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Key Play Breakdown: Nyquist cooks the Ducks’ goose with game-winner

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wings have won two straight games and the Ducks have lost 12 straight and I honestly couldn’t tell you which I’m happier about (which might tell you something about how bitter I still am about the 2007 Western Conference Final).

The game-winner came late in the third period thanks to the work of noted crease-crasher Gustav Nyquist:

The Setup

I’m going to do this one a little differently because this play features one of my favorite hockey quirks: a huge contribution from a player who has changed before the goal is scored and doesn’t get a plus.

Mike Green is all over this shift and his first contribution happens about 45 seconds prior to the goal:

Here he angles off Ondrej Kase rushing in with speed looking to take advantage of forcing a D-man to turn. Green’s angle is perfect and he maintains good gap control, allowing him to sweep it away from Kase and end the danger before it can materialize.

The Wings dig it out, but Frans Nielsen turns it over, giving Kase another speedy rush opportunity for Green to stifle, except this time on the opposite side. Again, he maintains his angle and is able to force Kase to try a prayer shot-off-the-goalie pass. Bonus feature here of Nik Kronwall doing an excellent job tying up his man before he goes off for a change that gets DeKeyser on the ice.

With Green having done all he can in the defensive zone, he jumps to the offense after Nyquist single-handedly carries from his own zone into the Ducks’ and feeds Nielsen who makes up for his previous turnover with a nice feed to Green for a scoring chance down the middle that Gibson stops. Green is undeterred and maintains good support for Nyquist pinching back down to where he and Green are essentially handing back coverage from one another. This creates a bad clearing attempt for the Ducks up-ice that DeKeyser is able to break up.

You’ll never guess who gets to the loose puck first after DK breaks up the pass (except I put this under the gif of it happening, so you’d better be able to guess).

This highlights a superb pass from Green turning it back up without hesitation and hitting Luke Glendening off the bench and in-stride to get into the Ducks’ zone in such a way that forces the defense to collapse.

At this point, there’s nothing left but for the play to go as naturally-planned. Vanek gets the pass and lets the play develop while Glendening and Nyquist drag defenders to the net-front. DK jumps into the play.

The Finish

Bingo-bango there’s your game-winner as DK’s shot gets tipped by Nyquist on its way through traffic.

Credit Where Credit is Due

I’ve pretty thoroughy covered how this was the Mike Green show, so let’s skip ahead and also give a good shout out to Gus Nyquist for a really good shift in both ends as well. You’ll notice him in a few of those gifs and he’s key in all three zones as the play develops leading ultimately to his deflection.

Vanek’s patience with the puck (as infuriating as it can be at times) really pays off here as he lets an overcollapsing defense do just that before taking advantage of that with a perfectly-placed pass. A sourpuss could argue it’s an unnecessary risk that will create an odd-man rush if the pass isn’t collected perfectly, but playing hockey to avoid giving up goals is not exactly a great way to win.

DeKeyser stepping up in the neutral zone to break up the outlet, getting back to cover, and then jumping in late is exactly what he should be doing and is perfectly executed. The same can be said of Glendening upon coming onto the ice and jumping into the play to find the puck on his stick with speed to enter the zone immediately.

Nick Jensen got Mike Green’s plus, by the way. He’s the last man on the ice just before the goal happens. Enjoy your ill-gotten gains, you dime-store Magneto-lookin’ man, you.