room under his own power after Wild forward Nino Niederreiter accidentally struck him above the shoulders. No penalty was called.
However, the Wings managed to score on the next shift when the Sheahan line produced again.
Sheahan got the goal when he wrapped the puck around Dubnyk’s outstretched right pad at 2:08. Jonathan Ericsson picked up the lone assist on the play.
Datsyuk missed nearly half the period and returned to the bench in time to witness the Wild’s second goal of the game that cut Detroit’s lead to 3-2. This time it was center Mikael Granland, from Suter and Zach Parise at 9:43.
The Wild lifted Dubnyk for an extra attacker at 18:38. But the Wings came up with a big defensive effort late to seal the win, including Danny DeKeyser, who had a huge clear from inside the blue paint.
DETROIT 3, MINNESOTA 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Sheahan (Ericsson), 2:08; 2. MIN, Granland (Suter, Parise), 9:43.
SHOTS: Detroit 10 (29), Minnesota 5 (22).