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Game Recap: Jimmy Howard puts Red Wings on his back in 2-1 win over Rangers

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Can the Red Wings keep up the momentum from their Home Opener?

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at New York Rangers Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Red wings shook off a horrible start to the season with a commanding win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday. Tonight they were at Madison Square Garden to face off against Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers.

Jimmy Howard and his awesome all red pads made their first start of the season. As this was a Wednesday “Rivalry Night” game, it means the following: 1) we get a late start at 8 PM; and 2) we have to endure the horrible national commentary. On another note, the term Rivalry Night could also apply to the Presidential Election, which I attempted to watch at the same time as the game.

First Period

The Wings got off to a horrible start to the game, allowing the Rangers a goal at 1:09 into the period. Mika Zibanejad took advantage of a hard shot from the point by McDonaugh and redirected it into the net. My first thought: this can’t be good for Jimmy Howard. My second thought: Chris Kreider continues to make things happen for the Rangers. My third thought: Jonathan Ericsson’s is useless.

The Wings seemed to shake off the disappointment of the early goal pretty quickly and spent a lot of time in the Rangers’ zone cycling the puck really well.

There was a lot of back and forth for the majority of the period. At 14:31 Tatar marched into the Rangers’ zone and sent a wrist shot into Lundqvist’s glove. Shortly after, at 11:02, the Rangers intercepted a pass from Ouellet, which resulted in a 2 on 0 with Zuccarello and Hayes. Luckily for the Wings, Hayes went wide and missed.

At 5:03 a Nielsen shot from the blue line created a great rebound but Lundqvist was there to make the stop. Just as the period was coming to an end, the Rangers threatened again but Zuccarello hit the post, phew!

The Wings finished this period with 7 shots to New York’s 14.

Second Period

Unfortunately my Game Center feed lagged for the first minute of the game so I only tuned in as the Wings were on a power play. The PP was lackluster, in fact, they gave up a terrible breakaway to Grabner. He tried to get the puck in between Howard’s pads, but was stopped. As the PP ended, Nash jumped out of the penalty box and got ahead of the play to face Howard solo. Howard stopped Nash and quickly recomposed himself to also stop a rebound shot from Zuccarello. At this point, Jimmy Howard was the reason why this game isn’t 5-0.

Shortly after this disaster PP, Clendening took down Helm and Detroit went back on PP. Side note, Clendening and Glendening is terribly confusing. I’m not joking when I say that I completely forgot that the Wings had a PP because that’s how underwhelming their play was. Just as I was getting ready to write this PP off, our newest star player Vanek scored with a perfect redirection from Nielsen. The new guys are alright!

The Wings had a bit of bad luck around the middle of the period. Larkin took a hard hit from Zibanijab behind the net, which slowed him way down and resulted in a penalty for too many men. Halfway into the PK, Glendening took a hooking penalty, resulting in a 5 on 3. The Wings were able to kill off the first penalty, and before they could kill off the second, Smith took a holding penalty against Kreider, and sent the Rangers back to a 5 on 3 for 7 seconds. Are you shaking your head and rolling your eyes? I was.

Somehow, the Wings managed to kill off all 3 of those penalties - not an easy feat. Shortly after, DeKeyser had a chance in front of Lundqvist to end the tie but failed to score because, well, it’s DeKeyser.

The Rangers went on a furious run near the end of the period but Howard remained unshaken. Seriously, the second period could have been called the Jimmy Howard Show. He made incredible save after incredible save within seconds.

Shots on goal at the end of the period were 14 to 26 in favour of the Rangers.

Third Period

Under a minute into the third period Drew Miller improbably puts the Wings ahead. Glendening did the hard work and was able to pick the puck off Lundqvist’s stick as he came out of the net to play it. The fourth line really shined today, especially as many of them were on PK duty a lot and did a great job.

The Wings’ hot play continued as Nielsen threw the puck at Lundqvist’s body trying to create a rebound for Sheahan, but Sheahan wasn’t able to take advantage of the chance.

The Wings’ badly timed penalties continued in the third as Marchenko picked up a penalty for hooking, giving the Rangers their fourth consecutive PP. At this point, I’m wondering how many chances you give the Rangers before they score. It’s worth mentioning here that Rick Nash was screening Howard hard during the PP. It’s so crazy to see how much his stock has declined.

The Wings’ performance during this PK was unreal. They had many short handed chances and completely shut down the Rangers. Miller and Glendening continued their PK domination and even had a 2-1 chance. Just when I thought that they were playing with fire by getting more penalties, they completely prove me wrong and kill this one even better than the first three.

Halfway through the period Kreider received a penalty for roughing. Halfway into the PP, J.T Miller received a penalty for high sticking, sending the Wings to a 5 on 3. The Wings just couldn’t get their game going during the PP. They had terrible entry into the zone, they were slow and their passes predictable. Needless to say, they wasted their 5 on 3 opportunity.

Right after the PP, Zibanejad walked in front of Howard without much resistance from the Wings’ defence. He made a few dangles to get Howard to move but Howard didn’t bite. “How many of these does he [Howard] have to stop?” asked the announcer. We’re all asking the same thing!

With 3:40 left in the period, Jesper Fast gets the puck behind Howard, but it was immediately apparent that it was a high stick.

The Rangers were furiously attacking Howard and the Wings but Howard was able to keep the Wings ahead.

At 1:28 Lundqvist headed to the bench so the Rangers get an extra attacker and an empty net. A faceoff forced Lundqvist back in the net until just under a minute. The Rangers got about 50 seconds with a sixth attacker and empty net but were unable to convert it into a goal.

Red Wings Win!!!!

Conclusion

Ultimately the Rangers probably deserved a better fate but Howard did play his butt off so I think he deserved the win.

What’s glaringly apparent to me is that the Wings are a long way from the puck possession team we used to know. Watching them bumble around is frustrating and at times painful. I understand that there are growing pains anytime a team has young players, but frankly, there are clueless veterans on this team that make a good chunk of the mistakes. Also, I was shocked at how little I heard Nyquist’s name during this game.

I desperately hope that the Wings get into a groove and start playing with more consistency.