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Key Play Breakdown: Dylan’s dangling dentistry de-fangs Predators’ defense

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NHL: Nashville Predators at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wings got off the losing skid by basically playing as the Red Wings’ opponent has of-late: by going down multiple goals and then coming back. The overtime period was plenty-frustrating for Wings fans, but fortunately we got to avoid another shootout on the strength of Dylan Larkin’s fourth OT game-winner:

The Setup

The two teams are still playing four-on-four after the expiration of Ryan Johansen’s penalty and the Wings get the puck off a Viktor Arvidsson shot from a sharp angle that Howard stops and Hronek collects in front. Before any pressure can make it Hronek’s way, he circles around behind his own net to reset the play while the Predators back off to change. Detroit does the same, getting Larkin and Bertuzzi on the ice as Hronek starts out of the zone alongside Nick Jensen.

While Bertuzzi holds position on the left wing side at the Predators’ blue line, Hronek passes to Larkin cutting up the middle to enter the zone. As Larkin crosses the blue line, he uses Bertuzzi to cut across to the open space given by Bertuzzi driving from that side to the front of the net and dragging the defender with him.

The Finish

Larkin pulls up as the play develops and waits for Frederick Gaudreau to come challenge him before deking the Predator’s forward out of his skates and walking to the middle in front of the lane Ryan Ellis leaves while he’s passing off coverage of Bertuzzi to his defensie partner Mattias Ekholm.

Larkin’s quick cut fins Ellis flat-footed and he’s able to walk into the middle with the puck. Ekholm goes down to block the passing lane to Bertuzzi, but is helpless to stop Larkin’s backhand from getting through him and Pekka Rinne to end it

Credit where Credit is Due

The puck recovery by Hronek and escape behind the net to settle things down is a good, simple play that helps get things started, as is the pass to Larkin coming out of the zone. They’re not fantastic plays or anything, but you don’t have to rely on everybody doing something superhuman to make a goal happen. Hronek has struggled of late, so I’m glad to see him rewarded for making a calm, smart play.

The same can be said of Tyler Bertuzzi in terms of the simple play to make things work out. Without him holding the defense back by the positioning at the blue line and then driving them back to give Larkin the space he needs to finish this play. The kid seems to have a knack for how to position himself on plays like this (as can also be seen in the highlights of his goal in the third period).

I can’t say enough about Dylan Larkin. It’s obvious in this specific highlight, but he’s all over the ice throughout the entire game. Give that kid the damn C.