After winning seven of their last nine games, the Wings seemed like a youthful team on the rise as of late, but this afternoon they came out looking like a jet-lagged squad. According the FSD crew, the team endured eight hours of travel from Ottawa to New Jersey prior to today’s game.
The Wings, who haven’t been the best at playing a good/exciting first period in quite awhile, certainly weren’t helped by their recent extensive travel schedule. But hey, it’s game day, suck it up and let’s go boys, right?
Well, in a perfect world, that typical rah-rah speech would work but today the Wings looked like the lackluster group we saw at the beginning of the season. Detroit didn’t register their first shot on goal until almost eleven minutes into the first period, and only managed to notch three more shots during the reminder of the opening period.
Darren Helm went down hard into the boards early on in the game and suffered an apparent arm/upper-body injury, he would not return to the game. Helm’s injury allowed Andreas Athanasiou an opportunity to play on the top-line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha. The trio only flashed once or twice but didn’t really generate much offense, but in their defense, nobody on the team really did early on.
The Wings spent nearly all of the first twenty minutes defending in their own zone and failing to create many scoring chances, they had two total scoring chances and six giveaways. A Pavel Zacha slap shot was quick enough to get by Jonathan Bernier and would be the only goal scored by both teams in the first.
I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall of the Wings locker-room during the first intermission because judging by the way they played in the first 30 seconds of the second period, something “inspirational” had to be expressed. Larkin came out jousting and laid a hard hit on Travis Zajac in the corner which led to nice little scrum. Not to be outdone, Justin Abdelkader tangled up with Damon Severson across the ice, each player receiving roughing penalties.
Detroit’s power-play was fairly flat and dull during the second, but the team generated much more offense than the previous period. They out shot the Devils 11-9 and managed to have seven total scoring chances. Gustav Nyquist had his fair share of chances with the puck during the first 40 minutes but seemed to have one of his unlucky games that seem to plague him from time to time.
Blake Coleman gave the Devils a 2-0 lead after a short-handed goal with four minutes left in the second, the goal was also New Jersey’s first SHG of the 2018 season. Luke Glendening got the Wings on the board with just a little over 90 seconds left in the period. The goal was made possible by a great heads-up play/assist from promising young defenseman, Dennis Cholowski:
The Wings continued to find their legs as the third period progressed. In one of the strangest things I’ve seen in a hockey game in quite some time, Athanasiou jumped in the media box between the benches to avoid a too many men penalty against the Wings:
Michael Rasmussen tied the game at two late in the third by doing what he does best, tipping in a puck from the top of the crease. Big Ras now has goals in three consecutive games.
The Wings looked like the hungrier and more dialed-in team during the overtime period. Bernier provided some solid goaltending while the forwards looked patient and set up some quality scoring chances. However, it would be Larkin and Mantha who would make a great effort/play to give the Wings the eventual game-winner:
So for the fourth time out of the last six games the Red Wings have managed to overcome a two-goal deficit to earn two points in the standings, not too shabby. You have to admire the team’s resilience and effort, as well some encouraging play from some of their hopeful youths such as Cholowski and Rasmussen. And you can’t help but notice watching Larkin evolve into the future captain of this young team.
Next up, the Boston Bruins on Thanksgiving Eve.