The Wings headed into Madison Square Garden for their first game of the season against the Rangers. Detroit came in riding a three-game losing streak and reeling from blowing a lead against Ottawa on Saturday while the Rangers have won seven of their last ten games, coming in rested.
The Wings got off to an odd start as the Rangers got a near-chance immediately and then a power play just 1:11 in thanks to Ouellet chopping a guy's legs down trying to prevent a centering pass. The Wings kill that off and Howard makes a few huge saves in front before Larkin draws a Yandle hook for a PP that wastes two minutes without a shot. We got almost nine minutes in before the Wings registered their first real scoring attempt.
The rest of the period went a bunch more evenly as both teams traded some pretty good chances, the biggest coming from Brassard and Abdelkader. The Rangers still aggressively checked to break up transition, but the Wings found some holes to get up ice and overall did a pretty good job of limiting the counter-attack (though not perfectly)
Shots: 12-10 Rangers
Strong Players: Howard, Datsyuk, Pulkkinen
Tough Period: Ouellet, Abdelkader
The 2nd started off just about where the first ended. Detroit got the first PP of this period, as Helm put a bit of a late hit on JT Miller at center ice and Brassard got himself the penalty for retaliating. The PP had a bunch of good looks, but couldn't find the back of the net. I'd like to complain about the next call going against the Wings, but Quincey got his money's worth on what was called a trip, but was one heck of a slash behind the Wings' net. Howard heard a ping on the PP, but the Rangers couldn't get the net.
In the second half of the period, Datsyuk found Zetterberg for an amazing chance that Z put off the pipe before Kyle Quincey decided he liked watching the team kill off his penalties so much that he'd test them again with another trip. Fortunately the PK does their job again. The rest of the period dies scoreless, but for the grace of Jimmy, as Xavier Ouellet fails to get the puck out of the zone five times on the same shift at one point.
Shots: 21-17 Rangers
Strong Players: Athanasiou, Datsyuk
Tough Period: Quincey, Quincey, Ouellet
Just over two minutes in, both teams traded really good scoring opportunities that didn't connect, as Larkin-to-Nyquist missed and then Stalberg-to-Lindberg was saved. The Wings got a power play thanks to Tanner Glass cheating against Sheahan. Unfortunately, the PP couldn't get the defenders moving enough to get them out of the shot-blocking lanes and only one attempt got through on net (it didn't go in).
Before we got another whistle after the failed PP, the Rangers get a goal called off because Lindberg kicks Howard in the head, allowing a short-side goal from Hayes. Refs review and agree that kicking goalies in the head is bad. The Wings use their second chance to get Datsyuk a ringing post right before DeKeyser takes an interference call. During the PP, Yandle skates into Glendening and they take matching minors to keep it 5-on-4. Two minutes after the first call, we go back to even strength.
The weird third period reffing would continue shortly thereafter as Girardi takes an elbowing call on Zetterberg in the corner of the Rangers' zone to send the Wings back to the PP. Naturally, it was bad. Next up, with 5:25 left in the game, Green and Smith get too far separated, giving Jesper Fast a breakaway that Green hauls him down on . Fast gets a penalty shot and Howard comes up huge with a blocker save to keep it scoreless.
Then less than two minutes later, Howard had to make a save even bigger than that on what became a 2-on-0 chance down low, cementing the fact that this was an early-season Mrazek game. The time slips away and the teams go to OT tied.
Shots: 28-20 Rangers
Strong Players: Howard, Datsyuk
Tough Period: Oullet, Richards, Green, DeKeyser
The OT period started slow and sloppy, but sped up quickly. Gustav Nyquist got a wonderful opportunity that Lundqvist barely stopped before it got picked out of the crease behind him and started the rush back up ice. Kreider gets it to Hayes to spring a 2-on-1 that finishes with a cross-ice pass to Klein that finishes the 1-0 Rangers win.
- The defensive problems were evident in this game again. Sure thing that the team put up a goose-egg for more than 60 minutes, but that's to Jimmy Howard's credit. The falling down, blown coverages, turnovers, and otherwise shitty play by the blueliners got heavily bailed out by the goalie. Xavier Ouellet was the worst player on the ice for either team and that confuses me because I thought he was really good, but he's got a string of stinkers building here.
- Brad Richards no longer belongs on a top power play unit and utilizing the players who are on that unit to make Henrik Zetterberg the guy setting up for one-timers at the top of the circle is the reason the Wings had four power play opportunities and the only shot on goal they managed was a bad-angle butterfly-humper of a wrister from Abdelkader.
- It feels as though Blashill has decided that, while the team can't exactly trust the goaltending, they're going to really push again for the low-event style. Unfortunately, the Rangers didn't seem to get the memo, as they put up 30 shots. It's not a horrible number, but the Wings only getting 22 is real bad. The Corsi count was a fairly close 41-36, but I think that highlights how much hesitation there was in the Wings' offensive zone play.
- To take a break from the overbearing negativity for a minute, the difference between a 1-0 OT loss and what could have ended up a 2-0 win was the Eurotwins ringing the pipe twice. I know the Rangers hit one too and there was the called-off goal, but I feel pretty good about how the Wings managed this game on the second night of a back-to-back against a well-structured team.
- I worry about Jeff Bashill's standard where he tends to completely shut down young energy-type players late in the game. I know they're more prone to mistakes but Athanasiou almost ended it in the third in one of only three shifts he got. It feels like every other shift is either Datsyuk's line or Glendening's line and I don't know if I want Datsyuk and Zetterberg leaned on quite so heavily right now. I think we're in a spot where we can give the kids some more responsibility.
Player of the game: Jimmy Howard
Up next, the Wings take on Columbus on Tuesday.