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Red Wings drop the ball on New Year's Eve, lose to Penguins 5-2

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit welcomed the Penguins into town for the last game of 2015. Detroit was coming off two ugly losses in the midwest and looking to prove they don't suck. Pittsburgh was coming off a loss to Toronto the previous night and also looking to prove they don't suck. Detroit failed to prove much of anything positive by the time this game came to an end.

First Period

Things started off with both teams sharing a few rushes each, the Penguins getting a few chances. At one point, Datsyuk fed DeKeyser on the back door for a wide-open net that DK missed, but the Wings kept pressure on. Finally at 6:47, Justin Abdelkader gets the Wings on the boards by sweeping up a loose puck created by a speedy Larkin wraparound that ended up on the back door of a sprawling Zatkoff.

Letang and Glendening took matching minors for roughing and Slashing about halfway through the first. Playing four on four paid off as the Wings put out Tatar & Nyquist in front of Smith & Marchenko only to have the young foursome set up a net-front scramble that Smith forced through Zatkoff on a rebound from a well-placed Marchenko shot.

The Penguins didn't push back much after that. Overall a good period for the Wings

Score: 2-0 Wings
Shots: 11-10 Penguins

Standout Players: Larkin, Smith, Marchenko
Tough Period: DeKeyser, Zetterberg

Second Period

We got 15 seconds into the period before Danny DeKeyser took a hooking call off a defensive zone draw. The power play lasted barely 30 seconds before Hornqvist pushes into Mrazek on a rebound and the Wings' goalie backheels it into his own net while trying to recover. Blashill challenges the goal and loses his timeout. Detroit would get their own power play opportunity at 2:35 on a Letang slash, but nothing doing for those two minutes...

Letang wasn't done taking penalties in the 2nd period, as he took a cross-check 8:28 in. The Wings' PP moved the puck well, but couldn't find the rebounds to score a goal. They also got robbed of a 5-on-3 chance when the refs decided to ignore a puck over the glass. Naturally, the next penalty was on the Wings, this one for interference against DeKeyser. Also naturally, the Penguins scored to tie it; who else but Letang?

The Penguins got the puck into the net a third time in the period, but it didn't count because Patric Hornqvist is only allowed to jam the goalie into the net so many times and he had run out of punches on his card. Pittsburgh got a third power play chance late in the period as Larkin jumped on for Nosek and played the puck way too early. This one was on Larkin rather than the bench. The Wings escape the period with 17 seconds left of the PK, trading Glendening for Perron with just five seconds left thanks to an uncalled interference that escalated into matching minors.

Score: 2-2
Shots: 28-23 Penguins

Standout Players: Nyquist
Tough Period: DeKeyser, Glendening

Third Period

The third started off looking a bit more like Detroit was playing back-to-back, but they slowly found their legs and Smith made a great read to jump up on a play inside the Pittsburgh blue line that led to a Phil Kessel penalty. Unfortunately, the PP stole momentum instead of giving it. Shortly after that ended, the Penguins' forecheck created havoc that Crosby cashed in on with a highlight reel knuckler over the shoulder with just under eight minutes gone.

Moments later, Malkin makes it 4-2 on a pass from Kessel across the slot that gets ripped into the net. From this point, the Wings just kind of fall apart as they go stupidly chasing opportunities and sloppily trying to skip steps to getting out of their own end, creating no good chances in front of Zatkoff, but giving Petr Mrazek plenty more work to do.

The Wings pulled Mrazek with about four minutes to go. During the zone time, Abdelkader and Kunitz got into a scuffle to make it 4-on-4.  Fortunately, Detroit is really good at scoring 5-on-4, so pulling the goalie was ahahahaha whatever. Letang hits the empty net off a faceoff win just outside the Penguins' zone.

Score: 5-2 Penguins Final
Shots: 37-35 Penguins

Standout Players: Joakim Andersson
Tough Period: Sheahan, Kronwall, fucking everybody, Blashill.

Observations

  • Special teams are a real big problem. The power play looked better, but results are what's important and they're not producing those. Two goals to a bad power play and no goals for their own bad man advantage unit. It's basically 1/5th of the game that they're essentially forfeiting with bad special teams play.
  • Aside from the transition going too slowly, the gaps between the forwards and defensemen are too large. When you're entering the zone and the defensemen aren't particularly close behind you on the entrance, it allows the defenders to play differently, staying in front of the player and denying rush shots.
  • Niklas Kronwall has got to stop hitting shins. The rest of the team does too, but Kronwall is especially bad about getting his shots blocked.
  • Detroit scored two goals tonight by crashing the crease and then spent the last 40 minutes avoiding it like it was full of poisonous bee spiders. Meanwhile Patric Hornqvist was daring the refs to call anything on him while creating offense for the Penguins.
  • Tomas Nosek is more noticeable than Joakim Andersson.

Player of the Game: Justin Abdelkader