The Wings and Bolts met in Detroit on a Tuesday for the 2nd time this season. The previous time, Tampa was coming off a Monday matinee in Boston and wore down. This time both teams were rested and we saw a very close matchup between two teams who played generally well. The game came down to a few posts and to one goaltender outplaying the other. The Wings pulled it off 2-1 in a game they deserved to win.
Things started pretty evenly for both teams as they spent the first part of the first period feeling each other out before three power plays (on two weak calls and a too-many-men) in ten minutes disrupted the flow. Detroit had two of those advantages where they looked decent but couldn't find the net. Tampa got a few chances off Red Wings turnovers, including a surprising one by Dylan Larkin.
Overall, the game was close, but it felt like Bishop was worked harder than Howard. Most zone exits were fairly tidy, but not a perfect period.
Shots: 9-8 Detroit
Standout Players: Tatar, Kronwall
Tough Period: Larkin, Helm
The second started with Tampa getting a mysterious odd-man rush that Brendan Smith helped break up. This turned out to be a good idea, as a few minutes later Riley Sheahan opened the scoring on an outlet from Kindl to Tatar at center that got tipped to Sheahan. Sheahan batted it down to his stick and turned to the middle before sniping it from the slot past Bishop.
Things calmed down for a bit before heating up shortly about midway through the period as Dylan Larkin and Steven Stamkos had a little spat which created a 4-on-4 where the Wings got really lucky not to be scored on.
After that, things were going swimmingly until Brendan Smith took a tripping call, Andersson took a puck-over-glass call, and Kucherov tied it on the 5-on-3 advantage thanks to a short shooting gallery started by a Stamkos bomb off the pipe. The Wings got an abbreviated PP chance to retake the lead, but too few shots and too big a Bishop stopped that.
Pretty much a carbon copy of the first period for the Wings. They played better but couldn't come away with the lead.
Shots: 10-9 Detroit in the period, 19-17 overall for Detroit
Standout Players: Larkin, Sheahan, Marchenko
Tough Period: Andersson, Pulkkinen
The third was once again a prom night dance to start off with both teams feeling each other out until Dylan Larkin took a puck up the right side and slide it in through Bishop to put the Wings up 2-1 on a beauty of a play. Shortly after the Wings had to kill a Landon Ferraro penalty created by a veteran play by Tyler Johnson to skate into his path an take a fall.
From that point on, the third was a back-and-forth between Tampa pressing to tie it up and Detroit countering with some great periods of in-zone attack time. The defense didn't break and the Wings were able to come away with the 2-1 victory.
Score: 2-1 Detroit
Shots: 13-10 for Tampa in the period and 30-29 for Tampa overall
Standout Players: Larkin, Howard, Ferraro, Abdelkader
Tough Period: Ericsson
- - -
- I really liked the breakout and how the forwards supported the D to move forward as a 5-man unit in this game. Especially liked how aggressive the defensemen got to be in the offensive zone cycle with wingers covering them. That really helped prevent Tampa from developing transition play.
- Jimmy Howard tracked the puck very well in this game and stayed big in his net. He also got a bit of help from the pipes in this game, but call that lucky or call it good positioning; I don't really care. His job is to prevent goals and he didn't let in a softy like Bishop did.
- Both Justin Abdelkader and Landon Ferraro had excellent defensive games as wingers I felt. Both of them consistently got between Tampa players and the puck in such a way as to "cut off" their sticks, which helped the Wings get the puck up ice. Ferraro also had two rushes which canceled what would have been icing plays.
- Not to beat a dead horse here, but I really thought that the last three minutes were tough for the Wings because of Blashill's insistence on keeping the Glendening line matched up heavily to defend the lead. The Andersson-Helm-Pulkkinen line saw their last shift end with 9:52 left in the third period while Glendening played five shifts and 4:27 of the last ten minutes. Zetterberg played 3:49 and four shifts in that same period.
- All-in-all it's another case where we're just incorrectly calling Glendening's line the 4th. It's pretty clear that they're the Wings' third line and that Andersson-Helm-Pulkkinen was used as the 4th. Helm's line got pretty easy usage and took advantage of that by keeping play where it belonged.
- I thought the refs did a decent job of not becoming the story of the game, but I also think that's a factor of luck. The game wasn't called as well as it could have been.
- Dylan Larkin really makes things happen. I thought Tatar was very good with creating zone entries on the power play, though that gets diminished by the Wings' inability to score on the man advantage.
Player of the Game: Jimmy Howard (with Larkin as runner-up)
Next game is on Friday in Toronto. LGRW