DETROIT – The Red Wings will be without Niklas Kronwall for 1-3 weeks after the veteran defenseman suffered a sprained knee during Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers.
However, because of the way Kronwall fall backward after collided with two teammates, a mystery remains. Nobody knows for sure which knee was injured, and the Red Wings wouldn’t reveal those details.
Asked if Kronwall hurt the same knee that he had arthroscopic surgery on in mid-January, Blashill would only say, “No, opposite.”
The 35-year-old Kronwall missed 15 games when one of his knees became problematic, though he said at the time the knee didn’t hamper his on-ice abilities.
“We'll probably give both of them a chance at different times,” Blashill said. “Smitty's had a little more opportunity this year. I think DeKeyser was sixth on our team, last year's team on PP minutes, so he obviously was a big factor in what was the second-ranked PP so he'll get some of those opportunities. He did last night. He'll probably start the game with the opportunities but Smith may get some as well."
Alexey Marchenko, who has been a healthy scratch in three of the past four games, will draw into the Wings’ lineup tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Though the Wings will make a decision later on whether or not to recall a defenseman from AHL Grand Rapids at some point.
“Marchie can step in and play great, there’s no question,” Blashill said. “He’s been a real good player for us for lots of this year. We’ve said before depth is a huge part of success and we’ll have to rely on that here again tonight.”
For the first time this season, Petr Mrazek will start consecutive games on back-to-back nights. He made 23 saves against the Rangers in piucking up his 26th win of the season on Saturday.
Blashill said a big factor in his decision to go with Mrazek again was that the weekend games were both home contests.
“Without travel it’s a way easier back to back,” Blashill said. “It’s different if you’re getting in at three in the morning. The game was earlier so the time period is much different. He wasn’t extraordinarily busy yesterday, the puck was in the other end of lots of the game. Not that he didn’t have to make saves, but it’s not a tiresome-type game. I’ve got great confidence, he’s starting to get on a little bit of a roll. Let’s put him back in and see how he does today.”
Toronto has posted a 1-12-7 record against Atlantic Division rivals this season. The Leafs lone divisional win came against the Boston Bruins, in overtime, on Feb. 2.
Heading into Sunday’s tilt with the Maple Leafs, the Red Wings were already game planning without Kronwall on the back end. But they swiftly had to plug in a void on the forward line when Darren Helm fell ill and was unable to take pregame warmups at Joe Louis Arena.
Helm, who scored twice against the Rangers, was replaced by Tomas Jurco, who was slotted on the fourth line with center Luke Glendening and forward Teemu Pulkkinen.
The Leafs had a few scoring chances and one goal disallowed during the period.
Toronto rookie William Nylander had the first chance when he had the Wings’ Petr Mrazek dead to rights but missed an open net firing a shot between the goalie and the far goal post early in the period.
A few shifts later, Nazem Kardi was stoned by Mrazek on a breakaway, which was then followed by the Wings’ best chance of the period. At the other end, Tomas Tatar slid a shot underneath Jonathan Bernier only to be kept out of the net by defenseman Martin Marincin, who swept the puck back under the Leafs’ goalie.
The Leafs’s Ben Smith had a goal disallowed when referee Gord Dwyer determined it was directed in off the forward’s left shoulder by a distinct pushing motion. The play was reviewed in Toronto, where Dwyer’s call was reaffirmed.
The league released the following statement on the review:
At 12:58 of the first period in the Maple Leafs/Red Wings game, video review supported the referee's call on the ice that Toronto's Ben Smith batted the puck into the Detroit net with his shoulder. According to Rule 78.5 (i) "Apparent goals shall be disallowed when the puck has been directed, batted or thrown into the net by an attacking player other than with a stick." No goal Toronto.
Pavel Datsyuk left the game with a few minutes left in the period after he was roughed up in the corner by Leafs center Leo Komarov, and stepped on by Kadri, who's skate appeared to go into the back of Datsyuk's left knee.
DETROIT 0, TORONTO 0
SHOTS: Detroit 9, Toronto 12.
The Red Wings tied the Leafs in disallowed goals in the game though referee Marc Joannete initially signaled a Detroit goal. However, a review of the goal determined that the puck was directed into the net by Glendening’s pushing motion with his hand.
Detroit’s public-relations staff announced that Datsyuk suffered an upper-body injury and his return to the game was questionable. Well, the Wings’ Magic Man did return when with 8:32 left in the period he was back on the ice during a TV timeout, but Kyle Quincey’s interference penalty kept him on the bench for a few more minutes. Datsyuk finally skated his first shift of the second period with 4:59 left.
With 29.5 seconds left, the Leafs scored on a controversial play. Michael Grabner, who had gone 30 games without a goal was awarded his first goal since Jan. 2. At first, the on-ice officials signed a penalty shot for Grabner who was taken down from behind by DeKeyser as he skated in alone on Mrazek. The puck still went into the back of the net.
For the third time in the night, a play was send to Toronto for review, and it was determined to be a good goal for the Leafs.
The league released the following statement on the review:
At 19:30 of the second period in the Maple Leafs/Red Wings game, video review determined that the puck entered the Detroit net in a legal fashion prior to the net being displaced. According to Rule 78.4 "The goal frame shall be considered in its proper position when at least a portion of the flexible peg(s) are still inside both the goal post and the hole in the ice." Good goal Toronto.
TORONTO 1, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. TOR, Grabner (Parenteau), 19:30.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Abdelkader (tripping), 0:28; 2. TOR, Carrick (interference), 5:13; 3. DET, Quincey (tripping), 11:36; 4. TOR, Parenteau (holding the stick), 17:08.
SHOTS: Detroit 11 (20), Toronto 7 (19).
With about eight minutes to go, the Red Wings made a bid to tie the score when Brendan Smith buzzed the net before finding Mike Green open in the slot. But he couldn’t handle the puck cleanly to get off a shot in time to beat Bernier who had fallen and was out of position.
The Red Wings lifted Mrazek with an extra attacker with 1:40 left on the game clock.
Detroit used five forward with Green as the lone defenseman but the Leafs managed to ice the puck, and with 44 seconds left the Wings called a timeout.
Bernier’s 38-save shutout marks just the second time the Leafs have blanked the Red Wings in nearly 30 years. Curtis Joseph made 29 stops in a 3-0 win at Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 6, 2000 to record the only other Leafs’ shutout since Nov. 1986.
TORONTO 1, DETROIT 0
PENALTIES: 1. TOR, Holland (hooking), 6:49.
SHOTS: Detroit 18 (38), Toronto 8 (27).
|Henrik Zetterberg celebrates a first-period goal against the Jets scored by Pavel Datsyuk at JLA on Nov. 12, 2013. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)|
DETROIT – Tonight marks the 20th time that the Red Wings will face-off against the Jets’ franchise.
The Jets, whose franchise began as the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999, moved to Manitoba in 2011.
Against the Jets, the Red Wings hold a 2-2-2 overall record with a 1-0-2 mark at Joe Louis Arena
The Wings are trying to avoid a fourth straight regulation loss, which would be the longest such streak of the season.
The Jets enter tonight’s game firmly entangled with Edmonton for last place with 59 points in the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, Detroit is holding on to the second wild card in the Eastern Conference with 75 points but they better start earning some points because Philadelphia (73 points) and Carolina (71 points) are creeping up the rear.
But with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk on the ice, don’t expect the Jets and their coach Paul Maurice to take the Red Wings’ lightly. Both Wings' veterans have produced 19 points each in 14 career games against the Jets/Thrashers.
“Things haven’t gone the way they wanted to in the last three and that playoff picture tightens up,” Maurice said. “Then you’ve got two of the finest leaders in sports sitting in that locker room, so you know they’re coming tonight. They know they have to win. On their calendar, this is a must win game for them, which at times you can probably look to using that to your advantage. But I’m not sure with Zetterberg and Datsyuk having final say before they go out on the ice that there’s going to be much of an
According to the Jets’ media notes, the Red Wings asked to wear their white road jerseys for tonight’s game, and the Jets, who are on a one-game road, agreed to bring their blue home jerseys to Detroit. It will be the first time the Jets will ever wear their home jerseys for a road game.
It’s the sixth time this season that the Wings have gone all reversed jersey night, reversing sweaters against the Seantors (Oct. 30), Sabres (Dec. 14) and Pittsburgh (Dec. 31) at Joe Louis Arena, and at Ottawa's Canadian Tire Centre (Oct. 31) and Buffalo’s First Niagara Center (Jan. 22).
Detroit is 2-3-0 when its worn reversed sweaters this season.
The Wings’ power play had two early chances but had nothing to show for it other than six shots on goal – all stopped by Winnipeg goalie Michael Hutchinson – and a two-goal deficit heading into the second period.
After looking out of sync on their first power play opportunity, the Wings kicked things up a notch when Mark Scheifele was called for holding at 6:02. Gustav Nyquist had three of the Wings’ six shots on their second man advantage. Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Richards and Darren Helm had the other shots in the two-minute span.
The best chance came when Richards fired a low shot from the right circle that was tipped by Jacob Trouba but didn’t fool Hutchinson, who covered up for a faceoff with 12:45 left in the period.
Later on, with Jonathan Ericsson in the penalty box, the Jets caught the Wings on a line change that set Drew Stafford in along on Petr Mrazek. But the Wings’ goalie was helped out by the Jets’ forward who fell as he hit the brakes and lost control of the puck in front of the crease.
The Jets did break through late in the period, getting goals by center Marko Dano and defenseman Tyler Myers.
For Dano, it was his first goal since he was acquired from Chicago in exchange for Andrew Ladd.
Detroit had just four shots on goal in the final 12:01 of the period.
WINNIPEG 2, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. WPG, Dano (Perreault, Burmistrov), 11:23; 2. WPG, Myers (Scheifele), 16:31.
PENALTIES: 1. WPG, Wheeler (cross checking), 3:19; 2. WPG, Scheifele (holding), 6:02; 3. DET, Ericsson (hooking), 9:11; 4. WPG, Thorburn (slashing), 15:19; 5. DET, Glendening (slashing), 15:19.
SHOTS: Detroit 12, Winnipeg 10.
Far better puck possession in this period than the first frame allowed the Wings to claw back into the game with goals by Dylan Larkin and Ericsson.
Larkin made history with his even-strength tally at 6:40. The 19-year-old became the first Red Wings’ rookie to reach the 20-goal milestone since Henrik Zetterberg – who picked up a secondary assist on the goal – potted 20 in 2002-03.
Only 14 other Wings have touched 20 or more goals in their rookie campaigns. They are Steve Yzerman (39), Mike Foligno (36), Dale McCourt (33), Michel Bergeron (32), Petr Klima (32), Sergei Fedorov (31), Tom Webster (30), Marcel Dionne (28), Mark Osborne (26), Jim McFadden (24), Kelly Kisio (23), Shawn Burr (22), Murray Oliver (20) and Lane Lambert (20).
Ericsson’s goal, which skipped behind Hutchinson off the left skate of Jets defenseman Paul Postma, was the first goal scored by a Detroit D-man since Danny DeKeyser’s winner in the wild 6-5 win over Boston on Valentine’s Day.
DETROIT 2, WINNIPEG 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Larkin (Abdelkader, Zetterberg), 6:40; 2. DET, Ericsson (Kronwall, Helm), 12:25.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Nyquist (holding), 2:13; 2. WPG, Thorburn (roughing), 9:27; 3. DET, Abdelkader (roughing), 9:27.
SHOTS: Detroit 13 (25), Winnipeg 6 (16).
Each team had a power play chance to grab a lead but neither managed to convert.
But the Red Wings finally took their first lead of the night when they capitalized on a turnover deep in the Jets zone. Justin Abdelkader was the recipient of a beautiful pass into the slot from Tomas Tatar, who picked off a Myers’ pass behind the Jets’ net.
Abdelkader then picked the top shelf over Hutchinson’s right shoulder for the eventual game winner, his fourth of the season.
Moments later, Abdelkader made his physicality known to the Jets when he pounded forward Scott Kosmachuk into the half wall. The Jets didn’t take kindly to the hit and Adam Lowry was send to the dressing room with a 10-minute misconduct.
The win gives the Wings 77 points and a four-point cushion for the Eastern Conference’s second wild card spot over idle Philadelphia, who plays at Tampa Bay Friday night.
DETROIT 3, WINNIPEG 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Abdelkader (Tatar), 15:24.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Kronwall (tripping), 4:16; 2. WPG, Thorburn (holding), 10:09; 3. WPG, Lowry (10-minute misconduct), 17:31; 4. DET, Zetterberg (slashing), 18:15.
SHOTS: Detroit 10 (35), Winnipeg 9 (25).
NEW YORK – It’s Hockey Day in America and the Red Wings are playing in the greatest arena in the world tonight.
There are 11 American players suited up for this game, the first meeting of the season for the Original Six rivals. The U.S.-born Red Wings are Justin Abdelkader, Luke Glendening, Danny DeKeyser, Dylan Larkin and Jimmy Howard.
The Wings have lost five straight road decisions now for the first time since they dropped seven straight (0-5-2) in March 2012.
As a result of Pittsburgh’s 4-3 win at Buffalo this afternoon, Detroit begins the evening in the second wild card position with 68 points in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay also started the day with 68 points, but is in third place in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning plays at Carolina tonight.
Two nights in a row Abdelkader has accounted for the Red Wings’ first shot on goal, though he probably wishes they were a little sooner in the game.
For the second straight night the Wings have gone more than 6 ½ minutes before registering a shot. On Saturday, Abdelkader’s 75-footer from the neutral zone was the first shot on Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson.
Tonight, the Rangers had seven shots on Howard before Abdelkader’s 51-foot wrist shot was stopped by Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist at 7:51 of the opening period.
The Wings turned things around in the second half of the period, out-shooting the Rangers, 9-5.
Howard had to be sharp on a couple of occasions, especially in the finals minutes when J.T. Miler tried scoring on a wrap-around attempt.
DETROIT 0, NY RANGERS 0
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Ouellet (tripping), 1:11; 2. NYR , Yandle (hooking), 4:48.
SHOTS: Detroit 10, New York 12.
The period got a little chippy early when Darren Helm caught the Rangers’ Miller up high with a hit in the neutral zone with 16:35 left on the clock. The hit left Miller in a heap at center ice. Miller went after Helm, but the only result was a holding penalty assessed to Derick Brassard.
The Wings had an awesome scoring chance created by the speed of Andreas Athanasiou, but Lundqvist made the save and stopped Teemu Pulkkinen’s second-chance opportunity on the rebound.
With roughly nine periods left, Henrik Zetterberg may have been the closest to breaking the scoreless deadlock when his shot hit the left post.
Moments after Zetterberg’s near goal, the Rangers came close to getting the game’s first goal when Chris Kreider was left along in front of Howard. But the Wings’ netminder came up with a big save.
New York had two power play chances when Kyle Quincey picked up a pair of tripping penalties in the period. The Rangers mustered a total of four shots during the two separate man advantages, but Howard stopped them all.
DETROIT 0, NY RANGERS 0
PENALTIES: 1. NYR, Brassard (holding), 3:31; 2. DET, Quincey (tripping), 7:34; 3. DET, Quincey (tripping), 12:37.
SHOTS: Detroit 7 (17), New York 9 (21).
The Rangers had a goal disallowed and didn’t connect on a penalty shot in the final period of regulation.
Howard was outstanding as he was called upon throughout the period to make one heady save after another. The first came early in the frame after Viktor Stalberg raced into the zone and set up Oscar Lindberg, who was streaking down the slot. Howard stood big in the crease to make a save on Lindberg’s redirection.
A few minutes later a scramble in front of the Wings’ crease resulted in a controversial goal by the Rangers. Lindberg tripped over Howard’s stick and as the Rangers’ center fell forward his left skate kicked Howard in the head as Kevin Hayes fired a shot from a bad angle that went in off the goalie’s arm.
As the Madison Square Garden faithful cheered, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill challenged the validity of the goal. The play was reviewed in Toronto and overturned.
With 5:25 left, the Rangers were given a penalty shot when Jesper Fast was taken down by Mike Green. Howard, who has played perhaps his best game of the season made an outstanding blocker save on Fast.
Howard made another spectacular save after the Wings made turnover deep in their zone. DeKeyser fell giving the Rangers a 3 on 1 against Howard. Fast set up near the left post and one-timed a pass but the goalie slid across the crease in time to make the save.
DETROIT 0, NY RANGERS 0
PENALTIES: 1. NYR, Glass (hooking), 2:49; 2. DET, DeKeyser (interference), 7:27; 3. DET, Glendening (high-sticking), 8:02; 4. NYR, Yandle (interference), 8:02; 5. NYR, Girardi (elbowing), 10:10.
SHOTS: Detroit 3 (20), New York 7 (28).
Gustav Nyquist nearly won it for the Wings with a shot that slipped behind Lundqvist, who for a moment lost sight of the puck. Kreider scoped the puck out of the crease and started the Rangers’ rush which ended with Kevin Klein’s goal at 1:59.
Hayes slid a backhand pass over Brendan Smith’s stick, which sent Klein in a lone down the slot and the Rangers’ defenseman fired a shot behind Howard.
The Wings are the last team to suffer a shutout loss this season.
NY RANGERS 1, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. NYR, Klein (Hayes, Kreider), 1:59.
SHOTS: Detroit 2 (22), New York 2 (30).
KANATA, Ontario – The Red Wings look to snap a four-game road losing streak tonight when they faceoff against their Atlantic Division rival Ottawa Senators.
Tonight is the fifth and final meeting in the clubs’ season series with the Red Wings posting a 3-1-0 record over the Senators.
Dylan Larkin, who fell ill earlier in the day and did not join the team in their morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre, will not play tonight. The Wings had hoped he might be able to go, but he still wasn’t feeling good and didn’t participate in the team’s pre-game warmups.
Larkin’s absence opens the way for Teemu Pulkkinen to draw into the lineup for the first time in the past eight games.
With Tampa Bay’s 4-2 win this afternoon at Pittsburgh, the Wings are desperate for two points as they begin the night in the top wild card spot with 67 points in the Eastern Conference. Detroit trails Tampa Bay and Boston by one point in the standings.
But coach Jeff Blashill said the team isn’t concentrating so much on the standings as they are about playing right.
“(Our) focus is making sure we play good hockey and that we’re giving ourselves the best chance to win every night,” he said. “You can play great and not win. We have a great opponent tonight, every night is a great opponent. That’s just how close the league is. But we got to concentrate and do the things it takes from a process standpoint to make sure we’re doing our best. Secondly, we judge ourselves on our own segments and where we’re at in the segments, both cumulatively and where we’re at in that segment. And third, I see the standings, I’m not blind to that. I just think you got to control what you control and that’s your own play.”
Shots: 94 | +/-: -16
Blashill said he likes the identity of the trio – all three are natural centers.
“That’s what I was trying to create when I put that line together,” Blashill said. “We had played Tampa and I saw the line with (Valtteri) Filppula and thought they had a real identity and I wanted to make sure we had that as well down the stretch. I think Sheahan and Helm and Glendening have done a real good job. They’re all good defensively, but I think their best defense is when they can grind in the O-zone and they’re real good at it – Sheahan, especially, he can really do a good job on cutbacks and creating possession time and chances as well. I think he’s found a good niche and I think he’s playing pretty good hockey.”
in terms of minutes played they certainly have a big role on our team – but I like the identity of that line. That’s what I was trying to create when I put that line together. We had played Tampa and I saw the line with Filppula and thought they had a real identity and I wanted to make sure we had that as well down the stretch. I think Sheahan and Helm and Glendening have done a real good job. They’re all good defensively, but I think their best defense is when they can grind in the O-zone and they’re real good at it – Sheahan, especially, he can really do a good job on cutbacks and creating possession time and chances as well. I think he’s found a good niche and I think he’s playing pretty good hockey.”
It took more than four minutes before either team registered a shot on goal. But the first one was a doozy.
Senators defenseman Patrick Wiercioch fired a rocket from the blue line that struck Petr Mrazek in helmet. The play was stopped as the Red Wings’ goalie stayed down until trainer Piet Van Zant rushed on to the ice to check on him. Mrazek stayed in though.
Gustav Nyquist was called for slashing defenseman Dion Phaneuf near the Wings’ crease. While Nyquit was in the box Bobby Ryan came close to scoring what would have been one of the top highlight reel goals of the season.
The Sens’ forward backed his way toward the crease where put his stick between his legs and managed to get off a shot from in close. Fortunately, the puck hit Mrazek in the pads.
After that the period was pretty much uninspiring with not a lot of scoring chances for either team.
DETROIT 0, OTTAWA 0
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Nyquist (slashing), 4:33.
SHOTS: Detroit 9, Ottawa 6.
The period started with three on-ice officials instead of the traditional four man crew.
The league sent out the following post in an email:
Referee Tom Kowal is being evaluated by medical personnel therefore the Red Wings/Senators game will continue with one referee and two linesmen.
The game continued with referee Trevor Hanson and linesmen Matt MacPherson and Steve Barton.
The Wings capitalized on a giveaway deep in the Senators zone. Nyquist forced all-star defenseman Erik Karlsson into coughing up the puck into the slot where Andreas Athanasiou wound up and rocketed a shot into the back of the net.
The goal was Athansiou's second of his career and his first since he was recalled from AHL Grand Rapids on Feb. 5.
It took the Senators exactly one minute to get their own break when Brendan Smith snapped his stick while trying to make a cleaning pass from the Wings’ zone. Nick Paul was the recipient of Smith’s second broken stick of the game. It was the first career goal for the Sens’ rookie.
Smith has had bad luck with sticks while in Ottawa these last two days, breaking four of them, including two in Friday afternoon’s practice.
Karlsson’s tough night got worse late in the period when he redirected Brad Richards’ shot past goalie Craig Anderson, giving the Wings a 2-1 lead.
DETROIT 2, OTTAWA 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Athanasiou (unassisted), 10:46; 2. OTT, Smith (Pageau), 11:46; 3. DET, Richards (unassisted), 17:52.
PENALTIES: 1. OTT, Paul (slashing), 2:59; 2. DET, Glendening (holding), 12:08; 3. DET, Helm (roughing), 16:59; 4. OTT, Turris (roughing), 16:59.
SHOTS: Detroit 7 (16), Ottawa 10 (16).
Justin Abdelkader exchanged jabs at center ice with Chris Neil after the Sens’ enforcer hit Pavel Datsyuk. The pair appeared headed for a fight before cooler heads prevailed as both skated to their respective benches. The pleasantries continued as the two jawed at one another from the end of the benches with Gary Galley, the TSN analyst, caught in the middle of the barbs.
For Mrazek, this was a quality effort after giving up 10 goals on 54 shots in his previous two starts. Other than the second-period, which wasn’t solely his fault, he was spectacular in making 22 saves.
Phaneuf scored his first goal in six games since joining the Senators in a trade from Toronto. It appeared that Mrazek never saw the shot from the defenseman at the left point as he was being screened in front by Sens’ forward Mark Stone and Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser.
DETROIT 2, OTTAWA 2
SCORING: 1. OTT, Phaneuf (unassisted), 16:09.
PENALTIES: 1. OTT, Stone (slashing), 6:14.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (24), Ottawa 8 (24).
Bobby Ryan, at the end of shift, had the best scoring chance midway through the overtime period. After Cody Ceci blocked Tomas Tatar’s shot sending the puck into the neutral zone, Ryan was off, trudging toward the Wings’ net. The Sens’ forward made a series of moves but was denied by Mrazek, who made the splits on a remarkable pad save.
DETROIT 2, OTTAWA 2
SHOTS: Detroit 6 (30), Ottawa 2 (26).
OTTAWA 3, DETROIT 2
OTT, Ryan, NO GOAL (lost puck)
DET, Nyquist, NO GOAL (right pad save)
OTT, Turris, GOAL (five hole)
DET, Richards, NO GOAL (glove save)
OTT, Zibanejad, NO GOAL (right goal post)
DET, Datsyuk, NO GOAL (pad save)
PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby said Thursday that sluggish starts were to blame for the Pittsburgh Penguins rough patch earlier this season.
But since overcoming a two-goal deficit in Detroit on Dec. 31, the Penguins have been cooking, going 11-4-4 as they prepare for their New Year’s Eve rematch against the Red Wings tonight at Consol Energy Center.
“I think you build confidence from games like that,” the Penguins’ captain said. “Since then we’ve been in some tough situations going into the third, down some goals, and climbed back. So you need to go through those sorts of things to build confidence. … Yeah, it was a big win for us at that point.”
Prior to their 5-2 comeback win at Joe Louis Arena, the Penguins had struggled through a 5-8-4 stretch.
“I think our starts were kind of slow there for probably a good couple of weeks,” Crosby said. “Our start wasn’t good again in that game. That’s an area we’ve tried to improve on since but I think at this point the desperation level should be much higher for both teams with how close everything is in the standings. … But, yeah, looking back, that was a good game for us.”
Meanwhile, the Red Wings need points as they begin a stretch of three road games over the next four days.
“It’s a big game for us today,” Wings forward Gustav Nyquist said. “Both teams need these two points, so it’s gonna be a good match up. … We have an intense road trip here. Three games in four days, so for sure we want to get off to a good start here. That would be key for us.”
Tonight’s game is the second of three meetings this season between clubs with a playoff history having faced in the Stanley Cup finals in back-to-back years.
Detroit currently sits in third place in the Atlantic Division. Pittsburgh clings to the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but is also in the thick of the Metropolitan Division race.
“We got a great amount of respect for their team, the players on their team and what this organization has done in their history,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill sid. “That only helps get everybody invigorated and ready to play. We understand what’s at stake here. Two huge points we’re both fighting for and we both need. So I think it should make for a real good game. We need to make sure we come out and play at a real high level to give ourselves a real good chance.”
PLAYER TO WATCH TONIGHT: Pavel Datsyuk has points in six straight games with six goals and four assists in that span. The 37-year-old center seems to have found a higher gear since he was reunited with Henrik Zetterberg on the Wings’ top forward line.
Certainly, Datsyuk’s productivity isn’t lost on Crosby, who himself has 53 points in 54 games.
“No matter how old he is he’s always going to have those hands, he’s always going to have that vision,” Crosby said. “I really don’t think it matters how old he is. The way he sees the game, the way he anticipates, yeah, I think he’s gonna be somebody that you always have to be aware of no matter how old he is.”
Fast and furious is how this one started with an incredible pace for both teams Thursday night.
The Wings and Penguins even went 5 ½ minutes between whistles, until Petr Mrazek covered up on a 58-foot shot from Olli Maatta to get a faceoff deep in the Red Wings’ zone.
Two minutes later the Pens had themselves a 1-0 lead when Darren Helm inadvertently redirected Ben Lovejoy’s 53-foot wrist shot behind Mrazek. It appeared Lovejoy was just trying to get a shot on net when his shot struck Helm’s stick in front of the crease.
The Wings got the equalizer when the third line connected on a rush that was capped by Tomas Jurco’s fourth goal of the season. Nyquist set up the scoring play when he slid a centering pass to Jurco in the slot. Using a Pittsburgh defender as a screen, Jurco blistered a shot stick side on Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Pens regained their one-goal lead when Matt Cullen, who assisted on Lovejoy’s goal, slammed a rebound into the open net off Mrazek’s right pad.
Pittsburgh finished the period on the power play when Kyle Quincey was called for roughing Crosby behind the Wings net.
The Pens will begin the second period with 44 seconds left on the man advantage.
PITTSBURGH 2, DETROIT 1
SCORING: 1. PIT, Lovejoy (Hornqvist, Cullen), 9:56; 2. DET, Jurco (Nyquist, Athanasiou), 13:40; 3. PIT, Cullen (Daley, Hornqvist), 16:47.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Quincey (roughing), 1844.
SHOTS: Detroit 10, Pittsburgh 14.
Dylan Larkin pulled the Wings even again, scoring for the first time in six games. Larkin swooped in as Quincey battled a Pens’ defender for the puck in front of Fleury. The rookie swiped the puck before shoveling a backhander to Fleury’s glove side.
The goal gives Larkin 39 points, tying him with for 15th on the Red Wings’ all-time scoring list with Steve Wojciechowski (1944-45) and Murray Oliver (1959-60).
Unfortunately, the Pens roared back 24 seconds after the Wings’ tying tally when their top line of Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Phil Kessel collaborated on their third go-ahead goal of the game. Kessel, the former Maple Leaf, was credited with his 17th goal of the season, giving Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead.
With 5 minutes left in the period, the Wings had a goal waved off. Somehow, as Fleury was being bowled into the net by Justin Abdelkader, the Pens’ netminder managed to keep the puck from crossing the goal line with the paddle of his stick. The play was reviewed, but referee Kelly Sutherland affirmed the original call.
Pittsburgh built its first two-goal lead of the night when rookie Scott Wilson scored his first NHL goal from the bottom of the left faceoff circle. The Oakville, Ontaario, native took a pass from Conor Sheary in the near corner before sending a one-timer that beat Mrazek.
PITTSBURGH 4, DETROIT 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Larkin (Glendening, Quincey), 2:19; 2. PIT, Kessel (Crosby, Kunitz), 2:43; 3. PIT, Wilson (Sheary), 16:46.
SHOTS: Detroit 11 (21), Pittsburgh 13 (27).
The Penguins scored another rebound goal, this one by Kessel, who collected his second goal of the night for his fourth multi-goal game of the season.
Kessel’s goal ended Mrazek’s night at 6:26 of the period. The Wings starter made 27 saves on 32 shots before he was lifted for Jimmy Howard.
It was the first time Mrazek – who has been a remarkable side story for the Wings this season – was been pulled in 37 straight starts.
The Wings got one back when Henrik Zetterberg scored on a pretty play made possible by Datsyuk, who stretched his consecutive point streak to seven straight games. Datsyuk split the defense at center ice to gain the offensive zone. Justin Abdelkader made a quick pass across ice to Zetterberg, who corralled the puck with the toe of the stick blade before lifting a backhander over Fleury.
Howard was lifted for an extra skater with 3:57 left in the period. The move paid off for the Wings, as they managed to draw a tripping call on Detroit-area native Bryan Rust, who went to the penalty box with 3:23 left.
The Wings were unable to capitalize on their only power play of the game, and Crosby capped the scoring with an empty-net goal at 19:12.
The Wings have lost four straight road games now for the first time since March 2014 when they lost in regulation at New Jersey, New York Rangers, Columbus and Chicago.
PITTSBURGH 6, DETROIT 3
SCORING: 1. PIT, Kessel (Maatta), 6:26; 2. DET, Zetterberg (Abdelkader, Datsyuk), 11:13; 3. PIT, Crosby EN (unassisted), 19:12.
PENALTIES: 1. PIT, Rust (tripping), 16:37.
SHOTS: Detroit 16 (38), Pittsburgh 9 (37).
NEW YORK – The city that never sleeps certainly tried its darnedest to make sure the Red Wings didn’t get any shuteye last night.
From a room-key problem for some players to a fire alarm at 3:12 a.m. it was a somewhat restless night for the Red Wings who arrived in Brooklyn shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday.
As for the room keys that weren’t probably programmed, Gustav Nyquist said it could have been a lot worse.
Most everyone associated with the team was awakened by the early-morning alarm, though Tomas Tatar admitted to sleeping through it.
“But I don’t know if that’s a good thing,” the Wings’ forward said.
The Red Wings finished a five-game homestand with a 4-0-1 record capped by a 6-5 win over the Boston Bruins on Sunday. They will go with Jimmy Howard, who draws his 21st start of the season.
Since recording his last win (Dec. 3 vs. Arizona), Howard is winless in his last eight starts and compiled a 0-4-3 record.
But the past doesn’t bother Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, who has confidence in both of his goaltenders.
“He doesn’t have to worry about what’s happened until this point,” Blashill said. “Let’s worry about tonight’s game, that’s the number one thing. Let’s continue to look ahead, let’s have a next-shot mentality. After each shot let’s not worry about whether it was a big save or whether they hit the post or it went in. Let’s worry about the next one. I think he’s done a good job with that. He’s in a good spot, mentally, to be honest with you. He’s really, really put in extra time with (goaltending coach) Jimmy Bedard, so I think he’s prepared here tonight and now he’s gotta go execute.”
Howard was sharp when called upon early in the period as Islanders center John Tavares raced in alone on a breakaway after picking Danny DeKeyser’s pocket in the neutral zone. Tavares tried to beat Howard to the far side, but the veteran goalie made a blocker save.
The Wings’ power play, which is 4-of-16 in the past four games, went to work when Tavares was called for tripping his childhood friend and former youth hockey teammates, Brendan Smith. While the Wings managed to maintain a fair amount of puck possession during the man advantage they only got one shot, by Dylan Larkin, on Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss.
Nyquist gave the Wings their best scoring chance of the period. The forward danced around a New York defender to create space for himself in the slot before wiring a wrist shot that beat Greiss but hit the left post.
The Islanders had a turn on the power play late in the period when Henrik Zetterberg was sent off for tripping Frans Nielsen at 16:54. But as they have done so well of late, the Wings were solid defensively in front of their goalie, blocking two shots – one each by Smith and Kyle Quincey – to kill off the Islanders’ advantage.
DETROIT 0, NY ISLANDERS 0
PENALTIES: 1. NYI, Tavares (tripping), 7:41; 2. DET, Zetterberg (tripping), 16:54.
SHOTS: Detroit 8, NY Islanders 8.
The Islanders turned up the pressure in the first half of the period, peppering Howard with as many shots in the first 10 minutes as they did the entire first period.
Howard stopped all but one – the eighth – on a fluky play. Heading toward the Brock Nelson knocked a pass out of the air before sweeping it behind Howard to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.
The Islanders are an earlier chance to break the scoreless tie, but Howard left Tavares shaking his head during New York’s first power play of the period. After the Isles’ captain split Alexey Marchenko and Luke Glendening, he coasted in front the left wing. But again, Howard was on the spot to make a stop, this time on Tavares’ backhand from in front of the crease.
The Islanders’ power play went to work again when Pavel Datsyuk was assessed just his third minor penalty of the season. The Wings’ center was called for delay of game when his clearing attempted went into the stands.
Unfortunately, the Isles built a two-goal lead with Datsyuk in the box when Josh Bailey scored off of a rebound.
New York went up 3-0 when former Wings defenseman Marek Zidlicky scored for the fourth time this season.
NY ISLANDERS 3, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. NYI, Nelson (Strome, Boychuk) 8:24; 2. NYI, Bailey PPG (Boychuk, Nelson), 14:57; 3. NYI, Zidlicky (Cutterbuck, Cizikas), 16:03.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Helm (holding) 5:53; 2. DET, Datsyuk (delay of game), 13:19; 3. NYI, Strome (hooking), 16:24; 4. NYI, Hickey (slashing), 19:01.
SHOTS: Detroit 11 (19), NY Islanders 16 (24).
During an afternoon without much to celebrate, the Wings did have one bright spot, which occurred in the third period.
Datysuk ruined Greiss’s bid for a shutout while extending his point streak to six straight games with his 12th goal of the season. The rebound goal, from Nyquist’s original shot, gives the Russian center 310 goals for his career, breaking a tie with Brendan Shanahan for seventh all time in franchise history.
Only Gordie Howe (786), Steve Yzerman (692), Alex Delvecchio (456), Sergei Fedorov (400), Ted Lindsay (335) and Norm Ullman (324) have more career goals than Datsyuk.
The loss is the Wings’ first in regulation this month when they lost 6-3 at Florida (Feb. 4).
NY ISLANDERS 4, DETROIT 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Datsyuk (Nyquist), 9:31; 2. NYI, Strome (Tavares, Leddy) 12:14.
PENALTIES: 1. NYI, Nelson (closing hand on puck), 6:19; 2. DET, Abdelkader (delay of game), 6:52; 3. DET, Tatar (holding), 13:17.
SHOTS: Detroit 10 (29), NY Islanders 8 (32).
DETROIT – It’s a rivalry that lives in those men who shed blood, and those who watched intently for seven years.
Now a distant memory, a game between the Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche today doesn’t come close to reaching the heightened intensity of the bloodiest rivalries in North American pro sports, from 1996-2002.
“Those were games that were sort of must-see TV just because you didn’t know what to expect or what was gonna happen,” Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader.
Tonight the Wings and Avs meet for just the first time this season. The two clubs will reunite in two weeks for the NHL Stadium Series game at Coors Field, the outdoor home of Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies.
“Only playing these guys twice, it’s a little different, but yeah, it’s weird we’re into mid-February and this is the first time we’ve played Colorado. That’s how it is though with the change of conferences and how it’s set up now. We get these guys twice here, so they’re big games, but obviously looking forward to that stadium series game.”
Since the 2002 Stanley Cup season, which basically marks the end of the seven-year rivalry, the Red Wings have posted a 31-9 record against Colorado, including a four-game sweep of the Western Conference semifinals in 2008.
Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey has seen both sides of the rivalry. Quincey played two-plus seasons for the Avs.
“Yeah, but it's nothing to where it was,” Quincey said. “It's cool to write off, but I'll be honest with you, there's really not much there anymore. I wish there was.”
The Avalanche capitalized on a turnover deep in the Red Wings’ zone. A pass from Andreas Athanasiou rimmed around the net and skipped over Quincey’s stick and onto the blade of Carl Soderberg.
The Avs’ center dished to Mikhail Grigorenko, who rushed toward the net before dropping a nifty back-hand pass to Matt Duchene for his team-leading 25th goal of the season.
Darren Helm had a solid period. The veteran forward finished with four of the team’s 13 first-period shots on goal. His season high is six shots, established in a 5-4 win over Buffalo on Dec. 1.
The Wings made a bid to tie the score late in the period, but Semyon Varlamov made a pair of big saves from just outside the blue paint in the waning seconds of the period. The first was a pad stop on Tomas Tatar’s one-timer which was set up by a pretty pass from below the goal line by Dylan Larkin. The next followed a face-off win by the Wings, denying a shot that Pavel Datsyuk usually scores on, but Varlamov kicked out his right leg to protect the Avs’ 1-0 lead.
COLORADO 1, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. COL, Duchene (Grigorenko, Soderberg), 9:27.
PENALTIES: 1. COL, Comeau (tripping), 12:36.
SHOTS: Detroit 13, Colorado 4.
The Red Wings spend most of the first 40 minutes with an obvious advantage in puck possession, but that didn’t necessarily equate to shots on goal.
The Avs, who lead the league in blocked shots, equaled their season average, blocking 17 shots in the first two periods.
Larkin had a scoring chance early in the period, but as he raced in front the left wing Avs defenseman Nick Holden harassed the rookie just enough to prevent a quality snipe.
The Wings got the equalizer on a seamlessly harmless play, but Jonathan Ericsson’s low shot from the point managed to get through Varlamov at 4:09. The goal was Ericsson’s second, but his first in 39 games, snapping the longest scoring drought by a Red Wings’ player this season.
The Wings’ defense continues to make a difference offensively. Detroit defensemen have now scored in 13 of the past 22 games. That’s a sharp improvement from earlier in the season when blue liners collected 10 goals in the first 33 games.
DETROIT 1, COLORADO 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Ericsson (Abdelkader, Marchenko), 4:09.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Sheahan (hooking), 12:42; 2. COL, Bigras (hooking), 16:51.
SHOTS: Detroit 14 (27), Colorado 7 (11).
The Avs retook a one-goal lead when Blake Comeau jumped off the bench to join the play in the Wings’ zone. Comeau beat two Wings’ defenders to the puck in the slot to score his ninth goal of the season.
The Wings pulled even on the team’s third power play chance of the game. With Abdelkader drawing the attention of Varlamov, it allowed Datsyuk to swoop in on a loose puck and lift a back-hander into the open side of the net. Henrik Zetterberg and Abdelkader picked up assists on the goal. Zetterberg is tied with Larkin for the team lead in points (38).
Datsyuk is now one point shy of 900 points in his career. He’ll become the six player in Red Wings’ history to reach the milestone, joining hall of famers Gordie Howe (1,809), Steve Yzerman (1,755), Alex Delvecchio (1,281), Nicklas Lidstrom (1,142) and Sergei Fedorov (954).
DETROIT 2, COLORADO 2
SCORING: 1. COL, Comeau (Barrie, Mitchell), 5:30; 2. DET, Datsyuk PPG (Abdelkader, Zetterberg), 9:51.
PENALTIES: 1. COL, Soderberg (slashing), 9:36; 2. COL, Tanguay (tripping), 10:03; 3. DET, Larkin (holding the stick), 11:47; 4. COL, Mitchell (tripping), 15:53.
SHOTS: Detroit 14 (41), Colorado 8 (19).
Larkin excited the crowd in the opening minute, getting off a high-rising shot on Varlamov, but the game remained tied.
The Wings continued with the pressure in the second minutes that the Avs were forced to ice the puck, and subsequently used a timeout with 2:59 remaining.
Out of the timeout, and the faceoff deep in the Avs’ zone, the Wings went with Larkin, Datsyuk and Danny DeKeyser.
The second next trio of Brendan Smith, Tatar and Gustav Nyquist nearly ended it, but Varlamov made an awesome save on Nyquist, who made a deke before going to the backhand.
Moments later, Tatar was called for holding, which gave the avs a 4-on-3 power play for the remaining 1:32 of overtime.
DETROIT 2, COLORADO 2
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Tatar (holding) 3:28.
SHOTS: Detroit 4 (45), Colorado 2 (21).
COLORADO 3, DETROIT 2
DET: Larkin, NO GOAL (glove save on backhand)
COL: Landeskog NO GOAL (left pad save)
DET: Datsyuk GOAL (forehand stick side)
COL: Duchene NO GOAL (forehand five hole)
DET: Richards NO GOAL (forehand, right pad save)
COL: MacKinnon GOAL (backhand stick side)
DET: Nyquist NO GOAL (glove save on forehand)
COL: Comeau GOAL (forehand glove side)
DETROIT – Tonight the Red Wings look to win for the third straight time at home, something they haven’t done in more than two months when they won four in a row at Joe Louis Arena.
So what’s going right for the Wings now?
“We've been playing a lot better on the road this year than we have been at home, we've been winning more games on the road,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We've been talking a little bit that we maybe want to do a little too much here at home, keep it a little more simple. When you do that and you score goals, it's a good thing.”
It’s just the fourth time this season the Red Wings have accumulated at least eight goals in a two-game span. The first was at the start of the season with 4-0 and 4-3 victories over Toronto and Carolina, respectively.
Detroit scored 15 goals, netting five each in consecutive home wins against Buffalo, Arizona and Nashville at the beginning of December.
Part of the recent of the Wings’ recent success can be attributed to the reunion of the Euro Twin, Zetterberg and Datsyuk. The pair is joined by forward Justin Abdelkader.
The move gives coach Jeff Blashill the ability to use Richards the way he envisioned when the Wings signed the veteran center in the off season.
“Dylan can self-generate, a lot of times regardless of who he’s playing with but it had more to do with my belief that Brad Richards is a second-line center, he did it last year on a Stanley Cup-winning team,” Blashill said. “With Hank and Pav it gives you a 1-2 punch up the middle that is a real important piece but we wanted to take a little bit of a chance like – in Ken Holland’s words – get two percent better. By putting them together we hoped that synergy would create a little more offense and also have a real good No. 2 center in Brad Richards who can be accountable defensively.”
The Wings got lucky, literally, in the opening seconds when Senators center Zack Smith launched a shot from the blue line that beat goalie Petr Mrazek.
Fortunately for Mrazek the rising shot rang off the left goal post behind him and caromed into the corner.
The Senators managed to get four shots on goal before the Wings recorded their first. But Detroit made its count when defenseman Danny DeKeyser scored on a shot that went bar down at 3:03 of the period.
DeKeyser now has seven goals this season, with five of them coming in the last 13-plus games.
The Wings’ defenseman stepped into the slot where he took a feeding pass from Gustav Nyquist who camped out behind the Sens’ net. DeKeyser had time to gather the bouncing puck and get a shot off that appeared to go off Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s skate.
The Wings nearly built a two-goal lead – twice. Once on a Darren Helm breakaway and later on a rocket by Brendan Smith.
Sens goalie Craig Anderson likely heard Smith’s bullet shot whiz by his head. But, like Mrazek, earlier in the period, Anderson got lucky when the puck struck the middle of the crossbar and stayed out with 7:45 left in the period.
Detroit had at least one other quality scoring chance, this one on the power play at 3:43. With Alex Chiasson serving a high-sticking penalty, Abdelkader skated in front the right face-off circle to whip a low wrist shot, but Anderson snagged the puck with a quick left glove hand.
DETROIT 1, OTTAWA 0
SCORING: 1. DET, DeKeyser (Nyquist, Athanasiou), 3:03.
PENALTIES: 1, OTT, Chiasson (high-sticking), 14:27; 2. DET, Marchenko (interference), 19:39.
SHOTS: Detroit 13, Ottawa 10.
First order of business for the Red Wings was to kill off the remaining 1:21 of Alexey Marchenko’s interference penalty. They did that without yielding a shot by the Senators.
The Senators’ Smith had another good scoring chance, but this time Mrazek kept the puck in front of him, stopping the center’s shot from close range midway through the period.
For the second time in three games the Wings had an unexpected delay, though this wasn’t nearly as long as Saturday’s 30-plus minute debacle when a bolt, which got wedged under the Zamboni blade, carved a lengthy hole in the ice delaying the start of the third period.
Wednesday’s delay was caused by a broken pane of glass behind the Red Wings’ net. Repairs took less than four minutes.
The Wings continue to play stellar defensively in front of Mrazek. During one sequence, Riley Sheahan’s quick thinking prevented Mika Zibanejad from getting off a shot by tying up his stick in the low slot.
Mrazek came up big during the Sens second power play chance of the night, stymying Smith for a second time in the period. This time Smith, on a power play, tried to bank a bad-angle shot along the goal line off a fallen Mrazek.
Mrazek has gone 115:53 without giving up a goal. The last goal surrendered by the Wings was in the third period against the Islanders.
DETROIT 1, OTTAWA 0
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Helm (hooking), 13:04; 2. DET, Glendening (tripping), 19:22.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (21), Ottawa 8 (18).
The period started on a bad note for the Wings, who lost DeKeyser to an apparent knee injury in the opening minute.
Dion Phaneuf, who was acquired in a trade with Toronto on Tuesday, whistled a blast from the point that looked to hit DeKeyser on the outside of the right knee. He was helped to the team bench and hobbled down the tunnel to the dressing room.
DeKeyser returned later and skated one shift coming out of a TV timeout with 11:24 left in regulation, but headed back to the dressing room upon returning to the bench.
Moments after DeKeyser was hurt, the Wings increased their lead on a delayed penalty to the Sens. Henrik Zetterberg raced around Phaneuf to lift a shot passed Anderson at 2:01.
The Senators’ best chance to get a goal came on a 5-on-3 power play for 27. But the Wings’ PK, led by Sheahan, Luke Glendening and Jonathan Ericsson killed off the two-man advantage before Tomas Jurco, who was serving a too-man-men penalty, exited the box.
The Sens’ Smith finally solved Mrazek, scoring a power-play goal late to ruin the shutout bid.
Helm capped the scoring with an empty netter.
DETROIT 3, OTTAWA 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Zetterberg (Datsyuk), 2:01; 2. OTT, Smith PPG (Hoffman, Karlsson), 17:36; 3. DET, Helm EN (unassisted), 18:49.
PENALTIES: 1. OTT, Borowiecki (boarding) 2:36; 2. DET, Jurco (too man men on the ice), 4:40; 3. DET, Quincey (interference), 6:03; 4. DET, Kindl (hooking), 11:42; 5. DET, Tatar (interference), 15:39.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (29), Ottawa 5 (23).
DETROIT – Jeff Blashill is sticking with his same philosophy on back-to-back nights.
Jimmy Howard will start for just the second time this month when the Red Wings host the Anaheim Ducks at Joe Louis Arena tonight.
Howard has certainly had his struggles this season, though he played well in his last start 13 days ago in Los Angeles. In that game, he made 27 saves in a 4-2 loss to the Kings. It was the first time that Howard wasn’t pulled from a game for a poor performance since Dec. 18 when he 37 stops in a 4-3 shootout loss to Vancouver.
“I expect him to be elite, that’s what it takes to win in the league because I think every game is a one-goal game, so you got to have elite goaltending,” Blashill said of Howard. “I think he’s done that through different parts of the season and went through a little bit of a tough stretch where, one, he might not have played good enough, but probably I also thought some games went the wrong way. I’ve been a goalie, sometimes pucks go wide, pucks hit the post, sometimes they go off guys and in and it just seemed like he was in a couple of games where it was a tough cycle for him. We hope that he can come in and be the elite goalie that he is.”
The 31-year-old Howard has a 7-6-4 record with a 2.68 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage this season.
Meanwhile, Petr Mrazek has seemingly taken control of the team’s unofficially standing as the No. 1 goaltender. In Friday’s 3-0 win at Buffalo, he turned aside all 19 shots he faced, lifting the Red Wings to a 6-2-1 record in their last nine contests.
Friday’s win was Mrazek’s third shutout of the season and the eighth of his career, improving to 6-1-1 in his last eight appearances and 17-9-4 overall with a 2.03 GAA and .932 save percentage.
Tonight’s game is the second and final game of the season series with the Ducks. The Wings defeated the Ducks, 2-1, at Honda Center on Jan. 10.
Saturday’s game is also the 1,400th regular-season game at Joe Louis Arena, which first hosted an NHL game on Dec. 27, 1979. The St. Louis Blues beat the Red Wings 3-2.
The Wings grabbed an early lead when Darren Helm converted a breakaway into his first goal in the past 19 games. Helm’s goal – with assists going to defensemen Brendan Smith and Mike Green – was the first scored by the team in the last five first periods.
Helm, who has four goals this season, last scored Dec. 10 when he netted a pair in a 3-2 win over Montreal at Joe Louis Arena.
Howard looked good early in the period. He seemed to track the puck well in his crease, and was quick laterally when he had to move from post to post. But the Ducks still managed to beat the veteran goalie twice, getting even-strength goals by Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry.
The first goal wasn’t Howard’s fault as Kesler took a pass in the slot from Jakub Silfverberg, who was stationed behind the Wings’ net. Kesler snapped a shot before Henrik Zetterberg could get back.
Perry made a nice play to deke Howard out of position before sliding a backhand into an open net.
ANAHEIM 2, DETROIT 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Helm (Smith, Green), 1:10; 2. ANA, Kesler (Silfverberg, Cogliano), 7:26; 3. ANA, Perry (Rakell, Perron), 18:36.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, DeKeyser (high sticking), 3:31; 2. DET, Smith (cross checking), 9:50; 3. ANA, Perron (goaltender interference), 19:03.
SHOTS: Detroit 9, Anaheim 13.
Two giveaways – one each by Smith and Zetterberg – set up Kesler twice in the matter of seconds. Smith’s gaff behind the net enabled Kesler’s wrap-around attempt, which slid harmlessly through the crease and out the opposite side. From there, Zetterberg’s diagonal clearing pass was intercepted by Kesler who snapped a wrist shot from the high slot. Alertly, Howard made the save on the 35-foot shot.
Dylan Larkin, who collected his fourth multi-point game, and fifth winning goal of the season Friday in Buffalo, had a glorious chance on the Red Wings’ first power play of the period. After taking a pass from Brad Richards, the rookie stepped out from beneath the goal line, but his shot, which sailed under goalie John Gibson’s right arm, hit the far goal post.
While the Wings’ didn’t produce on the power play, they did even the score when Tomas Jurco scored for the first time in 18 games. The play began with Jurco’s breakout pass to Smith From there, Jurco, Smith and Gustav Nyquist took off on an odd-man rush, finishing with Jurco’s pretty backhand shot into the top of the net behind Gibson.
Looking to spark the offense, Blashill shuffled the forward lines late in the second period, reuniting Zetterberg with Pavel Datsyuk and Larkin. Fourth liners Teemu Pulkkinen and Jurco were elevated to the second line with Richards. The third line is now Riley Sheahan with Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, and fourth-line center Luke Glendening is with Justin Abdelkader and Helm.
With 4:59 left on the period, Green brought the sold-out crowd to their feet. As the defenseman exited the penalty box he received a stretch pass that set Green in alone on Gibson. But the Ducks’ goalie made a spectacular glove save to keep the score even at 2-2.
DETROIT 2, ANAHEIM 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Jurco (Nyquist, Smith), 9:21.
PENALTIES: 1. ANA, Perron (holding), 6:07; 2. DET, Ericsson (hooking), 10:44; 3. DET, Green (delay of game), 12:52.
SHOTS: Detroit 10 (19), Anaheim 13 (26).
For the second time in the game, Perry gave the Ducks a one-goal lead with a no-look, sweeping shot from in close that squeezed between Danny DeKeyser and Howard.
A minute later the Wings went on the power play, but they couldn’t find the equalizer.
For the second straight night Larkin was worse for wear when he suffered a large cut to the left cheek. As he and defenseman Kevin Bieksa fell to the ice in front of the Ducks’ net, Larkin was accidentally cut by Bieksa’s skate.
Larkin had his nose bloodied and chipped a tooth when he was high sticked by the Sabres’ Marcus Foligno in the third period of Friday’s game. Larkin had dental work done Saturday afternoon.
Kesler scored his second goal of the game, giving the Ducks a 4-2 lead.
With 3:27 left, Rickard Rakell was called for boarding when he slammed Smith into the end boards behind the Detroit net. Smith appeared injured on the play and went to the Wings’ dressing room. Meanwhile, Howard went to the bench to give Detroit a 6-on-4 advantage.
Shortly after the penalty expired, Detroit pulled within one when DeKeyser’s blast from the point got through traffic and behind Gibson.
The Wings made it interesting in the final minute, but Gibson and the Ducks did a superb job of crowding the crease and secure their win.
The loss is the Wings’ fifth straight at home (0-4-1). Detroit’s last win on home ice was Dec. 20 in a 4-2 decision against Calgary.
ANAHEIM 4, DETROIT 3
SCORING: 1. ANA, Perry (Rakell, Maroon), 2:28; 2. Kesler (Getzlaf, Silfverberg), 6:41; DeKeyser (Pulkkinen, Tatar), 18:44.
PENALTIES: 1. ANA, Silfverberg (high sticking), 3:03; 2. ANA, Rakell (boarding), 16:33.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (27), Anaheim 9 (35).
While Richards promises to be back in the lineup when the Wings host Anaheim at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night, Kronwall’s absence will be weeks, not days.
Kronwall had knee surgery on Tuesday and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks before he’ll likely be ready to draw back into the lineup.
The Wings still feel that they’re in good shape because of the kind of depth they have at basically every position.
“Every team goes through injuries and through the course of the season you have to rely on your organizational depth and I think we’ve got good organizational depth,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I felt like we had seven D that all were very capable of being real good defensemen at the NHL level and we could only play six of them. So when Kronner went out we’ve got six that I think are very capable of being really good NHL defensemen. I thought Alexey Marchenko was great last game. He was the one sitting out prior to that. So obviously Nik’s a really good player, but we try to concentrate on the 18 skaters and two goalies that are dressed that night.”
The defense was definitely active for the Red Wings in the opening 20 minutes of Friday’s contest. Despite being out-shot 12-8 by Detroit, the Sabres maintain plenty of puck possession in the offense zone.
The Wings’ defense did their part to help out goalie Petr Mrazek. blocking eight shots in the period, two by Jonathan Ericsson. Meanwhile, Justin Abdelkader, Mike Green, Kyle Quincey, Teemu Pulkkinen, Danny DeKeyser and Dylan Larkin had one blocked shot each.
Making his 63rd career start, and the 29th this season, Mrazek was tested a few times, especially on a tricky play by Rasmus Ristolainen. The Sabres’ defenseman crossed the attacking blue line, dipped passed a Wings’ defender, and made a 360-spin at the top of the left faceoff circle before unleashing a 32-foot shot.
With traffic lined up in front of him on the play, Mrazek made a heady shot to keep the puck out of the Wings’ net.
Detroit had two power plays in the first period, but only mustered one long-distance shot during the second man-advantage from Green at the left point. The Wings’ penalty kill was successful during its only work in the first, making it nine straight kills for the special teams unit.
It was just the second time the Wings and Sabres played to a scoreless period in one of their four meetings this season. They battled to a scoreless first period in the Sabres’ 2-1 win on Dec. 14 at Joe Louis Arena.
DETROIT 0, BUFFALO 0
PENALTIES: 1. BUF, Larsson (hooking), 3:42; 2. DET, Larkin (tripping), 7:24; 3. BUF, C. O’Reilly(interference), 13:33.
SHOTS: Detroit 12, Buffalo 8.
The period had a more fluid up-and-down pace to it than the opening 20 minutes, and both goalies – Mrazek and Robin Lehner.
The Sheahan line with Jurco and Tatar cause some trouble for the Sabres midway through the period. During their shift they combined on three shots while managing to retrieve and possess the puck for nearly a minute.
Brian Gionta had a score chance snuffed out when he couldn’t handle Johan Larsson’s centering pass on a 2-on-1 rush into the Red Wings zone. Larsson threaded a perfectly placed pass that avoided a diving Quincey in the slot. But Gionta appeared to fumble the pass in close and his shovel attempt sailed to the left of Mrazek.
Late in the period, Larkin took a pretty big hit along the end boards deep in the Sabres’ zone. As the pursued a loose puck in the corner he was heavily checked simultaneously by defensemen Zach Bogosian and Ristolainen.
The Wings definitely side step a near catastrophe when DeKeyser escaped serious injury when it appeared that a puck, shot from close range by the Sabres’ Evander Kane, with 2:18 left in the period.
DeKeyser was helped to the bench by team trainer Piet Van Zant, but the defenseman was back on the ice before the end of the period, not missing a single shift.
DETROIT 0, BUFFALO 0
SHOTS: Detroit 15 (27), Buffalo 9 (17).
Abdelkader appeared to be shaken up, albeit momentarily, when he was hit in the side of the head by a Larkin backhand shot from the low slot. The Wings’ forward was battling with defenseman Mike Weber when both tumbled face first to the ice in front of Lehner, and Larkin shipped a backhander that connected with the right side of Abdelkader’s head. He was attended to by Van Zant, but like DeKeyser late in the second, did not miss a shift.
The Red Wings received a four-minute power play when Marcus Foligno received a double minor for high sticking that draw blood from Larkin’s face.
While the four-minute advantage didn’t produce a goal, Larkin, with cotton packed in his left nostril to absorb a bloody nose, he got some justice when he gave the Wings the lead with his 15th goal of the season. The rookie’s initial shot was saved by Lehner. As the Michigan native made his way around the back of the net to the far side Luke Glendening spot him with a perfect pass that Larkin deposited into the empty side of the net.
Larkin picked up a second point when he set up Henrik Zetterberg’s second goal in as many games. Larkin, who has 32 points in 46 games, is now tied with former forward John Ogrodnick (1979-80) for No. 21 on the franchise’s all-time rookie scoring list.
Since scoring four goals at Buffalo Jan. 2, the Red Wings have scored just 15 goals in the last eight games.
The Wings return home to host Anaheim at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night. The Ducks were to play in Washington on Friday, but the severe snowstorm that descended upon the nation’s capital caused the NHL to postpone the game.
The shutout is Mrazek’s third of the season, the eighth of his career.
DETROIT 3, BUFFALO 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Larkin (Glendening, Ericsson), 12:01; 2. DET, Zetterberg (Larkin), 17:09; 3. DET, Glendening EN (unassisted), 19:11.
PENALTIES: 1. BUF, Foligno (double minor, high sticking), 7:19
SHOTS: Detroit 18 (45), Buffalo 2 (19).