Detroit entered the night looking to rebound at home following a brutal west coast road trip. The Red Wings were looking to extract some vengeance on 80’s night against the team they opened that road trip against in the Vancouver Canucks. That was going to be a tall task with the Canucks coming in having won six of their last seven. But the Wings had plenty of rest coming in not having played since the Friday loss to Edmonton. The Canucks got a win on the road against the Rangers on Sunday.
A player to keep an eye on tonight was Evgeny Svechnikov who after being called up briefly last week actually made it into the lineup this time with the team looking to get a spark of some kind in the Wings bottom nine. To make room Christoffer Ehn was scratched from the lineup. Dennis Cholowski drew back into the lineup replacing Madison Bowey; on the same day Jonathan Ericsson was placed on waivers. One name to watch on the Canucks was Quinn Hughes, the young defenseman Wings fans had been clamouring over in the 2018 draft.
Jimmy Howard got the start for the Wings looking to improve on some tough numbers to start his season, although he’s played admirably behind a shaky lineup. For Vancouver, the red hot Jacob Markstrom got the start with an outstanding 2.19 GAA and .932 SV% to start his year.
Were the Wings ready to turn the tables on the Canucks or repeat last week’s dismal performance?
Early on we saw Svechnikov get his first shift with Abdelkader and De la Rose, but the Blashill blender could change quickly. It was the Canucks with the first chance of the game when Beagle got free to Jimmy Howard’s left when he was uncovered on a pass from behind the net. Beagle quickly one timed the puck off the far post, the Wings were lucky to avoid being down early. But on the attempted clear after the shot off the post Mike Green put the puck over the glass and already this game felt like deja vu. On the powerplay the Canucks quickly put a shot off of the other post, and then teed off on about three other point shots that Howard had to keep out to keep the game at 0-0. Halfway through the powerplay the Wings got a break when Abdelkader raced down for a loose puck along the half boards in the Canucks zone. He quickly put the puck to the front of the net for an onrushing De la Rose, who one timed it but Markstrom was able to slide across and absorb the shot. The Canucks finished the early powerplay with a 6-1 shot advantage.
Shortly after the penalty expired, the aforementioned blender was in action when Svechnikov got a shift with Athanasiou and Filppula, likely just a result of his linemates being penalty killers. The Wings first look came on a play where Mike Green carried the puck into the offensive zone and then took it behind the net before sliding it out front into traffic but no Wing could get a stick on it. It was the Mantha, Larkin, Bertuzzi line that came out buzzing next with a strong forechecking shift forcing turnovers and earning a couple shots. Then Helm, Hirose, and Nielsen had a great possession shift cycling the puck in the offensive zone for the entire shift but failed to generate a chance out of it.
Just past the halfway mark of the period, Cholowski had a tough shift, nearly giving the puck up at his own blue line, catching a lucky bounce to get it back, then subsequently turning it over at the offensive blue line.
Just after that though Nielsen took a Boeser high stick to the chops that drew blood, sending the Wings to a 4:00 powerplay. The Wings initially had trouble finding openings for passing lanes. The second unit was trotted out only 0:30 into the powerplay, with Hronek shanking a couple attempts early in the shift from the left circle. When the first unit came back out, Larkin got a good look on a loose puck in the slot before being knocked to the ice after his shot went over the net.
Just after that Tyler Myers got caught for interference after knocking over Athanasiou after he dumped a puck in at the blue line. On the 1:30 two man advantage, the puck was passed back and forth behind the net before it was worked out to Hronek creeping down to almost the hash marks of the left circle. After looking at a possible shot, he elected to slide it over to Mantha in the right circle who leaned into a one-time blast that fluttered but had enough heat on it to catch the far post and bank into the net, 1-0 Red Wings.
.@antomantha8's shot is alright. #LGRW pic.twitter.com/VebzfNvNis— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) October 23, 2019
The Wings continued on the powerplay for the remainder of the Tyler Myers penalty, but did not get another chance on the man advantage. Shortly after that penalty expired, Danny DeKeyser got himself a tripping penalty sending the Canucks to their second powerplay of the game late in the period. Except for a half decent effort by Bo Horvat driving into the zone and taking an attempt from the high slot, the Canucks never tested Howard on the powerplay that carried over 0:12 into the 2nd period.
Vancouver outshot Detroit 13-9 in the opening period, but it was the Wings that capitalised on the two man advantage to take the lead into the 2nd period. Blashill looked to be giving Svechnikov an opportunity up with some different lines. The youngster looked to be a little cautious in his first period of play with the big club quickly moving the puck to teammates and fumbling it a couple times, but no real mistakes either. The Wings were outplayed to be sure but not by a wide margin making it a promising coming off of last week.
Following the expiry of the DeKeyser minor penalty, the Canucks took the play to the Red Wings early in the period. But the Wings did a get a chance when on a harmless looking play Larkin received the puck at the top of the Vancouver zone, and from a stationary position threw the puck towards the goal where a streaking Bertuzzi that got behind the defender managed to reach out and get a deflection on the puck testing Markstrom who made the save.
The pace of the game heated up 5:00 into the period when the teams exchanged chances both ways with the Canucks first testing Howard with a quick flurry from in close, the last of which was a backhand that was sent wide past a sliding Howard. As the puck came around the boards, Larkin picked it up and sent a stretch pass to Mantha between two defenders and he was in on a breakaway. Mantha tried to go five hole but Markstrom steered it to the corner. Shortly after that Athanasiou made a great individual effort spinning around a Canuck player to get himself into the dangerous area in front of Markstrom but just lost the puck before he could get a shot off.
Svechnikov got his first chance on a pass that hit him at the offensive blue line, but he conceded to try and make a pass across the crease area rather than shooting, his pass attempt slid into the goaltender’s pads where Svechnikov then hacked away at it to try and knock it in. That got the attention of the Canucks players with he and Virtanen squaring off in a dust-up. Both got 2:00 and the game went to 4-on-4 action.
Using the open ice to his advantage Larkin used his speed to chase down a puck at the Canucks blue line, and drew a holding penalty in the process off of J.T. Miller sending the Wings to a 4 on 3 advantage. It didn’t take the Wings long to get things rolling on the powerplay using Athanasiou and Hirose up front with Cholowki and Hronek on the back end. Hirose pulled a puck from behind the net and sent it out to Cholowki at the top of the right circle. Cholowki crept closer to the net freezing the Canucks’ Edler as a screen to his own goaltender. The shot deflected off of Edler’s stick and found it’s way through Markstrom, 2-0 Red Wings.
Come for the snipe.— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) October 23, 2019
Stay for the Cho-low in Slo-mo. #LGRW pic.twitter.com/jqeWx9HNOT
Svechnikov and Virtanen continued their developing rivalry. By the halfway point of the period, this game turned up a few more notches with end to end action with both teams getting plenty of good chances. Daley made a great defensive play on a 2 on 1 lunging his stick forward to deflect away a pass across the slot. The Wings had several odd man rushes during the action and shot themselves in the foot on about half of them completely missing the mark on some passes, but it was progress to even have the looks in the first place.
Svechnikov appeared to have a great chance after a Canucks turnover in front of their own net, but it was as a result of a Hirose hook sending Detroit to the penalty kill. Howard was tested early having to make a point blank save on a Bo Horvat one timer on a pass from behind the net. The Wings needed to have better sticks in the lane to prevent the play. The Wings did look better on the rest of the kill not giving up another opportunity and instead rushed off on a 2 on 1 of their own as the penalty ticked down. Glendening made a great move to get inside position on the defender and put a shot off of the inside post that stayed out.
Shortly after the penalty was killed, Green floated a harmless looking shot towards the goal that deflected and hit the inside of the post bouncing right out to Larkin who had a wide open net but the puck bounced just over his stick. The spot light even turned on via a trigger happy goal judge. After an icing call against the Canucks, Tanev appeared to argue if he should be forced to return to the ice after going for a change. This proved relevant as on the ensuing play he got caught corkscrewing Helm with a hook and went to the box for 2:00.
On that powerplay Detroit struggled to gain the zone early on but after finally getting set up with about 0:40 to play in the period, Athanasiou set up Mantha with a pass into his wheelhouse in the right circle on a nice give and go play. Mantha’s shot rebounded off of an outstretched Markstrom pad, who made a great save on the play. The Wings fired at least 5 shots in the sequence, all of which were great attempts. Markstrom made several big stops to keep the Wings from blowing this one open. But with less than one second to play Bertuzzi was called for a trip in the offensive corner. The Canucks penalty had 0:35 remaining.
The Wings outshot the Canucks 17-11 in the period in what was arguably one the best and most entertaining periods of hockey this team has played in a long time. Athanasiou made himself standout on several occasions showing flashes of what Wings fans remember. One can only hope to see more periods like this one as the season rolls on.
After the Vancouver penalty expired, the Canucks had 1:25 to work with on the powerplay. J.T. Miller made a quick move through a pair of Wings defenders and a good shot on Howard who made a good save to keep the Canucks off the board. But not long after the Canucks got the puck to the net and after a scramble Horvat was able to pick up the loose puck in front of Howard and made a quick move to the backhand to tuck the puck in, 2-1.
Pssst, we need another goal #Canucks. Anyone?— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) October 23, 2019
Horvat: ♂️ pic.twitter.com/GOccV2yLTw
Just after the powerplay goal, Cholowski put the Wings back on the penalty kill via a high stick of the 2:00 variety. The Canucks worked the puck around the zone throughout the advantage and eventually Hughes put a blast towards the net from the top of the zone, Bo Horvat knocked the puck out of the air with a well-placed deflection and it redirected under Howard’s glove and into the net, 2-2.
Pssst, we need another goal #Canucks. Anyone?— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) October 23, 2019
Horvat: ♂️ pic.twitter.com/GOccV2yLTw
The name of the game to this point was special teams and they came back to bite the Wings with two Canucks powerplay goals early in the period to square this game up. Hughes continued to put on a clinic in puck handling and protection around the Wings zone. The Wings finally got a chance of their own on a broken play that ended with the puck in front of Markstrom and Bertuzzi whacking at it, but the goaltender stood square and blocked the attempt.
With 14:00 to play, Hirose picked up the puck along the boards in the Wings zone and made a spinning pass towards the slot with no teammate remotely in the same area code. The pass went right onto the stick of Pettersson who had been relatively quiet in this game so far. Pettersson walked in on Howard but a hustling Nielsen made a great one handed stick check to knock it just off his stick before he could finish his move.
Vancouver continued to push the play, and after a turnover in the offensive end it was Hughes that had a partial break with Hronek in pursuit. Hronek got just enough of Hughes to throw off his shot attempt. On the ensuing counter attack the other way, the Wings got the puck to Bertuzzi on another broken play. Bertuzzi hit a crashing Daley with a beautiful saucer pass who rifled a shot to the far side but Markstrom got his pad out in time to make a big save.
As the halfway mark of the period approached Schaller of the Canucks got called for a trip in the offensive zone sending the Wings to the powerplay. The second unit’s objective has become pretty clear with the goal being to set Hronek up for one timers from the left circle which is a contrast to the top unit featuring all left handed shots. This Wings powerplay went the full 2:00 without getting a single good look.
With 7:40 to play Virtanen picked up a puck from a battle involving two other players and moved towards the goal. Seeing a crashing Horvat he threw the puck low towards the far post looking for a deflection, but the puck instead redirected off of the skate of Hronek in front of Howard and into the net, 3-2 Canucks.
How @Jake_Virtanen put the #Canucks in front pic.twitter.com/IN3MYtWvfX— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) October 23, 2019
Shortly after the goal Virtanen nearly struck again hitting the post with a shot. But it didn’t take long from there for them to get another chance when Schaller came down the left wing and put a shot through Jimmy’s five hole that he would probably like back, 4-2 Canucks.
The @Canucks scored five goals in the third.— NHL (@NHL) October 23, 2019
We repeat, they scored FIVE in the third period. pic.twitter.com/kBQNwD3mqP
The Wings were in deep now with less 5:00 to play and having given up four goals unanswered. But they quickly got their opportunity to when Hronek was hauled down in his own end sending Detroit to the powerplay now desperately chasing the game. Unfortunately the Wings powerplay could never get setup even after pulling Howard part way through.
The Wings net remained empty until Bo Horvat launched a lob from his own end chasing the hat trick...which he put right in the center (of the net...and my heart) 5-2 Canucks.
The Wings put forth a good game for the most part, and then the 3rd period happened. They completely unraveled and never really made a push after the Canucks tied, and then took the lead in the game. The stat line may create illusions that the Wings powerplay woke up but it should be noted the powerplay goals were on a 5 on 3 and a 4 on 3. At 5 on 4 the team looked as toothless as they generally have on the advantage. It appears Danny DeKeyser left the game a few minutes into the 3rd period after the Canucks tied the game, check for updates to come on his status. In other disappointing news, although it’s not news to many, Quinn Hughes is quite the player. It’s a real fear that Zadina sliding in that draft may turn out to be a curse rather than a blessing if the Wings were indeed looking at Hughes for that spot before the slide. Admittedly though, this game was one of the more entertaining ones the team has played this year, if that’s of any consolation. If you’re going to lose you might as well be fun. The Wings are right back at it tomorrow night in Ottawa, hoping to end the growing losing skid.