After two frustrating losses in Tampa Bay, Jeff Blashill shook it up. He took his lineup and adjusted it.
Detroit played one of the most complete games I have seen them play tonight. Athanasiou is starting to see more ice time, Brendan Smith played his ass off, Petr Mrazek stood tall, and the team altogether shut the door on Tampa. It was an encouraging skirmish in which Detroit did not allow Tampa to do anything. Good work by the coaching to make adjustments and optimize the lineup. Let's hope this momentum keeps building.
Onto the game breakdown!
The arena was electric. Playoff hockey is back in Detroit!
The Wings weren't generating a lot of shots on net, but the team was certainly buzzing early on. I was really enjoying their quick transitions and strong forechecking. Brendan Smith made his presence known when he absolutely pasted Cedric Paquette with a crushing hit.
Andreas Athanasiou and Tomas Tatar had a great look with an odd-man rush but Tatar missed the net. The fact of the matter is that the team had some serious hop in their step. Athanasiou made an absolutely filthy move to earn himself a scoring chance. He broke Jason Garrison. RIP:
Absolutely sick moves from Athanasiou pic.twitter.com/wCUNpvRdUB— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 17, 2016
Riley Sheahan had a real good period. He found himself on a breakaway with Tampa players hot on his tail, but Ben Bishop came up with a big save to keep it scoreless.
The Red Wings were gifted a 5-on-3 man advantage. They were unsuccessful in a pretty embarrassing fashion. Brad Richards couldn't get the puck into Mike Green's wheelhouse, and that pretty much doomed them. Tampa played extremely tight in front of Bishop, and the Wings looked as if they had no idea how to make room to get a shot through.
All-in-all, Detroit looked real good. They moved quick. They neutralized Tampa's speed with speed. Scoreless after 20 minutes. Detroit has the edge in shots 12-9. 5v5 shot attempts are 17-10.
The Wings picked up where they left off. The Zetterberg line had some huge chances right out of the gate which were followed up with a big 2-on-1 chance for Andreas Athanasiou and Tomas Tatar. Detroit got another extended look on the power play when Andrej Sustr took a penalty, then Victor Hedman shortly after. As you could guess, they didn't score. Alexey Marchenko took a hit from Vladimir Namestnikov which sent him wobbling to the quiet room. His head went right into the glass, so there's a good chance he sustained some sort of concussion. Not good.
For the first time in the series, Detroit opened up the scoring on an absolute rocket slapshot from Andreas Athanasiou. Great work by Joakim Andersson to setup the entire sequence:
Henrik Zetterberg hasn't been scoring, but that changed in the 2nd period. It was an odd goal - Hank tried cleaning up the loose puck in front of Bishop, the puck then went off his foot with no intention. The goal was reviewed by officiating and deemed legal. After that, Jon Cooper challenged for goaltender interference, but the goal still counted. Not sure how Cooper could believe there was any sort of interference on the play.
I really loved the way the team was playing from top to bottom, but the unsung hero of the night so far through 40 minutes has to be Brendan Smith. He made some spectacular plays in his own zone to help suppress any scoring chances for Tampa. Never scratch him again.
40 minutes in the books. The good guys lead 2-0, and have the edge in shots 23-12. 5v5 shot attempts are 35-18 in favor of Detroit.
Fortunately for the Red Wings, Alexey Marchenko returned in the third period.
Detroit did a great job at keeping up the pace. They didn't sit back and let Tampa build momentum. The power play remains to be a disaster. If they could have figured it out, scoring in this game would be off the charts. Really gotta get that sorted out if they want to make noise.
Highlight of the game for me: Petr Mrazek grabbing Brendan Smith and hugging onto him so he wouldn't retaliate against one of Tampa's players. Amrazing. See what I did there?
The Wings did their job in the third period. They shut down Tampa's attack without compromising their offense. They kept on the puck well, made great plays, and kept Bishop on his head. Petr Mrazek had a few fantastic saves to keep the score locked. That's all it took. At the end of the game there was yet another shitshow of fights, which included Brian Boyle giving Justin Abdelkader a chicken taunt for not fighting him. I think he's mad. Doesn't matter. You got shutout. Go live in a toilet, Tampa. Oh wait, Florida is a toilet!
Series is now 2-1, and Detroit has taken on some momentum. Petr Mrazek will get the starts from here on out, and he deserves it. He didn't see much action, but he did his job and so did everyone else. Mrazek was certainly the player of the game, but Detroit held Tampa to only 16 shots. That's a full-on team effort. Build on it. Let's take this series back.