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Key Play Breakdown: Evgenii Dadonov’s game-winner against Detroit

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Florida Panthers v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Wings were on the opposite end of the results table from Thursday’s matchup where they were outplayed but won after Saturday’s tilt against Florida. The Wings carried play for the majority of the game, but couldn’t overcome a sloppy first period in which the Panthers got all the scoring they needed to win the game 2-1. Here’s the game-winner from Florida’s top line:

The Setup

Florida wins a faceoff in their own zone, but Keith Yandle can’t clear it up the boards past Trevor Daley at the point. As Daley kicks it to his stick, Dadonov pressures and forces the Wings’ defender to push it back up the boards where Yandle again punches it back up towards the blue line. Again, the puck doesn’t immediately get out as Larkin and Nyquist come to pinch, but lose the board battle to Dadonov while Huberdeau and Barkov start chugging up ice to force Daley to back out of the zone.

Dadonov disrupts Larkin’s stick and lets the puck squeak out of the zone before playing it to the middle (an back into his own zone) away from all of the Red Wings’s skaters where Aaron Ekblad can get to it first with the Panthers’ momentum already headed up ice.

The Finish

Ekblad immediately pushes the puck forward to Barkov taking up the middle lane in a well-structured three-man rush against the collapsing Red Wings’ defense. Kronwall and Daley are back, but all three Wings’ forwards are caught and it’s a 3-on-2 rush.

Barkov gains the line before passing off to Huberdeau so he can continue to drive the center lane and regain the numerical advantage that Daley tried taking away by angling on the puck as it crossed the line. This almost works for the Wings as Gustav Nyquist hustles back, but Huberdeau’s patience finds him the seam between Daley gliding to the back post and Nyquist getting back. Dadonov cuts in front of Daley and receives the pass in the slot, fighting off a desperation stick-check attempt by Daley to get a clean look on Jimmy Howard. The Wings’ netminder goes down having to respect the one-timer and Dadonov lifts it over the leg pad to finish the play.

The Blame Game

In terms of low-blame, Justin Abdelkader is the low forward in the zone who is playing prepared for the Wings to keep this puck in and take advantage. He gets back in time, but none of how this play goes is his responsibility to stop. Nik Kronwall has to respect Barkov’s center-lane drive and is maintaining appropriate positioning. I’d like his gap control to be a little better, but a play to disrupt this rush is a risk that has a very low chance of success and high likelihood it leads to an even EASIER goal for the Panthers.

I think Trevor Daley angling at Barkov on the zone entry is the right choice, but he doesn’t adjust well enough after that. It’s a real tough gamble knowing when to stop up to prevent the Huberdeau pass from connecting with Dadonov and committing too early leaves the lane to the back post totally undefended, but Daley misses and Dadonov takes advantage.

Gustav Nyquist is a half-beat too slow to start chugging back and being slightly quicker might get his stick into the passing lane prior to the finish. Unfortunately, that slowness is also a feature of Dylan Larkin aggressively pinching to try and keep the puck in the zone and failing. He kind of blocks Nyquist while failing to prevent Dadonov from making the play at the blue line to get it out and feed it back to Ekblad to start the rush up ice. With Nyquist already in the area, Larkin would be better served to either back out or take a better angle on Dadonov. He tries lifting the stick so he can be clear to create an offensive chance, but his failure to do so clears Dadonov to join his linemates up ice on the odd-man.