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Wings Storm Back on Ducks, Win 3-1

Wings mounted a late rally to beat skidding Ducks

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Detroit Red Wings Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The big roster news coming into this one was the return of Danny DeKeyser after a lengthy absence. This game marked his first appearance since December 4, missing a span of 19 games. The key to watch with him was to see if he could shake off any rust from some such a lengthy time off. He came into the night projected to be paired with Cholowski, an intriguing pair to keep an eye on. Unfortunately as a result this meant Filip Hronek found himself in the press box for this game, despite some stronger play of late.

In goal, Jimmy Howard once again got the start and was scheduled to square off against John Gibson who continues to put up a strong season for the Ducks with a .919 SV% and 2.75 GAA. Gibson has been the back bone of the Ducks most of the season so far and is the main reason they are still looking at a potential playoff spot.

But it hasn’t been all sunshine on the duck pond, the Ducks have lost 11 in a row in some way, shape, or form going 0-7-4 over that stretch. Likely by no coincidence, the Ducks completed a trade this week sending Andrew Cogliano to Dallas for Devin Shore. The move was called an obvious attempt to wake the room up as Cogliano was supposedly well liked among his teammates.

The Ducks have been one of the league’s lowest scoring teams and no doubt will need to do more to keep their position afloat. This one could well have been down to a race to 3 goals with the way these teams score.

1st Period

This game was a bit slow to start with the teams exchanging a couple shots each in the first few minutes. Some pleasantries were exchanged between Bertuzzi and Getzlaf in front of Gibson but nothing of major consequence. The first chance of the game came when Green had a shot blocked in the Ducks zone that the Ducks tried to quickly breakout on. The outlet pass to the forward who had initially blocked the shot revealed the Green shot actually broke his stick. Bertuzzi quickly hopped on the now loose puck and head-manned it to Larkin at the offensive blue line. Larkin gained the zone and held up to allow his teammates to rush towards the net. Larkin sent a pass across to a rushing Green that he tried to parlay into a deke through the lone defender. The defender got a piece of it, enough to cause the puck to bounce between Green and Bertuzzi. Green corralled it and tested Gibson from in close but couldn’t beat him with a shot to the low glove side.

Detroit’s next opportunity started from a similar position as where Larkin had been on the previous attempt. This time Helm held up as he gained the blue line and found Athanasiou as he rushed down low and got behind the Ducks defense. Athanasiou made a quick move behind the net and attempted a wraparound on Gibson but wasn’t quite quick enough. The Ducks Ritchie had a chance of his own on a Detroit turnover high in their own zone. But thinking he had less time than he did, Ritchie took a spinning shot from the high slot that was well wide and he wasn’t able to identify the open teammate he had available down low.

Picking up off of the Bertuzzi and Getzlaf exchange earlier, Larkin and Kesler seemed to be getting testy with each other early, with Kesler pushing Larkin to the ice in his own zone while the play carried on. Silfverberg and Green had an awkward collision in the Wings corner that caused Silfverberg to leave with some discomfort to his right hamstring.

With just over 3:00 to play Larkin carried the puck behind the Ducks net after a rush through the neutral zone. He slid the puck through the crease area trying to find one of Bertuzzi or Athanasiou in the area. Bertuzzi got a stick on it but Gibson made a strong save with his pad kicking out to deny the chance. The Wings 4th line got in on the wraparound action as well with De la Rose attempting to beat Gibson with one. Ehn even got an attempt on a rebound on the play but still couldn’t beat Gibson. It’s possible the Wings saw something on tape with Gibson regarding his puck tracking behind the net.

That was the last notable attempt by either team in a period marked by some very choppy back and forth play with both teams missing on a lot of pass attempts. The Ducks took a 9-8 shot advantage to the break but it was the Wings who had the better of the few chances there were to go around. Athanasiou had a good period and was one of the few who seemed to be get an attack going. Bertuzzi also looked good in a game starting to take the shape of a rougher one he would excel in.

2nd Period

Early indications to start the period was that Silfverberg would not return for the Ducks, which hopefully doesn’t end up being long term for him. Detroit’s 4th line had a strong shift early in the period with the Abdelkader, Ehn, and De la Rose combination generating some sustained zone pressure. The Wings trio of Glendening, Helm, and Athanasiou followed with a good shift of their own with an Athanasiou redirect off a Helm pass through the slot being the best chance. Shortly after the Ducks came down on a rush and hit a post off of a Montour shot. Following that, the Wings 4th line returned to the ice and generated another shift of sustained zone pressure.

In the middle of a shift change the Wings got themselves a 3 on 2 rush that culminated with a Nielsen attempt on a Larkin feed that he tried to beat Gibson upstairs with on the glove side as the goaltender slid across his crease. But Gibson flashed his glove on an impressive stop to keep the game scoreless. The Ducks got a shift with some pressure a few minutes later with a Getzlaf shot attempt from the half boards that he hoped would catch the right bounce as it passed through the crease area. But Cholowski was quick to knock it down and clear it from danger before it could find a Ducks stick.

There was not much action to report as this game approached the midway point. Both teams were demonstrating why they have had difficulty finding goals for long stretches. On a strange play a puck bounced off a Ducks defender and up into the air in front of Gibson. As the nearest Duck reached for the puck he was cross checked by Bertuzzi which caused his hand to jerk forward and knock the puck off the crossbar and out. Bertuzzi received the first penalty of the game as a result of the play and the goal would not have accounted should the puck have gone in anyways.

The Ducks powerplay went to work quickly, perhaps sensing their dismal 5 on 5 play to that point. Getzlaf tested Howard with a shot from the right circle on a puck he carried in from the half boards. Getzlaf collected his own rebound and circled back to the same spot, but this time found Ritchie in the high slot for a one timer that beat Howard low to the blocker side. The replay showed though that the puck redirected off Rakell’s leg just to the right of Howard before going in. The Red Wings penalty kill completely lost their assignment on Ritchie in that dangerous area of the ice and he made them pay, 1-0 Ducks.

The Wings continued their push after the Ducks goal including a good Gibson save on a De la Rose shot through traffic from a Nyquist pass. The next few minutes of the period had no noteworthy plays by either team. With 3:00 to play, the Ducks Manson got open trailing a rush and gained the puck at the Wings blue line and took a shot on Howard from about the top of the circle that was well wide of the target. A few moments later Howard found himself at the bottom of a pileup that ended up with him having a stick jammed between his skate and pad that he couldn’t get removed until there was a stoppage following some sustained pressure by the Wings.

The Wings took the shot advantage in this period 8-7 to even the shots at 16 each in what had been a very slow affair to this point. Athanasiou continued to try to wake this game up on his own but neither team had got much going at all. The Wings were going to have to create more opportunities in the final frame of this one if they wanted to pickup a win against the struggling Ducks.

3rd Period

Just a couple minutes into the final period, Kronwall picked up an interference penalty on Shore chasing back behind the Wings goal. Howard made an impressive save early in the man advantage tracking across his net on a one timer from the dot to his left. The puck rattled around between his legs but never got through. The Wings managed to kill off the rest of the penalty without allowing another chance for the Ducks. Shortly after the penalty expired, the Wings rushed up the ice with Athanasiou carrying down the left boards. After gaining the zone he sent a pass across the slot that was deflected off a Duck stick to a streaking Mantha who double clutched on the bouncing puck before letting his shot go that found its way through Gibson, 1-1.

Not long after the tying goal, the Wings sent an errant pass from behind their own net through the middle that hit a leg and caused havoc in front of Howard. But no Duck was able to get a hold of the puck in the scramble and it was eventually cleared away. The Wings 4th line continued to have a great game getting another shift with sustained pressure hemming the Ducks in for the entire shift.

In the last minutes the Wings sent Larkin, Mantha, and Athanasiou out as a line (as they had earlier in the game) and they were able to generate some great pressure and a few near misses. With just over 4:00 to play the Wings entered the zone with Nyquist charging up the middle. After having the puck knocked back to the blue line, DeKeyser picked it up and put a shot on net through traffic. Nyquist did a great job tracking the shot and extended his reach to knock the puck out of the air and redirect the shot low on Gibson with the puck going just over Gibson’s pad and into the back of the net, 2-1 Wings.

Not long after the go ahead goal Helm chased a Ducks defender behind the Anaheim net forcing him to send the puck up the boards. DeKeyser made an aggressive play at the blue line pinching on the Ducks forward and knocking the puck back into the Ducks zone. Helm picked up the loose puck at the top of the Ducks circle and dragged it across the top of the slot before sending a shot through traffic. Gibson never saw the shot through the three bodies or so between him and the shot and it beat him low to the blocker side, 3-1 Wings.

The Wings had the Ducks essentially dead to rights after that with a couple minutes to play and in need of two goals. The Ducks pulled Gibson but could not generate any chances to try and bring this one back to within a goal. The Wings held and cleared several pucks until the final buzzer went, sealing the Wings victory 3-1.

Wrapping Up

The Wings certainly love to win via the third period comeback. Detroit made some good plays throughout this one and outchanced the Ducks overall. In a game that lacked excitement for most of the night, the Wings certainly exploded late putting three goals in the net in the final period. DeKeyser was instrumental on both the second and third goals making his mark on the game in his return from injury. Athanasiou was great in this contest creating plays offensively when they seemed hard to come by in this game. Howard also played well despite not being tested a ton. Also as noted a few times the 4th line of Ehn, Abdelkader, and De la Rose played outstanding. A well-earned victory for the Wings and hopefully something they can build on moving forward. LGRW!