The Wings welcomed the Washington Capitals to the Little Caesars Arena for the first time on Friday night looking to end a two-game losing streak at the hands of division rivals by taking it out on a struggling conference rival with explosive offensive capabilities and an iffy defense (sound familiar?)
Well the first 39 seconds of the game was nothing but the Caps buzzing around the zone so wheeeee! (The next shift with Larkin’s line did the same thing in return so also wheeee!) Then later Jonathan Ericsson made a nifty move to escape pressure behind his own net and start a rush up ice that led to a chance, so this game is going to be weird.
The first power play of the game came to the Wings 7:05 in as Smith-Pelly takes down Glendening in the Wings zone and goes off for tripping. The power play was a waste of time though as the first unit couldn’t get a real clean look and the second unit looked like they had never met. Of course, after the expiration, the Caps brought pressure and created a Sheahan high-sticking penalty at 9:51. This one was real exciting as Mrazek had to make a huge cross-crease save on a nice setup to Burakovsky before also having to stop Kuznetsov after splitting the defense at the penalty’s expiration.
After some back-and-forth 5v5, the Wings headed back to the PP with 5:25 left as Helm gets a zone entry and dipsy-doodles Madison Bowey on the boards to draw a trip. This power play was also fruitless, but it didn’t make me want to rage-vomit, so I guess that’s nice. The puck movement is still just a hair too slow to find lanes around the PKers.
From that kill, the teams traded rushes but nothing particularly of note.
The Period in One Sentence: Like an empty banana hammock it was fun, but fruitless.
Shots: 14-12 Capitals (60% 5v5 CF% for Washington)
Standout Players: Mrazek, Ericsson, Larkin, Helm
Sitdown Players: Frk, Sheahan
The 2nd started stronger for the Wings than the first as the Zetterberg line kind of figured out that Tom Wilson might be the weak link on his line to be pressured. No chances, but at least they weren’t caved from the get-go. The Wings would go on the PK at 3:34 on a David Booth hooking penalty mere seconds after Nyquist just misses a prime scoring chance on a bouncing puck. This power play went very well for the Wings as Darren Helm picks off a pass at the top of the zone and gets Nielsen joining up ice to give him space for a snipe top corner from the circle to make it 1-0 Wings on his first of the season.
The rest of the Caps’ PP goes away, but it’s not long before they get another one as Frk gets a tough call by skating near Orlov trying to defend #43. The refs blow it down before we can see whether Helm would have finished and go back to the PK. It’s a real tough call to make on Frk all things considered. The Wings manage to kill this one, but Ovechkin was a machine gun aimed at Frk the whole time, peppering the Wings’ netminder with shots.
Coming out of the two PPs, the Caps kept pressure on in the Wings zone, forcing Mrazek to make a couple more really nice saves before the Wings could get the slightest pressure on in the Caps’ end close to 15 minutes in. We got some good chances back and forth, but within the last minute, the Caps create a good cycle and free up Burakovsky for a seeing-eye shot from the top of the circle that gets past a screen and beats Mrazek stick side high with 49 seconds to go to tie it at 1-1.
Andre Burakovsky hits the net AND SCORES. Caps tie it up 1-1. pic.twitter.com/aAptytZFIW— Ian Oland (@ianoland) October 21, 2017
Before the period ends, Helm draws another call in the offensive zone. The wings manage a few shots, but will carry over the power play into the third
The Period in One Sentence: The Wings were run by a cruel taskmaster in a boomerang factory shouting BEND DON’T BREAK.
Score: Tied 1-1
Shots: 11-9 WSH (25-21 overall) - still 60% 5v5 CF% for the Caps
Standout Players: Helm, Mrazek, Larkin
Sitdown Players: Ouellet, Frk, Kronwall
The third period power play didn’t start well and ended even worse as Green screws up with the puck all alone at the top of the zone and gives up a shorthanded breakaway to Jay Beagle that he finishes on the shot to make it 2-1 Washington.
On the very next shift, Hank does great work to create a scoring chance that Abdelkader flubs over the net.
The Red Wings are able to tie it at 2-2 on kind of an odd rush as Green passes behind Larkin, who spins and throws a pass that Tatar tips PERFECTLY high to the far corner.
What a crazy deflection goal by Tomas Tatar. pic.twitter.com/iZ5AtZrwFg— Ian Oland (@ianoland) October 21, 2017
On the next shift, the Wings keep the pressure on and draw another Brooks Orpik penalty, putting on a lot of pressure during the delayed call. Hooking is the infraction here. This PP got a couple good looks, including a few booms from Frk but nothing doing. Glendening almost got a breakaway chance after it was over though, so that was fun.
After another flurry of Washington chances that Mrazek comes up big for at about 11 minutes, Carlson takes a puck over glass penalty and the Wings get another shot at not failing on the power play... and it worked! The second unit got some looks, but the top line came out later as Hank fed a cross-ice pass to Tatar below the faceoff dot who one-timed it off the post and into the net to take a 3-2 lead for Detroit.
Washington’s bump-up shift came, but didn’t last that long as the Wings put pressure back on and almost made it a two-goal lead on another Abdelkader missed opportunity (his third of the game).
The Wings tried bending-not-breaking for a while, and were tested in how to do it shorthanded as Larkin put it over the glass for a delay of game with 2:43 left. That hurts double-time with Larkin having been one of the Wings’ better PKers so far this season too. Mrazek comes up absolutely huge 44 seconds in on another Ovechkin blast. and the teams start an extended disagreement vis-a-vis TJ Oshie’s smell being more like wet garbage or dry farts. After the Wings get a shot at the empty net, the Caps are able to get it back in and outman down low. Oshie cleans up the net-front and ties it 3-3 with 1:01 left.
The Wings did better for the last 61 seconds, but we end up tied. -
The Period in One Sentence: Crap so close.
Shots: 15-14 Detroit (39-36 Washington overall) - 55% 5v5 CF% for Washington
Standout Players: Helm, Tatar
Sitdown Players: Abelkader
The Caps get a power play 1:08 into the OT period as Ovi makes a hard cut to the get to the middle, falls down, and Daley gets called for tripping him. The Wings end up on a PK and that will end the game. Ovechkin with a one-timer from his circle nullifies what had been some good PK work by Glendening
Final Score: 4-3 Capitals
Man do you hate to watch your team lose games on bad calls even if you can objectively argue that Detroit cost themselves this victory more than the refs did (just one power play goal on five chances, the shorthanded goal against, and the PK letting them down late). I know expectations for the whole season aren’t high, but I’d be lying if I said this one didn’t suck the air out of me. What a bummer.
On the positives, I thought the Wings made good adjustments in what hadn’t been going well for them early on and were able to take advantage of where the Caps were specifically weak (like Tom Wilson or Brooks Orpik). I was really proud of the way Mrazek played. His rebound control could have been less-frightening, but he didn’t look as much like he was fighting the puck.
Martin Frk and Justin Abdelkader man my doghouse from this one. Frans Nielsen can guard their bowl from just outside, since he was pretty invisible.
Jonathan Ericsson actually played well in this game and I liked how dogged Dylan Larkin was in getting in Ovechkin’s face. He plowed over the big Russian a couple times in this game.
Still though, that sucked.
Next Up: The Wings welcome Vancouver to town on Sunday night