Hello folks and welcome back for another edition of Red Wings hockey!
I sure am glad to finally start wrapping up this nightmare portion of our schedule. This stretch of 7 games has taken its toll on the Wings. Entering this afternoon’s game against the Caps we had gone a dismal 0-4-1 in our last 5. Granted, each of the teams we’ve played is gunning for the President’s Trophy, save St. Louis, but still. And think about this: when the puck dropped at 2:00PM this afternoon against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals, the Wings had only 25 hours before they’d be facing Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Oy vey.
The only hope I had for this game resided in two “factors”.
1) The Capitals haven’t played in a full week, so perhaps that time off has made them a little rusty.
2) It’s 65 and sunny here in southeast Michigan. I went into this one hoping and praying that’s a good omen of sorts. To beat this team, we were in need of all the help we could get.
So how’d that work out for us?
I guess this one started about how you’d expect. The Capitals immediately controlled the puck and forced Mrazek to make a great save after an Ovechkin shot rebounded to Backstrom in the slot. However, the Wings were able to clear the puck and had a nice chance at the other end thanks to Anthony Mantha.
You got the sense that the Capitals were trying to ease themselves into this one but the Red Wings weren’t really able to take advantage of the slower pace at first. There were multiple times when the Wings put themselves offsides or weren’t able to execute in the offensive zone.
But just under 7 minutes in and the Caps were caught for holding and our powerplay went to work. The Wings spent the majority of the first 90 seconds getting things set up but once they did, the boys delivered. Zetterberg took the puck down the right side and flipped a backhand saucer pass to Nielsen who was waiting on the backdoor. Nielsen’s initial shot rang off the post but he was able to get a handle on the puck and send it past Holtby to give the Wings a 1-0 lead.
Just a few seconds after, however, Mantha was sent off for elbowing Oshie and the Caps were given a chance to even things up. The Red Wings were up to the task, however, and preserved our 1-0 lead.
On the next zone entry Athanasiou and Zetterberg found themselves on a 2-on-1. AA had the puck on the left side, looked to pass but pulled back when Brooks Orpik took away his passing lane. AA nearly had Holtby beat on the short side but he managed to get just enough of Athanasiou’s shot to deflect it up and out of play.
With time winding down in the first period, I was pleased with how the Wings came out to start this game. They settled in early on and even managed to take advantage of a rare Capitals mistake on the powerplay. When the game started it seemed like the Caps would take over once they got going but the Wings matched them shot-for-shot entering the last 5 minutes of the period.
The period wound down with the Wings continuing their strong play. With 36.7 seconds left Riley Sheahan was called for playing the puck with his hands off a faceoff. But upon watching the replay it looked as though Sheahan played the puck with the butt end of his stick, not his hand directly. As with all close calls that go against the Wings, Mickey Redmond was furious with the call and made sure all of us FSD views saw the play from multiple angles.
Regardless, the Wings killed off the first 30 seconds of the penalty and got to the 2nd period up by 1. Superb period for the Wings, one of the best I’ve seen them play all season. No, seriously.
Shots (on goal):
DET: 23 (10)
WSH: 13 (10)
Thankfully for the Wings, we managed to kill off the rest of the Sheahan penalty to start the 2nd. The boys came out ready to play and it was evident. Anthony Mantha, who’s having himself quite the game, took the puck off a Capital at the offensive blueline, dished to Zetterberg on a 2-on-1, Zetterberg left the puck for Tatar who put the puck past Holtby to double our lead.
Gorgeous play for the Wings.
The Capitals came back swinging after the goal but the Wings weathered their attacks time and again despite being hemmed into the defensive zone for a few shifts.
But the Wings’ fortunes changed soon after. Tom Wilson was sent off for roughing 8 minutes into the period and the Wings were given a chance to really put a stranglehold on this game. Which they nearly did, the Wings had quite a few chances in front of the net that just wouldn’t go in. We didn’t generate a shot on goal but definitely appeared dangerous.
With 6 minutes left the Capitals had Petr Mrazek down and out of the net following a shot but Xavier Ouellet was the first one ot get to the puck and cleared it away. The Wings came right back down the ice, Darren Helm and Athanasiou put together a nice set of passes that nearly lead to another Wings goal.
Things were going fine until the Capitals finally broke through with just 90 seconds left in the period. A neutral zone turnover lead to a quick goal for the Caps, the Wings keep their lead as we head to the 3rd but it’s still just a one-shot game.
Zach Sanford has goals in two-straight games. The Caps now trail 2-1. pic.twitter.com/voukZJfrOU— Ian Oland (@ianoland) February 18, 2017
2-1 Wings. We started the 3rd shorthanded after Danny DeKeyser took a hooking penalty as time expired in the period.
Shots (on goal):
DET: 41 (15)
WSH: 32 (21)
If you’d told me the Wings would be up 2-1 heading into the third period of this game today, I doubt I would’ve believed you. Yet, here we are. The Wings have played good enough in this game to win so far, but this last 20 minutes is going to be the toughest yet. The Caps are 19-2-2 in their last 23 because they find ways to win, even in games like this.
The Wings were able to kill off the rest of the penalty without much incident. An Ovechkin backhander rang off the post at one point but other than that the Wings kept Washington at bay.
There were a few times when either team could’ve changed the complexity of this game in the 3rd period. Vanek and Mantha had a couple of great chances to score and the Caps responded with a few of their own but the score remained 2-1 five minutes into the final frame.
With 11:30 left Athanasiou was called for hooking after he seemed to get caught a little flat-footed in the defensive zone. And with that, the Caps had a prime chance to tie this one back up. The Wings continued to stifle the Capitals’ attack and survived the Washington powerplay to stay up by 1.
But again, the Wings took another penalty with 8 minutes to go and would need to keep up their great work on the PK. And despite the Capitals’ best effort Petr Mrazek kept the Wings up with an absolutely ridiculous save.
The brilliant save by Mrazek to preserve the Red Wings' 2-1 lead pic.twitter.com/qOy0hADBmj— Ian Oland (@ianoland) February 18, 2017
Mrazek’s been good and lucky today. When he’s both he’s tough to beat, even on a sequence like this.
Until something like this happens. Another turnover in the neutral zone and a juicy rebound that Mrazek gave up resulted in a Washington goal. 2-2, tie game. Winnik looked like he hit it in out of the air and past Mrazek.
After playing a solid 55 minutes, that’s a tough goal to give up in the waning moments of the game.
Going into the last 5 minutes, the Wings would have to figure out how to take the play to the Capitals again. They hadn’t done much in the offensive zone since the start of the period and now needed to get at least another goal.
With 56 seconds left Ott and Orpik dropped the gloves for a bout where Orpik leveraged his size advantage quite a bit and beat the hell out of Ott for the better part of a minute before dragging him down to the ice.
Brooks Orpik actually fought! pic.twitter.com/NbiGxlA1Zv— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) February 18, 2017
That’s how the 3rd period ended.
Shots (on goal)
DET: 52 (22)
WSH: 49 (32)
On the first possession for the Capitals, Tatar had his stick broken and Larkin lost his but Petr Mrazek bailed the team out with a nifty glove save on a John Carlson slapshot from the slot.
Helm was tripped up on a rush for the Wings that looked like it might’ve been a penalty but went uncalled. The Capitals peppered Mrazek with shots from Williams, Ovechkin and company but Petr stood tall in net time and again.
The Caps definitely had the better chances in the extra frame, neither team was able to convert and we went to a shootout.
Thomas Vanek shot first for the Wings and stayed a perfect 5/5 in the shootout this year with another nonchalant goal. Oshie and Nielsen were both stopped on the next two attempts, but Kuznetsov’s slick backhand goal tied things up after two rounds.
In round three, Jeff Blashill tapped Andreas Athanasiou to put the Wings ahead. He raced down the ice, faked to his backhand, went forehand and just sent to the puck wide of the net. That sent Backstrom up to the line with a chance to win the game for the Capitals but Mrazek fought off his shot to keep things alive.
Tatar and Connolly both missed on their next attempts and Zetterberg came back on the ice for his attempt. The captain preserved his perfect shooting percentage in shootouts this year with this sick goal to put the Wings up by one and the Caps up to shoot.
Henrik Zetterberg with the filthy shootout winner for Detroit pic.twitter.com/Dl3Gn61qpA— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 18, 2017
At that Barry Trotz sent out his captain needing a goal to keep things going. Ovechkin came in on the left side, broke in front of the net and tried to put one past Mrazek but Petr fought the puck off enough to keep Ovechkin off the scoresheet and seal a win for the Wings.
The Wings win their first in 6, 3-2 over the NHL-leading Capitals.