The Red Wings came into this one looking to rebound after an embarrassing effort against the Oilers on Wednesday. Recently Madison Square Garden has been a home away from home for Jimmy Howard and tonight was no different. Unfortunately, as good as Jimmy Howard has been playing in New York, the home team’s goalie has been just a little bit better. That would be the case again tonight as both teams relied on their goalies at times in the game but it would be the blue shirts and Henrik Lundqvist that would come out on top, edging the Red Wings in overtime 2-1.
This was a period of almost. Right out of the gate the Red Wings came out with energy and hounded the puck. Tomas Tatar forced a turnover and threw a bad angle shot on net that almost caught Henrik Lundqvist leaning. Shortly after the Rangers almost get the early tally as Mika Zibanejad finds a loose puck in front of the net but as he is want to do in MSG, Jimmy Howard stood tall and fought it off to keep the game scoreless. After a little back and forth Trevor Daley threw a beautiful tape to tape stretch pass to break Dylan Larkin in all alone on goal. Larkin made a nice fake and went to his forehand but Lundqvist was with him the entire way and made the pad save.
The Rangers did not have the puck in the Red Wings zone a ton in the first, only registering six shots on goal threw the first 20, but when they did get into the zone they were able to move the puck with little resistance by the Wings. Ex-Red Wing Brendan Smith made a nice move to gain the zone at one point before promptly losing the puck and tripping Luke Glendening to put the Red Wings on their first of two, first period power plays (the second would come later against Smith again after Andreas Athanasiou did a really nice job hounding him almost all the way from the red line to the Rangers goal line). The power plays were ok, the Red Wings had some chances (the best coming on Gustav Nyquist taking a nice pass from Niklas Kronwall and splitting the Rangers defensemen before being stonewalled by Lundqvist) but there seemed to be a bit of indecision from the Wings as most of their shots on the power play were long range from the blue line that Lundqvist gobbled up easily. Anthony Mantha showed his growth and maturity right after the power play ended when he made a heads up play to knock the puck down in the Red Wings zone and push it ahead to Nyquist who broke in on Lundqvist but could not beat him high glove. Not 30 seconds before the play, Mantha had a bad turnover in the offensive zone that lead to the Rangers breaking out and being able to gain the Red Wings zone and put some pressure on. It showed a lot from Mantha to stay with the play and eventually make up for it.
The scariest moment of the first came when Trevor Daley out of the Red Wings zone and as he was cutting across the ice he saw Chris Kreider waiting for him. As he tried to stop or avoid him he appears to maybe toe pick and it caused him to fall awkwardly into Kreider. He stayed down on the ice in obvious pain before being skating off the under his own power. He would not return with what the Red Wings initially called an upper body injury. The last big chance of the period came the same as the first one, off of a steal at the blue line by Tomas Tatar. He made a nice feed across to Larkin who took the puck wide around the net, past a diving Henrik Lundqvist and out the other side. Unfortunately, a sea of blue in front of the net and probably one too many passes kept the Wings from scoring before Lundqvist got back into the play. That would be it for the first, as the teams would take the 0-0 tie into the first intermission.
New York came out of the break with a lot more energy and determination that the Red Wings simply were not able to match. Had it not been for some incredible goaltending by one James Tiberius Howard III they easily would have scored a few goals in the second. As it was, Mika Zibanejad was Jimmy’s first victim as a loose puck found him again, but Howard was there to deny him. Next up Mats Zuccarello was stopped then a loose puck from (#40) hit the inside of the post and squirted out the other side where Anthony Mantha was there to corral it and remove it from danger. Athanasiou played a very strong second period.
A shift after getting a puck swatted into his face a dumped on his rear, he came out and put immediate pressure on the Rangers before stealing the puck at the red line and headmaning it up to Tomas Tatar, who did a good job staying onside, before getting it back and rifling one on net that forced Lundqvist to make a slightly awkward looking kick save. The Red Wings seemed to be gaining a little ground and tilting the ice back to even, but then Darren Helm took a hooking penalty right out of the tv timeout and the ice tilted right back towards Howard.
The Rangers power play, which has been hot lately, looked really similar to the Red Wings first two. A lot of zone time and movement but nothing really dangerous. Apparently, they prefer to play at even strength as right after Helm came out of the box a couple passes and a Xavier Ouellet skate found the puck on Rick Nash’s stick all alone on the side of the net. Jimmy Howard was again to the rescue though as he was able to a toe on Nash’s shot and keep it out of the net. Nash decided to take his frustration out on Justin Abdelkader shortly after and crushed him along the board. More of the same as the Rangers continued to buzz and Howard continued to rob them. He got Kevin Shattenkirk with a leg save on a cross ice one timer. He stoned JT Miller point blank in the slot after a bad turnover by the Red Wings behind their own net and he got Brendan Smith on a one timer just above the faceoff dot. The Rangers flat out dominated the puck and the period but skated off the ice tied at zero after forty minutes thanks to an incredible period of hockey from Jimmy Howard.
The Wings came out better for the third as they pushed the play down into the Rangers zone. Henrik Zetterberg had a really good look at his first goal in 15 games as he grabbed a loose puck, walked into the slot and let a wrister go but again Lundqvist was there to stone him again. Athanasiou continued to make things happen, this time drawing a tripping penalty by Michael Grabner. The Wings power play moved the puck well again as Dylan Larkin found Athanasiou in the slot, but his blast missed the mark. The second unit would come on and finally break the scoreless tie. Off some very good puck retrieval by Justin Abdelkader, Henrik Zetterberg had a pass blocked right back to Niklas Kronwall who faked the point shot before sliding it to Tatar at the faceoff circle who ripped it short side through the Abdelkader screen and past Lundqvist for a 1-0 Red Wings lead.
Athanasiou continued his excellent game by forcing yet another turnover and getting in on Lundqvist only to be denied. Jonathan Ericsson made a nice play down low in his own zone to make a play while taking a hit as he got the puck out to Tomas Tatar who came in on a 2 on 1 and found Larkin trailing the play who blasted a shot but still unable to beat Lundqvist. The Rangers would finally find a way to get one past Howard off of a faceoff. Chris Kreider slipped one through Howard’s legs off the rebound to tie the game up. Immediately after the Red Wings kept the pressure on and earned another power play on a boarding penalty. Unfortunately, it would be short lived as Dylan Larkin made a good paly to split the Rangers and get in on the goalie but was forced into Lundquist by Brendan Smith and called for goalie interference. Nothing much happened on the power play and Larkin seemed to explode out of the box and was flying around the ice even more after the penalty. Nothing of real note happened for the rest of the period save for a 30 second stretch where Frans Nielsen, Mika Zibanejad and Brendan Smith all took hard hits along the boards. The horn sounded and this one headed to overtime.
The Red Wings won the draw and controlled the puck in the Rangers zone. Mike Green pushed down to and then around the net, causing Lundqvist to lose his stick. The Red Wings were not able to take advantage though and the game would end soon after. The Rangers pushed the puck up ice and Dylan Larkin’s aggressiveness may have hurt him a little on the final play. Danny DeKeyser, who had just gotten onto the ice as the Rangers began moving out of the zone, did a nice job closing down the rush and tying his player up. Larkin went in to try to knock the puck loose and head back the other way but missed and as such he left Mats Zuccarello all alone in front of Jimmy Howard who got the puck, took his time and roofed it over Howard to give the Rangers the 2-1 win in overtime.
-Not much more needs to be said about Howard tonight. He was outstanding and his second period is the only reason the Wings were in position to get a point tonight.
-Anthony Mantha did not play a ton down the stretch and while some may think it was Jeff Blashill continuing to ‘punish him” but Mantha did not really play bad tonight. It was more a case of the Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Tomas Tatar having really good games and gobbling up a lot of extra time.
-Speaking of Athanasiou, this might have been one of the best games he has played in a Red Wings uniform. He used his speed all game to pour the pressure on New York every time he was one the ice. The Rangers had no answer for his or Dylan Larkin’s speed as they both walked through defenders on a regular basis.
-Dylan Larkin will likely get some grief from fans for his aggressive play in overtime directly leading to the game winning goal. While it is probably one he will want back, it is only a bad play because he missed the puck. He saw an opportunity to get the puck away from New York and potentially catch them on a break and took it. Had he made the steal thinks probably turn out differently. I do not want to see him lose that aggressiveness going forward.
-This team is showing some signs of better things on the horizon despite the loss tonight. Their young forwards were their best forwards for the most part tonight and the used their speed to their advantage hounding the puck and forcing several turn overs right at the Rangers blue line. Unfortunately for them it was Henrik Lundqvist in net tonight so they did not have much to show for their efforts at times but when they push the play they can force good things to happen.