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Wings Fail to Capitalize Against Caps; Fall 1-0

Ouellet error leads to lone goal of the game in the 3rd

NHL: Washington Capitals at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Wings entered the game on a hot one game winning streak...following a 10-game losing streak. That being said Blashill and company have defended the process and effort level of late. This would indicate it’s just not a roster capable of winning games on a consistent basis and nobody could argue with that. Tonight the Wings hosted the Metropolitan leading Washington Capitals. The Capitals gave the night off to Holtby who is fighting off an injury, with the start instead going to Grubauer.

News broke before the game that Wings defenseman, and former Capital, Mike Green is undergoing cervical spinal surgery. This was eluded to as a possibility at the trade deadline and what made Green impossible to move for Ken Holland. Xavier Ouellet took his place in the lineup for this one. It will be interesting to see if Joe Hicketts gets a shot going forward.

1st Period

The Zetterberg line opened with a good shift fending off Ovechkin and company. The Wings got an early powerplay on a nifty toe drag by Athanasiou walking around Boyd who was caught in a bad position and got his elbow into AA’s face. Notably Kronwall looks to have moved up to Green’s spot on the Zetterberg PP unit. The defenseman working the point on the Larkin unit was Daley. The powerplay held the zone for the most part but no real chances.

I think it was Mickey who pointed out recently that Jensen seems to take a beating when he chases pucks back in his own end. It’s a valid point as he always seems to take some solid hits and it’s odd given he has some of the better foot speed of the Wings defenseman. After a fairly uneventful few minutes the Wings pick up the next penalty on a Ericsson holding call after a long delayed penalty. Eller had a decent chance on the powerplay with a spin from the side of the net to the front but was unable to beat Howard. Helm had a half break shorthanded but was caught by Eller before he could get a shot.

Following the powerplay, Athanasiou had a great individual effort picking up his own rebound and wrapping around the far side of the net and pulled up in the slot before beating a screened Grubauer. However there was a challenge for goaltender interference on the Bertuzzi screen. The review fairly clearly showed Bertuzzi entered the creased and bumped Grubauer without any help from the Caps and this one was called back.

The reversed call appeared to wake the Red Wings up a bit as they carried the play following the call. Svechnikov got to mixing it up in front of the Caps net following a shot. Penalty to Washington as a result and the Wings went to the powerplay again. The Wings failed to capitalize on the man advantage as the period entered the last few minutes.

Helm nearly had his head taken off by Oshie narrowly avoiding a center ice collision, and the physical tone picked up late in the period. The period came to a scoreless end. Bertuzzi had a strong period generating turnovers in the corners and causing trouble in front of the net, although too much on the called off goal. Wings led on shots 13-11 after the first.

2nd Period

Early on Mantha was able to get the puck in the slot but had his shot deflected to the corner and this was one of the better opportunities the Wings have had. If you had mention of “Kronwall’s playing on one leg” on your game night Bingo card you can go ahead and mark that one off.

The Caps hemmed the Larkin line in for a bit at the 5 minute mark of the period with a couple shots from in close but none beating Howard. There’s been very little of Svechnikov so far and that’s disappointing following a game in which Blashill said he was showing good signs of improvement and had played one of his better games potting a goal.

Mantha made a nice play to a pinching Kronwall down to the slot out front, but couldn’t put it past Grubauer. That’s a vintage Kronwall move I miss seeing. The Wings hit the 20 shot mark just past the halfway point of this game; surprising the shot count was that high given how few chances they had. Ericsson nearly beat the Caps netminder with a shot from the half boards. The Caps followed it up with a chance of their own from in close but Jimmy made a nice save.

The Wings go to the powerplay on a trip with 7:36 to play. On a rarely seen event, the Wings actually went to a full two minute 5 on 3 with the Caps taking two penalties on the same play. Oshie with the initial trip and Eller with the high stick up on Mantha later in the play. Frk needs to develop a better understanding that especially in these open ice scenarios he doesn’t always need to be the shooter. Everyone knows that’s what he’s there for, if he could just develop an effective fake he could really open up opportunities for others. The Wings did not really generate much of anything despite the extended two man advantage.

Eller hit the post with just over four minutes to play on the closest either team had come to beating the goaltenders at that point. A minute after that opportunity Larkin rang one off the post that was much closer to going in than the Eller opportunity if one can say that about shots that both hit the post. Glendening had a good opportunity late off a turnover generated by Abdelkader.

Eller had what seemed like a pile of shots in this period. The young guns of Larkin, Mantha, and Athanasiou generated the most for the Wings this period albeit not all on the same line. Wings had a 15-10 shot advantage in the period, 28-21 overall headed to the second intermission.

3rd Period

Just over a minute in and Helm picked up an interference penalty and there wasn’t much to argue about on this one. Oshie had a nice toe drag across the top of the crease and hit the crossbar over Howard’s shoulder. The Caps were unable to put one in on the powerplay.

Shortly after the penalty kill, the Wings had a couple good chances. The first on a cross slot feed from Athanasiou to Mantha, and the second a breakaway by Athanasiou making his traditional quick move to the forehand but couldn’t slide it by Grubauer. Bertuzzi was involved in some extra curricular activities after the play after an extra poke at the keeper.

After a good start to the period, Ouellet bobbled a puck at the offensive blue line. This created a 2 on 0 break for the Capitals and Connolly made no mistake beating Howard with the shot over the shoulder to the far corner. That shot was the first of the period by the Capitals at the 6:41 mark. A poor result for the Wings after carrying the play early in the period. One would imagine Ouellet was not going to see much ice for the remainder of the game following the error.

Not much happened over the next few minutes until a Kronwall trip on Oshie with 8:52 to play. The Caps generated a few shots on the powerplay but nothing too dangerous outside of a Connolly shot from the dot on a pass from behind the net. Ovechkin was strangely quiet in this one with no real plays of consequence besides a hit on Glendening earlier in the game.

Bertuzzi had a good chance on a broken play entering the zone that Grubauer caught a piece of with his toe on a shot to the low far corner. Ovechkin later followed with yet another shot off the post on a spinning shot near the top of the circle, so much for that statement on him being quiet in this one. That would have likely iced this game with only 4:30 remaining.

DeKeyser made a nice move entering the zone putting the puck through the defender’s legs and making a drop pass to Mantha. The Wings pushed late in the period for the equalizer with Athanasiou not missing by much. The Wings pulled Howard with 1:00 to play after the Capitals kept the puck in the Wings zone for close to a minute. A late timeout with 30 seconds to play before an offensive zone faceoff led to...absolutely nothing. Wings lose 1-0 in a game that lacked much to get excited about.

Summary

This game didn’t have much intensity or excitement with neither team generating many chances despite a high shot count. The Wings outshot the Caps 39-26 and yet didn’t test Grubauer very often. The Wings were the better team in one the Capitals may have been looking past. A few posts by both teams in this one could have led to a higher tally.

The Wings were ultimately done in by their inability to capitalize on the man advantage, particularly a full two minute 5 on 3 that didn’t generate a good scoring opportunity. The lone goal in the game came off a Ouellet miscue at the offensive blue line allowing a 2 on 0 that ultimately stood as the winner.

On to the next one Saturday against the Leafs, eight games remaining in the schedule. Hopefully we see more call-ups and ice time for the youth coming up.