MONTREAL -- The Red Wings have consistently gone with two goaltenders when playing back-to-back games.
The only time that changed was when the Wings played at home against the New York Rangers Saturday afternoon and at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs Sunday night March 12-13.
Petr Mrazek started both of those games.
But when playing at home and then traveling, the Wings have usually changed goaltenders.
"I think first of all on the back to back, if you can go with two goalies, I think you're better off in most situations," Blashill said. "We have said all year we think a strength of our team can be our goaltending. I thought Jim was real good last night, we need Petr to be real good tonight."
Mrazek has not played as well in recent weeks as he had earlier in the season.
In his recent outing, Mrazek was pulled against Pittsburgh after allowing four goals on 27 shots.
But Blashill has confidence in his young goaltender.
"I've been with him a long time and repeatedly he's done a good job of coming back from tough situations and playing real well," Blashill said. "So I believe that he's one, got the skills and he's put the work in with (goaltending coach) Jimmy Bedard that he can come out and have a real good game tonight."
Rookie Anthony Mantha, who grew up 20 minutes outside of Montreal, expects to have 40-50 friends and family members in attendance, including his billets, who are driving six-plus hours from Val d'Or for the game.
"Excited," Mantha said after the team arrived at the Bell Centre Tuesday evening. "A lot of family members, friends are going to be here. They’re all trying to get ahold of me to come down and see me after the game. We’ll just see after the game how it goes and obviously I hope we play well and we win tonight."
At 37, Datsyuk still has a lot of skills and knowledge that Mantha can learn from.
"It’s been amazing," Mantha said. "He’s such a great player. He brings a lot of O-zone play when he’s on the ice. He wins almost every one-on-one battle if it’s not every one. It’s just easier for me to skate around and know that he has the puck and I could head to the net and know it’s going to come or go in the corner and know it’s going to come. It’s just plays that he makes that not everyone can make."
The game started out a bit tentative on both sides with only one shot for each team in the first seven-plus minutes.
The Wings began the period with seven seconds left to kill on Mantha's hooking penalty.
The Canadiens came out firing, out-shooting the Wings 8-1 to start the frame.
Then at 8:44, Emelin hit Dylan Larkin with a shoulder check that sent Larkin hard into the boards.
Larkin left to go to the dressing room.
Justin Abdelkader immediately took on Emelin. Abdelkader received an instigating, fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.
Emelin received two majors, one for interference and another for fighting.
Once the Wings got on the power play, they scored.
First, Gustav Nyquist from just above the right circle at 12:33, assisted by Niklas Kronwall.
Then, Anthony Mantha finally managed to get a rebound past Condon from the right doorstep at 13:17, assisted by Datsyuk.
Montreal's Mike Brown went after Kronwall at 14:18 and was called for a double minor for cross-checking and roughing.
The Wings made them pay as Mike Green got the power-play goal. The assists went to Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar, who took the original shot.
RED WINGS 3, CANADIENS 2
SCORING: 1. DET, PPG, Gustav Nyquist (17), Niklas Kronwall, 12:33. 2. DET, PPG, Anthony Mantha (2), Pavel Datsyuk, 13:17. 3. DET, PPG, Mike Green (6), Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Tatar, 16:20.
PENALTIES: 1. MTL, major, Alexei Emelin, interference, served by Mike Brown, 8:44. 2. MTL, major, Alexei Emelin, fighting, 8:44. 3. DET, minor, Justin Abdelkader, instigating a fight, 8:44. 4. DET, major, Justin Abdelkader, fighting, 8:44. 5. DET, Justin Abdelkader, 10-minute misconduct, 8:44. 6. MTL, double minor, Mike Brown, cross-checking and roughing, 14:18.
SHOTS: Detroit 11 (19), Montreal 9 (17).
There was drama early in the second as Michigan native Michael McCarron drove around the Detroit net, the puck came out to Emelin and Emelin's shot beat Howard at 2:58.
But Brown was in the crease and his stick appeared to interfere with Howard's blocker so the Wings challenged the goal.
After review, it was ruled no goal and the Wings kept the 3-2 lead.
Torrey Mitchell had a good chance, intercepting a Kronwall pass and coming in on Howard, but Howard made the save.
While trying to get the puck out of the zone, Luke Glendening instead sent it over the glass for a delay of game penalty.
The Canadiens did not take long to score as Andrighetto deflected Plekanec's shot past Howard at 6:34. Markov got the second assist.
Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal, his second of the game, at 11:18 when Howard was down after making a save, the puck came to Pacioretty at the right side and he lifted it over Howard.
Galchenyuk and Byron had the assists.
Pacioretty now has seven goals and four assists in 13 games against the Wings.
Henrik Zetterberg found Abdelkader in front at 12:52 but Condon made the save.
Then Howard stopped Byron's shot from the left circle at 14:25.
Pacioretty nearly had a hat trick but Howard stopped him at 15:22.
The Wings pulled Howard for the extra attacker at 17:44.
CANADIENS 4, RED WINGS 3
SCORING: 1. MTL, PPG, Sven Andrighetto (7), Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, 6:34. 2. MTL, Max Pacioretty (27, 2nd of game), Alex Galchenyuk, Paul Byron, 11:18.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, minor, Luke Glendening, delay of game (puck over glass), 6:23. 2. MTL, minor, Andrei Markov, roughing, 19:20. 3. DET, minor, Justin Abdelkader, roughing, 19:20.
SHOTS: Detroit 23 (42), Montreal 10 (27).
DETROIT – The Red Wings begin a grueling two-week sprint to the end of the regular season tonight when they host the Buffalo Sabres at Joe Louis Arena.
Also, tonight, the Wings start the first of three back-to-back sets of games. They’ll travel later this evening to Montreal, where they will play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Tuesday.
The Red Wings are trying to extend their playoff streak to 25 straight years. Detroit owns the longest active playoff streak in North American pro sports.
Detroit and Philadelphia, who are engaged in a battle for the second wild card playoff spot, are the only Eastern Conference clubs with three sets of back-to-back games left on its schedules.
Following Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Pittsburgh, the Wings took Sunday off. They will also use this Wednesday as a rest day after facing the Sabres and Canadiens on back-to-back nights.
“In this league, especially, rest is a critical part of success, can certainly be as critical as practice,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We’ve tried to monitor our rest days versus our practice days. As I told them after the game, that game’s over, let’s move on to the next game, so hopefully our focus has been on Buffalo all day yesterday and today.”
With seven games left, it seems the Red Wings need to win at least six of the remaining games that would give them 97 points. However, the Wings have not won six of seven games during any stretch of this season.
“For us we want to play in the postseason and when we do that, obviously the streak continues,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “In here our main focus is not the streak. It’s to be able to play in the playoffs. That’s the message that we try to get through here.”
Since 1999-2000, when the league began awarding a point for an overtime/shootout loss, 11 teams that have finished with 92 to 96 points have not qualified for the postseason, including Boston (96), Los Angeles (95) and Dallas (92) last season.
Jimmy Howard will get his first start since he was pulled after allowing three goals on 16 shots in a 6-2 loss at Tampa Bay last Tuesday.
Goaltending has been an up-and-down proposition this season but Howard gives the Red Wings the best chance to beat the Sabres tonight. Since Feb. 18, Howard has a 3-2-1 record with a 2.80 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
Meanwhile, Petr Mrazek has experienced a hard fall since mid-February. In that time, he has a 6-7-2 record with a 3.30 GAA, an .888 save percentage, and has been pulled four times.
Howard said he won’t change his approach to this start.
“Just play the way I know I’m capable of playing,” he said. “If I can do that,
then I just give the guys a chance.
“We’ve got to focus on ourselves and going out there and putting forth a 60-minute effort. It’s down to do or die like it has been for the last month. We’ve got to find a way to win games here.”
Alexey Marchenko, who has been a healthy scratch for the past four games, will play tonight and be paired with defenseman Niklas Kronwall. To make room in the lineup, Brendan Smith will not play. He had played in nine straight games.
Dylan Larkin became the highest scoring rookie in Red Wings history when he scored his 22nd goal of the season. His power-play goal at 18:32 of the first period ties him with Zetterberg, also collected 22 goals and 44 points in his freshman campaign in 2002-03.
Larkin had a glorious scoring chance on a near breakaway but Josh Gorges got back in time to distract the Wings’ rookie, preventing him from getting a quality shot on Sabres goalie Chad Johnson.
Seconds later, the Wings went on the power play when Nicolas Deslauriers was called for hitting Marchenko with an elbow along the half wall. The Wings managed to get one shot on goal during the man advantage but not much else.
Detroit had three power play chances in the period; Buffalo had one opportunity when Brad Richards went to the box for hooking.
With 7:13 left in the period, Karen Newman led the sold out crowd in a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to Red Wings legend Gordie Howe, who will turn 88 years old on Thursday.
The Wings finished with five shots during 3:03 of power play time. Larkin is now tied for 12th with Zetterberg and Dallas Drake (1992-93) in rookie scoring in franchise history.
DETROIT 1, BUFFALO 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Larkin PPG (Zetterberg, Kronwall), 18:32.
PENALTIES: 1. BUF, Deslauriers (elbowing), 8:21; 2. BUF, Larsson, (hooking), 12:47; 3. DET, Richards (hooking), 13:27; 4, BUF, Gorges (interference), 18:09.
SHOTS: Detroit 12, Buffalo 4.
It might have been the prettiest goal of his NHL career. A coast-to-coast effort by Riley Sheahan spotted the Red Wings a two-goal lead midway through the second period.
Sheahan’s 12th goal of the season was his fifth in his past 20 games, and third in the three games. He scored twice in Detroit’s 4-3 win over Montreal last Thursday.
The Wings came close to going up 3-0 lead in the waning seconds of the period, but Johnson managed to cover up a loose puck before Tomas Tatar could get a stick on it.
The Sabres’ nine shots is the lowest total allowed by the Red Wings through two periods of any game this season.
DETROIT 2, BUFFALO 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Sheahan (unassisted), 9:05.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Ericsson (holding), 0:30; 2. BUF, Foligno (cross-checking), 15:44.
SHOTS: Detroit 9 (21), Buffalo 5 (9).
Howard wasn’t challenged much but he certainly seems to have the Sabres’ number throughout his career. With Monday’s win, Howard now has a 7-0-1 record against Buffalo. Howard has allowed just 13 goals in eight career starts against the Sabres.
However, Buffalo made Howard earn his win late in the game. The Sabres scored consecutive goals just 62 seconds apart to make the Wings sweat.
Luke Glendening capped the Wings’ scoring with an empty-net goal at 17 minutes to put Detroit up 3-0. But 10 seconds later, the Sabres punched one passed Howard when Zemgus Girgensons scored his sixth goal of the season, and then Sam Reinhart scored on a blast from the half wall with 1:49 remaining in regulation.
With the Flyers’ overtime win over Winnipeg, the Red Wings remain on the outside of the playoff race by virtue of having played one more game than Philadelphia. The Wings and Flyers are tied with 87 points, but Detroit has played 76 games to Philadelphia’s 75.
DETROIT 3, BUFFALO 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Glendening EN (Zetterberg), 17:00; 2. BUF, Girgensons (Gionta, Nelson), 17:10; 3. BUF, Reinhart (Nelson, O’Reilly), 18:12.
PENALTIES: 1. BUF, McCabe (interference), 6:15; 2. DET, Abdelkader (hooking), 11:31.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (29), Buffalo 11 (20).
DETROIT -- The Red Wings need all the points they can get with just eight games left but the Pittsburgh Penguins are always a challenge no matter what time of year it is.
Although the Wings are tied with the Philadelphia Flyers with 85 points, the Flyers have a game in hand and currently hold the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Penguins have been on a roll, especially lately, winning six of their last seven and 10 of their last 14.
"Obviously Sidney Crosby's one of the best players in the world, has been for a long time," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "But they've got a real complete team, I think their coach has them playing real hard shift by shift. I think Fleury's been real good in net, so they're a real complete team that plays real hard and is real structured. It'll be a great challenge for us."
Crosby is playing in his 700th career game, the sixth player in Penguins history to reach that milestone.
Blashill said Niklas Kronwall, who took a maintenance day Friday and did not skate, is expected to play.
Petr Mrazek will start in goal for the Wings, Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.
Mrazek is 1-3-0 with a 4.12 goals-against average and .891 save percentage against the Penguins.
Fleury is 7-6-1 with a 2.99 goals-against average and .904 save percentage against the Wings.
The Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin (upper body) and Olli Maatta (lower body).
The Penguins are unbeaten in their last five against the Wings, going 3-0-2, and are 5-1-2 in the last eight games against the Wings.
Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg has 10 goals and nine assists in 16 games against the Penguins. Brad Richards has nine goals and 34 assists in 46 games against the Penguins.
The Penguins kept Mrazek busy in the early going, getting four shots before the Wings got their first.
Mrazek stopped Bryan Rust's backhand shot from the slot at 1:16, then Fleury saved Gustav Nyquist's shot at the other end.
At 4:09 Justin Abdelkader hit Brian Doumoulin behind the Pittsburgh net and Doumoulin was cut on the lip and had to leave for repairs but quickly returned.
The Wings got the all-important first goal at 8:24 when Brad Richards spotted a streaking Andreas Athanasiou heading towards the offensive zone.
Athanasiou beat Fleury stick-side for his seventh goal of the season. Nyquist got the second assist.
The Wings got the first power play when Carl Hagelin, the former Michigan player, hooked Zetterberg at 15:52 but they were unable to capitalize.
Mrazek had to make two good stops at 18:32 on Justin Schultz in front and Nick Bonino on the right side, looking for the rebound.
RED WINGS 1, PENGUINS 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Andreas Athanasiou (7), Brad Richards, Jonathan Ericsson, 8:24.
PENALTIES: 1. PIT, minor, Patric Hornqvist, slashing, 8:39. 2. DET, minor, Danny DeKeyser, roughing, 8:39. 3. PIT, minor, Carl Hagelin, hooking, 15:52.
SHOTS: Detroit 9, Pittsburgh 12.
It was not the start to the period that the Wings were looking for.
Mrazek stopped Kris Letang's shot from the point but Chris Kunitz got the rebound to go off of Mrazek's leg into the net 20 seconds into the frame.
Crosby got the second assist.
Things continued to go downhill as Pavel Datsyuk ended up in the box for hooking Crosby at 3:02.
Letang's shot from the right circle beat Mraze through the five-hole at 4:08. Phil Kessel and Trevor Daley assisted.
In 14 games against the Wings, Letang has three goals and seven assists.
At 11:58, Hagelin spun around and shot from the right circle, beating Mrazek for a 3-1 Penguins lead.
Kessel and Bonino got the assists.
Kessel is the fourth player from the 2006 draft to register 300 career assists, joining Chicago's Jonathan Toews, Philadelphia's Claude Giroux and Washington's Nicklas Backstrom.
The Wings managed to kill off Abdelkader's tripping penalty but that didn't stop the Penguins' offensive onslaught.
Kessel scored from the right circle at 15:11, assisted by Cole and Bonino, giving him 22 goals for the season.
Jimmy Howard, on his 32nd birthday, replaced Mrazek in goal.
Mrazek allowed four goals on 27 shots. It is the third time Mrazek has been pulled in a game against the Penguins.
For his career, Mrazek has a 4.52 goals-against average and .884 save percentage against the Penguins. This season alone, Mrazek has a 5.61 goals-against average and .863 save percentage in three games against them.
At 16:22, Datsyuk was called for interference as he hit Kunitz, who was dazed and had to be helped off the ice.
PENGUINS 4, RED WINGS 1
SCORING: 1. PIT, Chris Kunitz (17), Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, :20.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, minor, Pavel Datsyuk, hooking, 3:02. 2. DET, minor, Justin Abdelkader, tripping, 13:03. 3. DET, minor, Pavel Datsyuk, interference, 16:22.
SHOTS: Detroit 10 (19), Pittsburgh 15 (27).
For the first time all season, the Wings have scored a power-play goal in four consecutive games.
Bonino went off for tripping Nyquist at 4:41 and the Wings quickly capitalized.
Mike Green's shot from the high slot fluttered in, appeared to hit a Penguin or two and then went past Fleury stick side. Datsyuk got the lone assist, the 600th of his career.
It was Green's first goal since Feb. 6 against the New York Islanders, snapping a 20-game goalless drought.
But the Penguins restored the three-goal lead at 6:34.
Tomas Tatar fell down and Bonino picked up the puck and went in with Brendan Smith defending.
Howard made the initial save but Eric Fehr came in late to poke the rebound into the net.
It was Fehr's first goal in 16 games.
Hagelin and Kessel got a partial 2-on-1 with Smith back and Datsyuk coming in but Smith couldn't prevent Kessel's pass to Hagelin on the left side and Hagelin beat Howard at 8:37 for his second of the game.
Bonino capped off his five-point day with a power-play goal at 14:45, assisted by Kessel and Fehr. Kessel also had five points.
It is the most goals allowed by the Wings this season and most scored by the Penguins.
PENGUINS 7, RED WINGS 2
SCORING: 1. DET, PPG: Mike Green (5), Pavel Datsyuk, 5:08. 2. PIT, Eric Fehr (6), Nick Bonino, 6:34. 3. PIT, Carl Hagelin (11, 2nd of game), Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino, 8:37. 4. PIT, PPG, Nick Bonino (6), Phil Kessel, Eric Fehr, 14:45.
PENALTIES: 1. PIT, minor, Nick Bonino, tripping, 4:41. 2. DET, minor, Danny DeKeyser, interference, 9:19. 3. PIT, minor, Ian Cole, slashing, 11:55. 4. DET, minor, Justin Abdelkader, slashing, 11:55. 5. DET, minor, Brad Richards, tripping, 13:45.
SHOTS: Detroit 4 (23), Pittsburgh 14 (41).
DETROIT -- The Red Wings can relate to what the Montreal Canadiens have gone through this season in terms of injuries.
Coming into Thursday night's game, the Canadiens had lost 271 man-games to injuries.
Among the most devastating losses are goaltender Carey Price, who has not played since Nov. 25, forward Brendan Gallagher, out the last eight games, and defenseman Jeff Petry, out since Feb.7.
More recently, defenseman P.K. Subban has missed the last six games with a neck injury.
The team that started the season with nine straight wins has fallen to 13th in the Eastern Conference but that does not mean the Wings can take the Canadiens lightly.
"I think first of all when teams are out of the playoffs they can be dangerous," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "Certainly they have young, eager guys in the lineup that want to show that they are NHL players without really the pressure of having to win. I think there's such a fine line between teams in the NHL today that whether you're in the playoffs or you're out of the playoffs, you're a really good hockey team. A number of teams have proven that. We just played on in Columbus that was out and they were every bit as good as any team we've played that's in. I assume we'll get the same type of effort from Montreal tonight."
The Wings are in a season-long struggle in goal-scoring.
With 186 goals, the Wings are ahead of just Carolina (177), Buffalo (176), Toronto (174) and New Jersey (166) in the Eastern Conference.
"Obviously as a team we've had tough times to score goals," Gustav Nyquist said. "I'm included in that group for sure. I've struggled to put the puck in the net enough times. Obviously I'd like to score more and produce more points but you've just got to keep working. The most important thing right now is the playoffs. We've just got to make sure as a team that we get in, so that's our main focus."
Wings rookie Anthony Mantha makes his home debut in front of many family members and friends, including his grandfather, Andre Pronovost, who played for the Wings, the Boston Bruins, the Canadiens and the Minnesota North Stars.
On a scrum in front of the Detroit net, Petr Mrazek made the save and then the puck eventually worked itself loose as the Canadiens whacked away.
The puck did go in the net but it was ruled no goal because the whistle had blown for a Montreal penalty, cross-checking on Tomas Plekanec at 2:53.
The Wings got one shot but could not score with the man-advantage, the same result as when Torrey Mitchell took a tripping penalty at 10:10.
Max Pacioretty had a shorthanded partial breakaway with Dylan Larkin following quickly, but Mrazek made the save.
Then at 15:18, Mrazek was trying to clear the puck and sent it right to Pacioretty, whose shot went off of Mrazek's shoulder and over the net.
Mantha took a stick to the face late in the period but did not draw a penalty or miss any time.
At 18:46, Brendan Smith shot from the right circle and Riley Sheahan backhanded the rebound past goaltender Ben Scrivens. Mike Green got the second assist.
RED WINGS 1, CANADIENS 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Riley Sheahan (10), Brendan Smith, Mike Green, 18:46.
PENALTIES: 1. MTL, minor, Tomas Plekanec, cross-checking, 2:53. 2. MTL, minor, Torrey Mitchell, tripping, 10:10.
SHOTS: Detroit 11, Montreal 13.
At 2:38, Smith had a big hit on Montreal forward Stefan Matteau, who went to the ice immediately.
Phillip Danault took exception and fought with Smith. Danault got four minutes for roughing while Smith had two.
Although the Wings did not capitalize on the power play, they did increase their lead shortly thereafter.
At 5:36, Luke Glendening picked up a loose puck and put it past Scrivens. Andreas Athanasiou and Darren Helm got the assists.
Just 12 seconds later, Sheahan got his second of the game on a breakaway, unassisted, for a 3-0 lead.
The Mantha family got what it was looking for at 17:27 of the period.
The Wings had a power play and Mantha was at the net and scooped up the rebound of Brad Richards' shot and buried it for his first NHL goal. Green got the second assist and the Wings had a 4-0 lead.
RED WINGS 4, CANADIENS 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Luke Glendening (7), Andreas Athanasiou, Darren Helm, 5:36. 2. DET, Riley Sheahan (11, 2nd of game), Brendan Smith, Pavel Datsyuk, 5:48. 3. DET, PPG, Anthony Mantha (1), Brad Richards, Mike Green, 17:27.
PENALTIES: 1. MTL, double minor, Phillip Danault, roughing, 2:38. Second penalty served by Mike Brown 2. DET, minor, Brendan Smith, roughing, 2:38. 3. MTL, minor, Nathan Beaulieu, high-sticking, 16:17.
SHOTS: Detroit 21 (32), Montreal 5 (18).
Plekanec shot from the left circle and Mrazek appeared to make the save but the puck ended up trickling through just 47 seconds into the period, ending the shutout bid and ending Plekanec's 19-game goalless drought.
The goal was unassisted.
In 17 games against the Wings, Plekanec has nine goals and five assists.
Things got worse when Paul Byron's rebound beat Mrazek at 4:16. Darren Dietz got the assist as the lead was cut to 4-2.
After a skirmish landed both Pacioretty and Abdelkader in the box for roughing, the Canadiens cut the lead to 4-3 after Pacioretty came out and scored at 7:50.
His shot from the right circle deflected off of Niklas Kronwall's skate and into the net.
Both Richards and Glendening had chances at 8:54 but Scrivens was able to make the saves.
At 10:59, things boiled over again as Matteau and Green had a go and got roughing calls.
The Canadiens pulled Scrivens with just over a minute left in the period.
Kyle Quincey was called for interference with 16.4 seconds left.
RED WINGS 4, CANADIENS 3
SCORING: 1. MTL, Tomas Plekanec (13), unassisted, :47. 2. MTL, Paul Byron (10), Darren Dietz, 4:16. 3. MTL, Max Pacioretty (25), Alex Galchenyuk, Joel Hanley, 7:50.
PENALTIES: 1. MTL, minor, Max Pacioretty, roughing, 5:43. 2. DET, minor, Justin Abdelkader, roughing, 5:43. 3. MTL, minor, Stefan Matteau, roughing, 10:59. 4. DET, minor, Mike Green, roughing, 10:59. 5. DET, minor, Kyle Quincey, interference, 19:43.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (40), Montreal 11 (29)
TAMPA, Fla. – Playoff seeding is still in doubt, and for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos that makes the Red Wings – who are in a battle to reach the postseason for a 25th consecutive season – perhaps more dangerous than usual.
“If you look at their group over there they have a great group of veteran guys and some great young talent that’s coming this year and have played extremely well,” the Lightning’s leading scorer said following Tuesday’s morning skate at Amalie Arena.
With 10 games remaining, the Red Wings are clinching to the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. But with a regulation win tonight the Wings would trail the second-place Lightning by just two points in the Atlantic Division.
“We’ve had tight games with them all year,” Stamkos said. “You go back to the playoff series, arguably our closest and toughest playoff series with obviously the exception of Chicago, the games that we’ve played this year have been tight. They had a big comeback win in Florida. They’re feeling good about their game. We have to be a team that comes out and matches their effort level and it’s going to be a good challenge for us tonight.”
Tyler Johnson, who has a goal and an assist in the three-game season series, knows the Wings’ personnel better than most. He was one of the Lightning’s players who lost in the 2013 AHL Calder Cup finals against the Wings’ minor-league farm hands.
The 25-year-old Johnson said it’s quite easy to get up for games against the Wings.
“I think some of the guys who played in the AHL have a better understanding of (the Detroit-Tampa Bay rivalry) playing in the Calder Cup against them, and then throughout the seasons and playing against them in the playoffs as well,” he said. “I personally think as a team that we grew the most when we played Detroit in that series. That was one of the toughest series we ever played in and that really got our team ready for the rest of the playoffs there.”
The Red Wings have dropped five straight regular-season decisions in Tampa Bay, while posting a 2-7-1 record in the last 10 games, including last spring’s opening-round playoff series won by the Lightning in seven games.
But Detroit has 2-1-0 in the season series, having posted 3-1 and 2-1 wins in the opening month of the season at Joe Louis Arena.
The Lightning stormed to a 1-0 lead in the opening minutes of the fourth and final meeting between these clubs in the regular season. Ondrej Palat set up the scoring play when he lofted a saucer pass to Erik Condra, who slipped behind Niklas Kronwall before wristing a 20-footer over Jimmy Howard’s left catching glove.
The Red Wings have now surrendered the first goal in nine of the last 10 games.
Tampa Bay opened up a two-goal lead when Vladislav Namestnikov slid a rebound between Howard’s legs at 9:55. It was the Lightning’s 12th sot of the period.
The period turned chippy as Cedric Paquette took runs at a few Red Wings, including Kyle Quincey and Luke Glendening on the same shift. Quincey got up slowly after the Lightning center sent him into the boards behind the Wings’ net. Moments later Paquette drew Glendening into a roughing penalty that the Wings managed to kill successfully.
TAMPA BAY 2, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. TBL, Condra (Palat, Boyle), 1:47; 2. TBL, Namestnikov (Brown), 9:55.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Quincey (roughing), 7:17; 2. TBL, Paquette (roughing), 7:17; 3. DET, Glendening (roughing), 15:34.
SHOTS: Detroit 7, Tampa Bay 15.
Coach Jeff Blashill saw enough of Howard after the veteran surrendered a fluky goal to Stamkos just 33 seconds into the middle period. Stamkos’s 34th goal of the season came as he tried to make a pass into the slot but the puck caromed off Jonathan Ericsson and passed Howard who never saw it.
For Howard, who made 13 saves on 16 shots, it was the third time this season he was lifted. He was also relieved from starts against New Jersey (Dec. 22) and Winnipeg (Dec. 29).
Brendan Smith tried giving a spark to the Wings when he challenged J.T. Brown. Both tossed a few punches without doing any damage and received fighting majors for their efforts. It was Smith’s second fight this season.
The Wings solved big Ben Bishop with their third power-play goal in the last two games. Standing at the left side of the crease, Justin Abdelkader scored on a rebound from Henrik Zetterberg’s shot. It was Abdelkader’s sixth power-play goal of the season, but his first since Dec. 10.
Petr Mrazek had to made a heady save when with 5:19 left the Lightning’s Johnson slipped into the zone, splitting Smith and Mike Green before getting a shot off that the Wings’ goalie smothered.
Almost like they did in Florida on Saturday, the Wings got a lift with a late goal in the second period. Darren Helm used Alex Killorn as a screen the slot and whipped an off-balance shot between Bishop’s legs at 15:25.
Pavel Datsyuk and Anthony Mantha picked up assists on the Wings’ second goal of the game. For Mantha, how is playing in his fourth career game for the Wings, the assist is his first point in in the league.
The Wings put themselves in a pickle when Green and Abdelkader worked their way to the penalty box just 12 seconds apart giving the Lightning a 5-on-3 man advantage. And it didn’t take Tampa Bay long to regain a two-goal lead when Nikita Kucherov tapped a pass/shot from Johnson behind Mrazek.
Niklas Kronwall was called for slashing with 1:13 left in the period. The Wings still must kill off 47 seconds of a Lightning power play at the start of the third period.
TAMPA BAY 4, DETROIT 2
SCORING: 1. TBL, Stamkos (Kucherov, Hedman), 0:33; 2. DET, Abdelkader PPG (Zetterberg, Kronwall), 8:08; 3. DET, Helm (Datsyuk, Mantha), 15:25; 4. TBL, Kucherov PPG (Johnson, Stamkos), 17:42.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Smith (fighting), 2:21; 2. TBL, Brown (fighting), 2:21; 3. Killorn (roughing), 6:34; 4. DET, Green (tripping), 16:41; 5. Abdelkader (cross-checking), 16:53; 6. DET, Kronwall (slashing), 18:47.
SHOTS: Detroit 9 (16), Tampa Bay 12 (27).
The Lightning reestablished a three-goal lead when Palat went hard to the net and tapped a backhander off a rebound from Johnson’s shot. Palat’s second goal of the game was his 15th of the season.
The Wings trailed by three goals twice in this game. It was the seventh time in the past 10 games that Detroit has been down by two goals or more. They trailed Florida (March 19), Philadelphia (March 15), Winnipeg (March 10), Columbus (March 8), and Chicago (March 6, March 2).
The Red Wings now head home where they’ll play the next three at Joe Louis Arena beginning Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens.
Condra capped the scoring with his second goal of the game at 16:56.
Coupled with Philadelphia’s shoot out loss at Columbus, the Red Wings and Flyers have 84 points each, but because the Flyers have one game in hand they leapfrog Detroit for the second and final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
TAMPA BAY 6, DETROIT 2
SCORING: 1. TBL, Palat (Johnson, Hedman), 1:03; 2. TBL, Condra (Boyle), 16:56.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Nyquist (slashing), 5:21; 2. TBL, Namestnikov (slashing), 5:21.
SHOTS: Detroit 9 (25), Tampa Bay 7 (34).
SUNRISE, Fla. – The Red Wings received some help this afternoon when Pittsburgh defeated Philadelphia, 4-1, keeping the Flyers one point behind Detroit for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Now the Wings can work on creating some distance by getting two points tonight against the Atlantic Division-leading Florida Panthers at BB&T Center.
The Red Wings, who are 5-5-0 in the past 10 games, are coming off a 3-1 win at Columbus on Thursday. They will have one of their core leaders return night.
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall missed the last three games after suffering a sprained right knee last Saturday against the New York Rangers.
“Well, first of all, he’s an elite leader,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s been a big leader for this organization for a long time, so I think having him in our lineup will be important. We’re still gonna evaluate after warmups, make sure everything’s good in terms of our D corps, but Nik’s a big part of our team, has been for a long time.”
Jimmy Howard draws the starting assignment against the Panthers. It will be just the second time this season that the veteran goalie has started in back-to-back games for the Red Wings.
He also got the win against the Blue Jackets, making 27 saves. Petr Mrazek was supported to start Thursday but he’s became ill earlier in the week. He’s still feeling under the weather, though he did participate in Saturday’s optional skate.
Still, Howard has been playing quite well, and the Wings have all the confidence in him to get the job done against the Panthers. In six career games against the Panthers, Howard has a 2-2-2 record with a 2.43 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
“He’s played real well lately, but he’s also got a resume that says he’s been a great goalie in this league,” Blashill said. “So no different than Florida, they’ve had two goalies be real good for them. It just seems to be in the league that it’s such a tight league you can’t afford any kind of letdowns, and certainly injuries and sickness and those things are a part of it. You have to have two guys that are gonna be impact players at the position, and Jimmy has been certainly lots this year and throughout his career.”
The Red Wings had scoring chances as Anthony Mantha and Gustav Nyquist each had early opportunities.
But it was the Panthers who took a first-period lead on a turnover in the Red Wings’ zone orchestrated by Jiri Hudler and Jakub Kindl.
While Kindl didn’t get an assist, he did figured in the scoring play when his shot from the left point was blocked by Kronwall. The puck deflected to the right faceoff circle where Jonathan Ericsson tried a clearing attempt but Nick Bjugstad held the puck in the side at the blue line and played give-and-go with Hudler.
Bjugstad then made no mistake, snapped a shot that appeared to glance off Howard’s left-catching glove and into the net for a 1-0 lead at 10:49.
Late in the period, Kindl gave the Wings the gift of a power play when he was whistled for hooking rookie Andreas Athanasiou deep in the Panthers’ zone.
Four seconds later, Tomas Tatar became the Wings’ second 20-goal scorer of the season when he tipped Brad Richards’ shot from the left circle. It was the Wings’ first power-play goal in the last four games.
DETROIT 1, FLORIDA 1
SCORING: 1. FLA, Bjugstad (Hudler), 10:49; 2. DET, Tatar PPG (Richards, Green), 18:25.
PENALTIES: 1. FLA, Kindl (hooking), 18:21; 2. DET, Abdelkader (high-sticking), 19:43.
SHOTS: Detroit 11, Florida 6.
The Panthers regained the lead which was set up by another turnover by the Red Wings. This time Pavel Datsyuk’s clear at the blue line hit a skate and the puck ended up on Jussi Jokinen’s stick. The Panthers’ veteran forward then spotted Vincent Trocheck breaking into the zone alone, and with an easy path to the net, he managed to slip a backhand shot underneath Howard.
Hard work on the forecheck led to the Panthers building a two-goal lead late in the period. Bjugstad picked up his second point of the game when he out-battled a Wings’ defender for the puck in the corner and slid a pass to Teddy Purcell out front. After a move to get around Mike Green, Purcell wristed a shot behind Howard for a 3-1 edge.
The Red Wings had two power play chances when Alex Petrovic went to the box on consecutive penalties for roughing and tripping late in the frame. They didn’t have success on the first opportunity, but Datsyuk found the back of the net with a fluttering shot from a scramble in front of Roberto Luongo with 10.1 seconds showing on the clock.
Darren Helm finished with period with a tripping penalty at the 20-minute mark.
FLORIDA 3, DETROIT 2
SCORING: 1. FLA, Trocheck (Jokinen), 7:08; 2. FLA, Purcell (Bjugstad), 12:48; 3. DET, Datsyuk PPG (Abdelkader, Nyquist), 19:49.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Smith (holding the stick), 9:48; 2. FLA, Petrovic (roughing), 15:17; 3. FLA, Petrovic (tripping), 18:36; 4. Helm (tripping), 20:00.
SHOTS: Detroit 12 (23), Florida 11 (17).
Sandwiched around Abdelkader’s 20th career fight, Dylan Larkin and Luke Glendening scored huge goals and Howard finished with 23 saves and the Red Wings capped a 4-3 comeback victory.
Larkin pulled the Wings even with a quick shot off a rebound surrendered off Luongo’s pads. The Panthers’ goalie made the initial stop on Ericsson’s shot but Larkin swooped in on the rebound and whistled a shot between Luongo’s left pad and the near post for the tying goal.
The goal gives Larkin a team-best 21 goals on the season.
Abdelkader and Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau slashed one another as they finished a shift in front of the team benches. The slashes escalated to fisticuffs and a pair of fighting majors assessed to both.
Moments later, Larkin helped put the Wings in front as his shot from the halfway was redirected by Glendening, who managed to change the flight of the puck before it beat Luongo.
Larkin now has 43 points, which is one shy of tying Zetterberg, who is the last Wings’ rookie to produce at least 44 points since 2002-03. That season, he finished with 22 goals and 22 assists in 79 games.
Datsyuk added an empty-net goal.
The win gives the Wings 83 points and a three-point cushion over the Flyers for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
DETROIT 5, FLORIDA 3
SCORING: 1. DET, Larkin (Ericsson, Kronwall), 3:52; 2. DET, Glendening (Larkin, Kronwall), 8:39; 3. DET, Datsyuk EN (Abdelkader), 19:23.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Abdelkader (fighting), 6:18; 2. FLA, Huberdeau (fighting), 6:18; 3. DET, Quincey (roughing), 15:21; 4. FLA, Jokinen (roughing), 15:21.
SHOTS: Detroit 7 (30), Florida 9 (26).
|Tomas Tatar celebrates his first-period goal in a 5-0 win at Columbus on Nov. 18, 2014. That was the last time the Red Wings had a lead at Nationwide Arena. (Photo by Getty Images)|
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Catch-up hockey is losing hockey.
Those words, made popular by a former Red Wings’ coach, were never truer than they are now for the Red Wings who have played less than five minutes – total – with a lead this month.
“I don’t know. It could be a lot of things,” said Justin Abdelkader, as he searched for answers Thursday morning. “I just think with us we gotta be a team that limits our turnovers. I think once we start turning pucks over we give teams opportunities to come back on us. We’re a team that if we can use our speed and our skating ability and get pucks behind defensemen and get pucks through the neutral zone, I think we can be a really good team. That’s just part of doing things right for 60 minutes.”
The Red Wings, who are in Columbus tonight, began the day as the No. 9 seed with 79 points, trailing Philadelphia by one point in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
In seven games this month, Detroit is 2-5-0, and its only lead came in the final 4:36 against Winnipeg after Abdelkader scored to lift the Wings to a 3-2 win over the Jets on March 10. Even in their 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers two nights later, the Wings trailed throughout until Darren Helm provided Detroit with its second straight comeback victory.
Unfortunately, those wins have been sandwiched by losses to Chicago (twice), Columbus, Toronto and Philadelphia where the Wings never led.
“You look at the shots, I understand how everybody says, ‘Oh, you didn’t start well.’ We started fine,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said, referring to Tuesday’s 4-3 loss at Philadelphia. “Our first 5-6 minutes were good. We had a chance in front of the net. I thought we had two opportunities to draw penalties that didn’t get called. That’s the way it goes. Once we got scored on, we got scored on right away again and we got on our heels a little bit. We gotta do a better job of being resilient in those situations. But to be honest with you, we’re looking forward to a big game here tonight.”
In recent seasons, the Jackets have caused fits for the Wings, posting a 10-2-2 record in the past 14 games, including 6-1-1 at Nationwide Arena against Detroit.
Jimmy Howard gets the start tonight against the Blue Jackets, who have lost four of their past six games. Howard has an 11-6-3 all-time record with a 2.00 goals-against average and .926 save percentage against Columbus.
Finally, the Red Wings scored in the first period.
Luke Glendening’s tip off of Riley Sheahan’s blast from the top of the slot was the first first-period goal scored by Detroit in six games. Gustav Nyquist tallied in the first during a 4-1 loss to Chicago at the United Center in March 6.
It’s also just the second time the Wings have played with a lead this month.
Playing in just his second NHL game, Anthony Mantha slid hard into the right goal post behind Jackets’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky late in the period. It appeared the rookie slammed his ribs in the metal post. He managed to skate slowly off the ice with trainer Piet Van Zant by his side. Once he reached the bench though Mantha headed straight down the tunnel to the Red Wings’ dressing room.
DETROIT 1, COLUMBUS 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Glendening (Sheahan, Athanasiou), 10:23.
PENALTIES: 1. CBJ, Karlsson (high-sticking), 7:28; 2. CBJ, Hartnell (high-sticking), 13:09.
SHOTS: Detroit 9, Columbus 5.
The Red Wings’ penalty killers were called into action to defend against a pair of Jackets’ power plays in the second period. Abdelkader, Glendening and Jonathan Ericsson all had clearing attempts that made it out of the defensive zone as Kyle Quincey and Henrik Zetterberg served back-to-back penalties.
Brendan Smith and Howard teamed up to make a big defensive stop on Nick Foligno late in the period. As the Jackets’ captain coasted down the right wing, Smith made a diving play from behind to disrupt the scoring chance. Howard still needed to make a heads-up play to cover the puck, which got knocked off Foligno’s stick, before it could cross the goal line.
Moments later, Foligno set up Scott Hartnell, whose rising shot hit a kneeling Howard in the shoulder. As the goalie flinched the puck rolled down his right arm and landed next to the left goal post where Hartnell battled with Mike Green. But Hartnell’s second attempt struck the side of the cage.
DETROIT 1, COLUMBUS 0
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Quincey (holding), 2:29; 2. DET, Zetterberg (interference), 5:12; 3. CBJ, Dubinsky (holding), 18:36.
SHOTS: Detroit 7 (16), Columbus 13 (17).
The Red Wings opened the period with 36 seconds left of a power play as Brendan Dubinsky served the rest of his holding penalty that carried over from the end of the second period.
With 14:37 left in regulation the Red Wings used their timeout ahead of a faceoff deep in the D-zone.
Zetterberg gave the Wings a two-goal cushion with 12:44 left, scooping a rebound over Bobrovsky. Abdelkader had the initial shot but the Jackets’ goalie gave up a juicy rebound for the Wings’ captain who collected his 13th goal of the season.
Dylan Larkin was credited with a secondary assist, giving him 41 points on the season and sole possession of 14th all-time on the franchise’s rookie points list. He’s one point shy of tying radio analyst Paul Woods, who produced 42 points in 1977-78.
Helm scored his third goal in his past three games to pad the Red Wings’ lead, 3-0, late in the period.
Howard was definitely a bright spot for the Wings, who were desperate for a win.
The win lifts the Red Wings back into the second wild card position. Detroit now has 81 points to the Flyers’ 80.
DETROIT 3, COLUMBUS 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Zetterberg (Abdelkader, Larkin), 7:16; 2. Helm (Glendening), 12:35; 3. CBJ Wennberg PPG (Atkinson, Jenner), 19:00.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Smith (hooking), 18:49.
SHOTS: Detroit 6 (22), Columbus 11 (28).
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).
DETROIT -- It's no easy task for the Red Wings this afternoon against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers are currently second in the Eastern Conference (and second in the Metropolitan Division) with 84 points and are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games.
As if that weren't enough, the Rangers welcome back three players: goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who missed the last three games due to neck spasms, Rick Nash, who missed the last 20 games with a bad bone bruise in his left leg, and Marc Staal, out the last two games with back spasms.
Against the Wings, Nash has 27 goals and 23 assists in 60 games.
The only one who won't play for the Rangers is Derick Brassard, who did not make the trip due to illness.
Brassard is second on the team in scoring with 50 points. Mats Zuccarello has 51.
"First of all, they’re a great team," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "They’ve had one of the best goalies in the league for a long time. But they’re a great team. They’re very good in the O zone so we’re going to have to have real good D zone coverage. I talked to you about yesterday, we’re going to have to be better in that area in general against these guys and second we gotta make sure we get to their crease. We talk about owning each crease. Own our crease and own their crease. We’re going to have to do that tonight."
Petr Mrazek will make his first career appearance against the Rangers.
"I think Petr played real good last game so hopefully he can come out and be real good tonight," Blashill said. "He’s been good for us for most of the year so we’ll need that same performance tonight."
Both the Pittsburgh Penguins, just ahead of the Wings (77 points) in seventh place in the East with 78 points, and the Philadelphia Flyers, just behind the Wings with 75 points, won Friday.
In the Wings' previous meeting with the Rangers, the Rangers won 1-0 in overtime on Feb. 21 in New York.
Lundqvist only had to make 22 saves so the Wings will have to make his life a little more difficult to be successful.
"He’s able to fight through traffic and their D do a good job of deflecting out so it’s not easy but we’re going to have to fight to get traffic and we’re going to have to fight to get seconds," Blashill said. "I think that’s an area we can get better at, making sure we get pucks and bodies to the net."
The Wings have talked about playing a 60-minute game and the final 20 minutes will be critical as the Rangers have scored at least one goal in the third period in 16 of their last 19 games.
The Wings and Rangers play their final game in the regular season in New York April 9.
The Rangers got the first shot on goal, Nash from the low slot in the first minute of the game.
It took a while for the Wings to get their first shot on net, Danny DeKeyser's from the left circle at 4:53 but then Darren Helm followed up with a quick rebound, tying the shots at 2.
Lundqvist was there for the stops.
Dylan Larkin hit the right post at 5:19.
Pavel Datsyuk, playing apart from Euro Twin Henrik Zetterberg, stole the puck from J.T. Miller behind the net and shot from the right side at 10:38.
The Rangers got the first power play of the game when Larkin was called for interference at 12:27.
Nash appeared to hit Mrazek in the face when trying to deflect the puck.
Mrazek went down briefly and trainer Piet Van Zant came out to check on him but Mrazek stayed in and the Wings killed off the penalty.
Lundqvist was tested again when Larkin found Jonathan Ericsson in the left circle.
Mrazek was able to stop Chris Kreider's shot but was out of position for the rebound. Mike Green tried to get in the way by Derek Stepan's shot went in the net with 48.5 seconds left in the period.
RANGERS 1, RED WINGS 0
SCORING: 1. NYR, Derek Stepan (16), Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello,19:11.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, minor, Dylan Larkin, interference, 12:27.
SHOTS: Detroit 15, New York 7.
It was all special teams, all the time to start the period.
Just 37 seconds in, Viktor Stalberg was called for hooking Larkin.
As the Rangers were about to finish killing off the penalty, Gustav Nyquist went to the box for interference.
With 47 seconds left on their power play, the Rangers' Kevin Hayes ended up in the box for hooking.
Neither team scored on their power-play opportunities.
Larkin's wraparound try went through the crease and out of harm's way at 3:59.
After Mrazek made a save on Jesper Fast at 8:53, defenseman Niklas Kronwall was injured when he was caught between Mrazek and Andreas Athanasiou.
Athanasiou and Brad Richards had to help Kronwall off the ice.
With 3:54 left in the second, the Wings announced that Kronwall would not return due to a lower-body injury.
Krieder had a partial breakaway at 11:30 but Mrazek was able to make the save.
Lundqvist had a nice glove save on DeKeyser's shot at 11:46.
The last time the two teams met, Lundqvist only had to make 22 saves, which included overtime.
With more than four minutes left in the second, the Wings already had 22 shots. But Lundqvist had stopped all 22.
RANGERS 1, RED WINGS 0
PENALTIES: 1. NYR, minor, Viktor Stalberg, hooking, :37. 2. DET, minor, Gustav Nyquist, interference 2:36. 3. NYR, minor, Kevin Hayes, hooking, 3:49. 4. NYR, minor, Mats Zuccarello, roughing, 12:21. 5. DET, minor, Brendan Smith, elbowing, 12:21.
SHOTS: Detroit 9 (24), New York 10 (17).
There's a reason that Lundqvist and Montreal's Carey Price are considered the top two net minders in the league.
Lundqvist continued to make his case, stopping Abdelkader at the right side of the net and Kyle Quincey from the high slot, until 4:28 of the third.
Luke Glendening tapped the puck ahead to Helm who lifted it top shelf over Lundqvist on the Wings' 27th shot of the game.
DeKeyser got the second assist.
Larkin tried using his speed again at 12:43 but Lundqvist made the stop and prevented Abdelkader, who got tangled up with Nash, from getting the rebound.
Fast was called for hooking Tomas Tatar at 7:52 and the Wings had two good chances, one by Datsyuk, but Lundqvist stopped them both.
Helm came hard on the rush at 12:22 but Lundqvist stopped that shot and Glendening's rebound attempt.
Abdelkader went to the box for goaltender interference at 14:18 and the Rangers made them pay.
Keith Yandle's shot from the right point was deflected by Kreider in front at 15:33. Zuccarello got the second assist.
The Wings pulled Mrazek for the extra attacker at 17:50, just before Eric Staal was called for holding.
With 6-on-4, the Ranfgers had two chances to hit the empty net but hit the post once and missed the net once and hit the post.
Richards, the former Ranger, buried the rebound with 31.8 seconds left to tie the game.
The Rangers challenged it because of goaltender interference but the goal stood.
RANGERS 2, RED WINGS 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Darren Helm (9), Luke Glendening, Danny DeKeyser, 4:28. 2. NYR, PPG, Chris Kreider (15), Keith Yandle, Mats Zuccarello, 15:33. 3. DET, PPG, Brad Richards (9), Justin Abdelkader, Henrik Zetterberg, 19:28.
PENALTIES: 1. NYR, minor, Jesper Fast, hooking, 7:52. 2. DET, minor, Justin Abdelkader, goaltender interference, 14:18. 3. NYR, minor, Eric Staal, holding, 17:55.
SHOTS: Detroit ,14 (38) New York 4 (21).
It was an exciting 3-on-3 as both the Wings and Rangers had their chances.
Larkin had a breakaway at 1:35, but Lundqvist stopped him and then stopped Nyquist on a partial breakaway at 2:11.
Stepan had a chance at 2:48 but Mrazek made that save.
At 3:03, Datsyuk's shot went off of Helm and into the net for the game-winner.
Originally credited to Datsyuk, Helm got his second of the game and 10th of the season, from Datsyuk and DeKeyser.
RED WINGS 3, RANGERS 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Darren Helm (10), Pavel Datsyuk, Danny DeKeyser, 3:03.
SHOTS: Detroit 5 (43), New York 4 (25)
|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).