The Red Wings twice lost multi-goal leads to a division rival in blue-and-white this week, but I’m not stressing that because Dylan Larkin gave Wings fans a reason to cheer out loud in OT against Toronto on Thursday night. Our by Dylan had himself a great night even before that play though, as he made a fantastic pass for Gustav Nyquist’s goal earlier in the game.
In the last minute of the first period, the Wings enter the zone through center through a hook-and-ladder play from Cholowski to Rasmussen to Nyquist for a carry-in that fully establishes the zone as Nyquist goes to Larkin on the half-wall and the Wings force Toronto to back off with numbers. During this sequence, Rasmussen follows up his work in the neutral zone by pushing hard towards the net and getting behind Par Lindholm, who grabs on and gets the refs’ arm up while Detroit still has control.
Detroit gets the extra skater on the ice without losing control and begins cycling while setting up to take advantage of the manpower difference. Thomas Vanek comes on for Bernier while Larkin and Cholowski cycle. A Larkin shot from the point is blocked aside but recovered by Nyquist, then cycled low before being reset to the point for Green as the Leafs collapse.
Green lets the Wings get reset and feeds back to Larkin at the half-wall in what looks a lot like their PP setup, except it’s a 2-3-1. Vanek takes the slot, Rasmussen the net-front, and Nyquist the opposite faceoff dot while Larkin waits for his opportunity. As the Toronto players edge towards him, Larkin sees his window and feeds Nyquist with a beautiful cross-ice pass on the tape of Nyquist. Sparks gets over as Nyquist pump-fakes, but he also goes down and is very deep in his crease. With all the extra room, Nyquist finds the top corner.
Credit Where Credit is Due
I really like the neutral zone transition created by the accurate Cholowski pass and by Rasmussen using his body to shield off Lindholm while finding Nyquist for the controlled entry. Rasmussen then follows it up by taking advantage of his quick thinking to get behind Linholm and draw the penalty. He doesn’t factor in on the scoresheet, but there’s a lot of good stuff from him.
The big stars of this show are Nyquist and Larkin showcasing some wonderful chemistry from the zone entry to the puck recovery/recycle, and then all the way to the feed from Larkin. This was a well-executed play highlighted by crisp passing and effective body positioning.