How many of us thought at the beginning of the season that a Wednesday night tilt against the lowly Sens would be labelled BIGGEST GAME OF THE SEASON? I’m glad ol’ Todd Bertuzzi came out to the studio for it, though. That was awesome. Love seeing him, and how soft spoken and insightful of a guy he is.
Total let-down of a game against the worst team in the East, though. Here’s how it went down.
Blashill opted to start the game with DLR’s line, which was an interesting tactical choice. Teams usually love nothing more than making a statement with an early goal, and it can’t get any better than scoring that statement goal on the first shift. DLR, Helm, and Abby have played pretty well thus far this season, well enough that Blash should feel comfortable putting a lot of trust in them, but they aren’t the most offensively potent line. But I guess the game will show how it works out, eh?
(Thankfully, Ozzie explained moments later the intention of getting pucks deep so Larkin’s line can take an offensive zone face off early.)
Early excitement came out of Daley sending a really nice pass from the defensive zone into Mantha in the neutral, who lugged it and sent a heavy, heavy shot against Anders Nilsson, and Larkin had a cool looking (but not very accurate) spin-o-rama attempt. Hronek had a decent attempt off a good feed by Cholowski (that feels good to type). This is all in addition to several other early attempts to bring the Wings up to a cool 6 shots against 2 in the first five minutes.
The Sens would strike first, though. A pass from the blue line to Bobby Ryan down low gave him an opportunity to shake Mike Green. Ryan circled the net and was able to make a clean pass to a crashing Chris Tierney (who outskated his man, Glendening) to make it 1-0 Sens.
The Wings nearly made it to the half way point of the period before recording their seventh shot, thanks to Andreas Athanasiou. The Sens success in the first period really started coming after they made an adjustment and started defending the Wings tighter and more physically. This led to the inevitable interference penalty by the Wings, but the Sens have a 4% power play. How bad could it be?
Apparently not too bad. The Wings killed it away with no consequence. Props to Daley for eating up over 10% of the PK by laying on top of the puck.
The first sign of life for the Wings in nearly ten minutes came from Mantha on a fast break, but Zaitsev got on his horse and made a good defensive play to keep Mantha on his forehand, allowing Nilsson to make the easy save.
The Wings would eventually get a power play opportunity of their own thanks to a hook on Hirose from Bobby Ryan. Bertuzzi got a great opportunity early thanks to some excellent, excellent, passing from Mantha and Athanasiou, but no dice. Ottawa got a 2-on-none against Bernier, but he made an excellent save to keep the score 1-0. Blashill can’t be happy about that power play.
The Wings would get one more crack at it with just under 2 minutes to play. The second unit went out first and held onto the puck nicely but didn’t do much. The first unit got its chance and was much more electric... in both directions
Score: 1-0 Senators
Shots: 12-11 Senators
Stand Outs: Bernier, Mantha
The Wings started the period on the power play, but it was a pittance of time remaining. Shortly after, though, the checking line gained some zone time, DLR sent a soft pass down from the half boards to Abby, who sent a backwards pass to Helm from the one timer past Nilsson to knot it 1-1 All!
Darren Helm and Anthony Mantha have now combined to score 50% of Detroit's goals this season because that's something we definitely expected. Here's Helm's 4th of the season pic.twitter.com/G7wMxPMq2Q— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) October 24, 2019
The Wings started playing with some swagger henceforth, and this game got fun again. Nemeth made a series of great plays, first to spring the Wings offense off a loose puck in the Wings zone, then several good handles on the puck as the Wings cycled the puck despite the Sens hounding them all over the zone. Eventually the puck ended up back on Nemeth’s stick, who fired a shot from the left circle onto Nilsson. The juicy rebound came out for a crashing Bertuzzi to make it 2-1 Wings!
Tyler Bertuzzi picks up a rebound and puts the Wings up 2-1 pic.twitter.com/ILaPbzbZkD— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) October 24, 2019
Ugh, then Mark Borowieki got lucky with a rolling puck to knot the game back up at 2 apiece. Blech.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) October 24, 2019
GOAL: Borowiecki (1)
ASSISTS: Paul (1), C. Brown (7) pic.twitter.com/xre2Ra4igK
Then the Sens put the puck over the glass, but wouldn’t you know it, the Senators score a shorty to make it 3-2 Sens. Mantha bobbled a pass up tight on the blue line from Cholowski, leading to a 2-on-1 that Cholowski played okay, but Bernier probably should have grabbed this one with his glove.
The fireworks wouldn’t end there, though. More were to come. You know, the type of fireworks that makes you sad. Chabot made a nifty little play to keep the loose puck on his stick and away from the Wings. DLR got mesmerized by this move at least as much as I did, because he drifted across the zone and left Duclair wide open. He slammed it up high against Bernier into a wide open net (thanks to Tkachuk clearing the crease) to make it 4-2 Senators.
Oh, at some point I stepped out to feed my cat and Glendening left with an upper body injury. We’ll keep you updated on that as it develops.
That basically sealed the period. It really reflected the first in a lot of ways; in the opening minutes it looked like the Wings would come out and dominate, but then the Senators just played gritty and forced turnovers.
Score: 4-2 Senators
Shots: 24-23 Senators
Stand Outs: Nemeth
Wings started the period on the power play, but Prashanth really says it better here than I ever will.
HERE COMES THE POWER PLAY pic.twitter.com/RX1Atd5uKH— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) October 24, 2019
Blashill started hitting the line blender pretty early in the period and, honestly, this felt like the most balanced opening of a period so far, which has made it the most entertaining. Or maybe it’s just that after the second period I hit my own reset button and came to terms with the fact that the Wings were staring down the very real possibility of losing this one and got on with my life.
Abdelkader had a real nice sliding block, but he took the shot right off the side of the ankle and limped off the ice. Looked like it hurt like hell.
The Wings got their best opportunity of the night as Svech crashed the net and released two quick shots on Nilsson, but somehow he stopped both to keep Ottawa’s lead at 2.
Athanasiou, Hirose, and Filpulla’s line nearly put the Wings within one on multiple attempts late in the period. The Wings wouldn’t get too many more chances afterward, though, as Ottawa basically sealed up the puck in the Wings zone for most of the remainder. Duclair even ice the Wings away on an empty net goal to make it 5-2 in the end.
Score: 5-2 Ottawa
Shots: 38-36 Ottawa
Stand Outs: Hirose, Athanasiou
Okay, let’s not think too hard about that one and look forward to the Wings finally, finally getting back home to the LCA on Friday when they take on the Buffalo Sabres, which should provide a good opportunity for the Wings to break this losing streak. Nobody was too eye-popping tonight; lots of guys had good moments, like Hronek and Hirose, but I can’t say the Wings were robbed or anything. They were just outplayed by a more aggressive team.