The Wings came in tonight on the brink of the All-Star break, and needed to collect some points to withhold their spot in the Atlantic Division rankings.
A big performance from Petr Mrazek, Darren Helm, and a few others lifted the team to a hard-fought win in Brooklyn. Let's get down to the good stuff:
I thought the Wings looked real good in the first. It's an odd matchup because you have a team like the Islanders who are really good at home, and then you have Detroit who is great on the road. If you ask me, I'd say that both teams played equally. Kyle Quincey continues to be a player that I just can't get into. I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt because of the operation he had, but man, it just isn't really an upgrade over a guy like Nick Jensen, who sat tonight. I assume they might be trying to build trade value, but I can't imagine there is much value-building you're going to be able to do.
One downside for Detroit in the first: They went 3-for-11 in the faceoff dot. Not great, especially when you're playing a fast team like the Islanders.
Fortunately for the Wings, they came out with the first goal, on the power-play (!!!!) from Brad Richards (!!!!). Richie just hacked at the puck, and it bounced by Jaroslav Halak:
(Hey, what the hell is it with the white SUV?)
Brock Nelson tied the game back up on an unfortunate giveaway by Tomas Tatar, which was a product of Jonathan Ericsson failing to play adequate defense (shocker!). That summed up scoring for the first period. The good news is that the Wings are still killing penalties efficiently without Drew Miller!
At the end of 20 minutes, shots in favor of New York (11-7), as well as 5v5 shot attempts (17-16.)
Detroit started the period one man down due to Mike Green's interference on Cal Clutterbuck. They killed the penalty, and in a very aggressive fashion. This might sound crazy, but the Wings PK looks better without Drew Miller. WEIRD, MAN. After the PK, the Wings looked much better, faster, moving the puck with more efficiency. They looked like a team who were starting to sync up with one another. It paid off, because they were able to score the next two goals. The first one came from Justin Abdelkader on a beautiful three-man breakout along with Henrik Zetterberg, and Dylan Larkin, who both drew assists (and remain tied for team-lead in points):
The next goal came about a minute later, Danny DeKeyser scores unassisted, but he actually kind of set himself up, which is awesome. Great play by DDK for his second goal in the last two games:
After scoring the two goals, the Islanders started buzzing again. They held the puck in Detroit's zone for what seemed to be a lifetime (probably about a minute-and-a-half in actual ice-time), and it forced Jeff Blashill to call a timeout to give his guys some rest. The highlight of the entire sequence was when Ryan Strome had a wide-open net, and decided to go for a slapshot, which missed completely. Very fortunate break for the Wings, and a very poor decision by a young player like Strome.
There wouldn't be anymore scoring for the rest of the period, and that's fine with me. I hate two-goal leads. Someone hold me.
The Red Wings outshot, and out-attempted the Islanders in that period. Shots on goal were 10-9, 5v5 shot attempts ended up 17-14.
New York came out fast in this one. They had Detroit pinned in their own zone for an uncomfortable amount of time, even though Detroit was able to clear the puck a couple of times. The Isles managed to steamroll back into their zone.
It was a chippy, questionably officiated period. The Islanders were able to come within one goal on a breakaway chance by Grabovski. At first it looked like Ericsson was interfered with, but in reality, he made a bad step on a guy he had no business stepping in on.
From there, it was all clenching. Petr Mrazek stood taller than clouds for Detroit, as per usual:
That's a big point-blank save to keep it close. Someone get this guy a ginger ale!
The Wings trapped down the rest of the game, and did a great job of preventing the Isles from pulling their goalie until it was a bit too late. Darren Helm made a great play using his speed which setup Luke Glendening for the empty-net goal which put this baby away.
The game ended with New York in control of shots (26-22), and 5v5 shot attempts (51-43.) Wouldn't read too much into it, though. They were playing to score for most of the game. Great effort by Detroit.
So! We have a nice, long break for the NHL All-Star Game. We won't be back in action until February 4th against the Lightning at Amalie Arena. The good news is that Detroit will stay at third place in the division for that entire duration of the break, despite a Bruins win tonight. More good news: The Montreal Canadiens are god awful.
Also, Eric Tangradi isn't better than Joakim Andersson.
Enjoy the break. Let's go Dylan Larkin at the All-Star Game!