The Detroit Red Wings had the honor of playing its third outdoor game, this time against a once-fierce rival Colorado Avalanche. Despite NBC's constant attempts to re-Kindl — I mean, re-kindle the old rivalry, it just isn't happening, much less with the two teams as currently constituted.
The big boys on the site were in the stands, so they left the recapping to me. Let's get to it, shall we?
I must confess that I haven't been able to watch the Red Wings much this season due to changing life circumstances. But the last game I was able to watch start to finish was the game against the Boston Bruins on NBC, where faceoff wins mattered quite a bit. So it's fitting that the next game I watch in full starts off with Tomas Tatar opening the scoring off a faceoff win. Mike Green picked up the puck and fired into some shins, got it back and got the shot through. Tatar picked it up on the far post, wrapped it around, picked up a second rebound and potted it home from the circle.
Detroit doesn't seem to like leads though, and Nathan McKinnon tied the game shortly thereafter. Alexei Marchenko pinched in and failed to keep the puck from getting past him. No forward was covering, but there was no pass as McKinnon took the shot on the wing off the rush. I'm kind of torn as to whether Petr Mrazek should have had it, but it was a pretty well-placed shot for sure.
Colorado would take a 2-1 lead later in the first off Tyson Barrie walking in uncontested from the point. The Avalanche rushed the puck into the Detroit zone and got stopped at the half wall. Barrie found wide open ice in the middle of the zone because Brad Richards was out in no-man's land. Barrie got a pass from the wall and took his "breakaway" in stride and deposited the puck behind Mrazek, who was swimming because of some players in his crease. Despite another Jeff Blashill coach's challenge, the goal would stand and Colorado would take the 2-1 lead into the intermission.
Standouts: Tomas Tatar, Pavel Datsyuk
Try again later: Brad Richards, the power play
Are we sure they played a second period? It may be the dizziness talking, but I remain unconvinced the second period actually took place.
The second period did feature more special teams, as Detroit killed off both penalties it took, the first a Danny DeKeyser high-sticking minor and the second a — drumroll, please — too many men on the ice penalty.
Standouts: Petr Mrazek, the penalty kill
Try again later: the power play
I discovered during the third period that they actually used cotton to pose as snow for this game, which is all kinds of hilarious to me. The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks didn't do any gimmick like that at Dodger Stadium, and the world kept spinning.
Detroit leveled the game early in the third off a sweet backhand from Gustav Nyquist.
Absolute beauty. That's a way to try and snap a cold streak.
The scoring party was far from over. Darren Helm chased a puck in the corner and fed it in front. Justin Abdelkader crashed the net and was right there when Helm fed it in front. A little chip shot found the back of the net for the Red Wings' first lead since it was 1-0.
Detroit has had a difficult time in the shifts following a goal for, however, and the next sequence was about as bad as it can possibly get. The goal scorer Abdelkader stayed on the ice and ended up taking out his own goaltender, giving Alex Tanguay more than enough time and space to tie the game at 3-3.
Hockey's a 60-minute game, however, and nothing hammers that point home more than late goals. After abandoning the defensive zone in the first period, Richards redeemed himself in the third. Niklas Kronwall fired a shot from the point which Semyon Varlamov had trouble with. The rebound went right to Richards at the side of the net, and from a terrible angle, he chipped it behind Varlamov, and the puck landed in the net behind the goal line with exactly 1:00 remaining on the clock for a 4-3 lead. Helm salted the game away with an empty-netter, and the Red Wings walked away with a rivalry epilogue win.
Standouts: Dylan Larkin, Darren Helm, Gustav Nyquist
Try again next game: the power play, the defense
- I'm sure many of you were consuming adult beverages as the game was going on. NBC surely didn't have to exacerbate the effects by using their 20 million different camera angles.
- That first Detroit goal happened right after Eddie Olczyk was talking about the yin and yang of blocked shots. Colorado led the league in the stat, and for once, the NBC broadcast team has something intelligent to say on the matter, highlighting how blocked shots can be nice, but not spending so much time in your own zone blocking all those shots is nicer. Cue a blocked shot off a Green attempt, then the Tatar goal happened.
- Colorado's second goal shouldn't have counted. Carl Soderberg went into Mrazek's crease, then Larkin followed him in. But when Mrazek came out to challenge, he had to move his skate to avoid Soderberg, which sounds like textbook "preventing the goalie from playing his position" to me. That should have been no goal, no penalty according to the NHL's standard of enforcement. Maybe Mrazek should take a page out of Carey Price's book and go for the contact rather than the save.
- The reason the fake snow was an issue in the first place was because the wind picked up as the game went on, and it carried the cotton onto the ice. Thankfully, it didn't delay the game much in the third.
- For most of the game, Detroit players weren't connecting on any sorts of passes. Guys were making them to places where no teammates were, and when passes should have connected, the targets weren't ready to handle the puck.
- The rivalry may be long gone, but it still feels really sweet to get this win against the Avalanche.
We didn't get the weekend sweep, but the Red Wings got the win that ultimately matters more in that pesky little thing called the standings. On to Dallas on Monday.