Well, it wasn't pretty in the final 20 minutes, but we did it.
The Red Wings surged over the Montreal Canadiens for most of this game, absolutely dominating the game in all three zones. Out-skating, out-shooting, out-chancing, and just about everything else. They couldn't hold together a perfect game, as the Habs came out and scored three unanswered goals in the third period, but that just wasn't enough to lift the Montreal club over the Red Wings who are actually playing for something right now.
Here's the period-by-period breakdown of what the hell happened tonight:
Both teams seemed to come out gingerly. That's all I have to say about that. Montreal almost scored first, but the goal didn't count because the whistle was blown on a cross-checking penalty to Tomas Plekanec. It was a somewhat lame call, but I think the Red Wings will take it at this point. The power-play did a really great job. A great job at looking like garbage. Not even garbage, actually, the juice at the bottom of the bag. That is the Red Wings power-play.
The Wings managed to draw another penalty, but again, garbage juice all over the place. Niklas Kronwall gave Max Pacioretty a clear break because he lost his footing. Thankfully, Dylan Larkin caught up and broke up the scoring chance. I'm not sure why I'm thinking this, maybe it's my emotions, but Jonathan Ericsson seems to be more useful than Niklas Kronwall at this point. That is terrifying.
Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha have to be my standout players in that period. On one hand, AA skates. He's just so damn good at it. He is a master of controlled entries. On the other hand, Mantha shoots the puck whenever he has the chance and does it in an effortless fashion. If he keeps doing what he's doing then he's bound to score a ton of goals.
The Wings got on the board first on a goal from Riley Sheahan. Brendan Smith made a really slick move to keep the puck in Montreal's zone, which led to Mike Green setting up the rebound for Sheahan to pick up.
After 20 minutes, Wings lead 1-0. Shots are in favor of the Habs (13-11), while the Wings have control of 5v5 shot attempts (20-13).
The Wings came out on a mission in the second period. Neutral zone speed was unmatched by the Habs.
The transition game out of the defensive zone played a strong role in Detroit's success. Brendan Smith made a big hit to Stefan Matteau in the neutral zone. It was questioned to be a bad hit, but in my opinion, this is clean. Marc from EOTP had a good look at it:
Smith hit on Matteau pic.twitter.com/EIzd0TNzrE— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) March 25, 2016
This led to another unsuccessful Red Wings power-play, but once that was said and done the Wings opened up the flood gates with two quick goals. The first one coming from Luke Glendening, rolling his sleeves up, and getting down into the dirt. Shortly after, and I mean really shortly, like 12 seconds, Riley Sheahan got a clear break on Ben Scrivens and buried it for his second goal of the night:
The stick-lift that Datsyuk made in the neutral zone really put this one together. Beautiful play altogether.
The Red Wings haven't fared well on the power-play tonight (or this season), but believe it or not, they managed to get one that worked out. Anthony Mantha scored his first-career NHL goal to make it 4-0. A beautiful net-front presence to mark his first. Great work, Tony!
That would do it for scoring in the second period. Dominating period by the Red Wings. Not even close.
Wings hold control across the chart. Score is 4-0, shots are 32-18 after outshooting the Habs 21-5 in this period. 5v5 shot attempts sit at 46-23.
Aside from Mantha's first goal, the highlight had to be his grandpa's reaction to his first goal. Watch the full reaction here:
When you're an NHL legend, but your grandson just scored his first goal in the league: pic.twitter.com/BZXBS6QETH— Mitch Fick (@MCFick) March 25, 2016
Well, the Habs scored. Tomas Plekanec put his team on the board on a goal that Mrazek likely should have had, but Ericsson really flubbed the entire play. Rough way to start the final period.
The Habs scored the next goal to pull them within two on a goal from Paul Byron. Mrazek again caught fighting the puck, which led to a costly rebound. That's a routine save flubbed by him. Need to have those.
Montreal definitely came out like they have been getting pounced on all game. Max Pacioretty make it a one-goal game on a shot that deflected off of Kronwall's skate. Just like that, a sizable lead has been turned into a nail-biter.
So yeah, 4-3. Everyone is on the edge of their seats. No one is happy. Things are bad. The Red Wings managed to shut it down and play a safe game to close it out.
Wings win 4-3. Mrazek not his best, defense played well for 40 minutes, Anthony Mantha with the game-winning goal against the team he grew up watching. Let's enjoy the win. Shots ended up 40-29, Red Wings. 5v5 shot attempts all Red Wings as well (55-35).
The Red Wings are now within one point of the Boston Bruins after they dropped a 4-1 game against the Florida Panthers. Our chances at 25-straight years in the playoffs lives to see another day. Player of the game for me was Brendan Smith. He played his ass off tonight. Good on you, Smitty. Next up: The surging Pittsburgh Penguins. Let's do this.