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Red Wings Blow Lead Late, But Rally to 3-2 OT Win

Wings almost waste great effort, but find winner in OT

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Detroit Red Wings Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The big story coming into this one was at long last the Red Wings were retiring Red Kelly’s #4 jersey. Better late than never as they say, and Mr. Kelly is certainly deserving of the honour. The stories that have been told since this announcement regarding Red Kelly paint the picture of a man that embodies what it means to not only be an all-time great hockey player but also a terrific person.

Following the ceremony there was still a game to be played. Both the Red Wings and Leafs entered tonight’s contest coming off of their bye weeks, leaving both fan bases starved for action. Jimmy “All-Star” Howard drew the start for the Wings while Frederik Anderson was between the pipes for the Leafs. The Leafs brought a new face into their lineup tonight after orchestrating a trade for Jake Muzzin from the LA Kings. The Wings on the other hand are still down a few bodies with Tyler Bertuzzi now out of the lineup and Trevor Daley remaining out. Michael Rasmussen appears to be close to returning as he began his conditioning stint in Grand Rapids last night, scoring twice, and should be back in the lineup next week. With Bertuzzi out of the lineup, Justin Abdelkader drew into his spot on the top line with Larkin and Nyquist. Could the Wings come out of the break and upset the high powered Leafs looking to start their march toward a lengthy playoff run?

1st Period

This game eventually got started by about 8:20pm following the retirement ceremony. Helm missed an attempt early after a setup by Larkin. The next opportunity came on a play where Nyquist tried to jam the puck in against the post from behind the net, Abdelkader crashed the crease to try and clean up the loose puck but with no success. The Wings carried the play early getting a good portion of sustained zone time. Cholowski floated a shot from the point through the slot towards Mantha who got a deflection on the puck but tipped it just wide. Just past the 5:00 mark, Green carried the puck into the zone and as he went to make a move around the defender he slid a pass over to Athanasiou. Zaitsev leaned into Athanasiou from a tough angle sending the forward crashing into the Leafs net where it took him some time to regather himself.

The Wings earned the first powerplay of the game on a Marner hooking penalty. The Wings moved the puck well on the man advantage with a good chance coming off Athanasiou’s stick on a shot from the left side of Anderson at the faceoff dot. AA was looking for Vanek through the crease but the puck caught Zaitsev instead. Vanek also had a deft deflection from down low near the goal line that Anderson had to react quickly on.

Following the powerplay the Leafs got their first pressure of the game, and believe it or not their first shot over 14:00 into the period. However it was the Wings who took a penalty shortly after that with Glendening getting a holding penalty chasing a Leafs defender back towards the Leafs blue line. The Wings did a good job killing off the penalty rarely allowing the Leafs to enter the zone directing away several zone entry attempts.

The Larkin line continued to get pressure offensively with Nyquist missing an opportunity on a pass to the slot from Larkin, but it was thwarted by a good Marner back check. After some more good pressure by the Wings, De la Rose received a penalty for crashing into Anderson with 1:21 remaining in the period attempting to redirect a puck that passed through the crease. This time the Leafs powerplay was more dangerous, culminating with a Matthews pass from behind the net to Marner on the left side of Howard with Jimmy making a great save on the Marner one timer catching just enough with his shoulder. The Wings held the Leafs powerplay from getting another chance for the remainder of the period. The penalty carried over into the 2nd period with approximately 0:40 remaining.

The Wings had about as good of a period as they could hope keeping the high powered Leafs from registering a shot until deep into the period with about 6:00 remaining. Offensively they managed good sustained zone pressure with a few good looks. The only thing they were missing was many top level scoring chances. The Larkin-Nyquist combination continued where they left off getting within a bounce here or there from being able to get a good look in close. As far as improvements going into the next period, staying out of the box would be wise to avoid jump starting a Leafs squad that got off to a slow start and prepare for a likely push from Toronto after getting only 5 shots in the opening period.

2nd Period

The Wings opened the period by killing off the remainder of the De la Rose penalty. Not long after the penalty expired, the Leafs Lindholm picked up a holding the stick penalty after grabbing Abdelkader’s stick when his was launched across the ice. But the Wings failed to generate much of anything on the man advantage. The only noteworthy event was Larkin having his leg stretched to an awkward angle after getting tied up with Hyman.

After the game returned to even strength the Wings got hemmed in by a Matthews, Marner, Tavares combination. The pressure resulted in a DeKeyser slash after knocking the stick out of Tavares’ hands down low in the corner. The Wings killed the penalty after surviving several near misses by the Leafs powerplay. After the penalty ended the Wings again turned the pressure up on the Leafs with the Larkin and Nyquist combination, this time paired with Athanasiou. After a good attempt from Nyquist it was Athansiou who knocked the puck across the slot during a scramble with it landing on the stick of Nyquist who was able to beat a sprawling Anderson, 1-0 Wings.

The teams exchanged shots through the middle section of the period following the goal, but neither getting any dangerous attempts. Kronwall found vintage Kronwall legs and made a rush from the point down the left side then tried to deke backhand on Anderson but couldn’t reach around the goaltender. This set off a small flurry from the Wings with the next chance coming on a Mantha partial break down the right side taking a shot that missed the far post by inches. On the same series, Larkin had a one timer from the slot that hit the outside of the post. Anderson found himself on his rear end during the series and scrambled to recover.

The game slowed to a crawl for a bit after that series of chances. But eventually it was the Leafs who were able to generate some pressure, again by the Matthews line. Marleau was able to steal a puck behind the net from Nielsen and Green to somehow find an unmarked Matthews in the slot. Matthews quickly snapped one to the short side on Howard, 1-1.

The Wings held on for the remaining couple of minutes of the period as the Leafs press was on. The Wings were unfortunate to go to the break with a tie as they had carried the play for most of the first two periods until those final few minutes. Larkin and Nyquist continued to do a great job creating offense. Moving into the final period, the Wings had to focus on shutting down the Marner, Matthews, Marleau combination as the Leafs other lines had not created much of anything so far. The same could be said for the Wings with the other lines needing to generate more chances.

3rd Period

Only 0:11 into this period, Athanasiou found himself on his way to the penalty box on a tripping call. Athansiou extended for the puck on a race to the corner but got his stick in Muzzin’s skates on a potentially dangerous play with Muzzin crashing hard into the boards but he looked okay after that play. The Wings killed off the Leafs powerplay that followed without allowing the Leafs to create a good chance. Glendening was shown to be in some pain on the bench during the penalty kill but returned to play a shift later.

After the penalty Athanasiou entered the zone and got caught by a diving Marner to knock the puck away at the blue line. Nielsen picked up the puck and sent it out front where it was redirected on goal but Anderson managed the save. However Marner received a penalty for tripping on his lunge towards Athanasiou. But the Wings only put a few shots towards the net on the powerplay. After the penalty expired Marner nearly got loose for a breakaway coming out of the box. Green hustled back in time to slow up Marner as he cut across the goal mouth trying to go backhand on Howard. Marner had the next chance as well when he picked up a loose puck to Howard’s left and then attempted to wrap it around to the far side but Howard made a good stretch to just get his pad on the post in time. The Leafs had some pressure after those opportunities but never got another clean look on Howard.

The game picked up to a pace about twice the speed it had been earlier in the game. After a shot that went just wide by Green, the Leafs broke out of their zone and found Hyman with a pass up the middle at the Wings blue line. Hyman split the Wings defense but he sent the puck high over the net as he came in on Howard. On the ensuing play Hyman received a pass in the slot but couldn’t beat Howard with the shot. But on the shot Nyquist got caught with a hook on Hyman. Following the trend from the rest of the game the Leafs powerplay never created a good chance.

Just after the penalty expired, Nyquist picked up the puck at the Wings blue line and touched a pass over to a rushing Abdelkader who had a step on the Leafs defender caught at the blue line. Marleau chased Abdelkader down before he could get a shot off but was called for a hook just as the shot was attempted. On that powerplay the Wings got a terrific chance on an Athanasiou attempt from in tight. AA slid the puck through the crease and banked it off Vanek’s shin guard but Anderson was able to sprawl back and grab the puck before it could cross the goal line. The Wings came within inches of regaining the lead. On the ensuing faceoff the Wings gained possession in the Leafs zone, Athanasiou made a drive down the left boards and sent a pass to Vanek behind the net who one touched it back against the flow of the play to Larkin in the left faceoff circle who one timed it high to the short side just beating Anderson, 2-1 Wings.

Vanek may be one of the most deft passers in the league from behind the goal line. He makes those plays at least once or twice a game. The pace quickened again following the goal with the teams rushing back and forth. Mantha and Ehn had a 2 on 1 chance where the puck was just knocked away as Mantha slid a pass over to Ehn. Athanasiou was sprung for a partial breakaway shortly after but couldn’t beat Anderson with a shot low to the glove side.

The Leafs pulled the goalie with over 2:30 to play. As the Leafs cycled the puck around they found Matthews down low who quickly sent a pass at waist height to Marleau in the crease. Marleau somehow deflected the puck off the shaft of his stick between his hands and directed it into the net. The play was briefly reviewed but the call stood, 2-2.

The Wings did a good job again pressuring the Leafs after allowing them to tie the game. Glendening had a good look on an Anderson turnover to Helm who found Glendening out front with the puck. The Wings had several good shots on Anderson in the final minute, but couldn’t beat the netminder who extended this game to overtime.


The Leafs got the first chance with Reilly coming down the right side but Howard made a good save with his shoulder. The next chance was some crafty puck work by Marner but Howard again did a good job staying square to the puck. Larkin hurt himself on the play after seemingly pulling something while chasing down Marner. He stayed on the ice long enough to get a 2 on 1 chance with Athanasiou but when the pass was sent over to him he couldn’t seem to get much strength on the shot. Athanasiou later got a chance of his own on a breakaway but couldn’t beat Anderson with the backhand deke. But after the attempt the Wings recollected the puck with AA retrieving the rebound from his own shot. AA setup Nyquist at the point with Nyquist rushing down low across the slot drawing the Leafs attention. DeKeyser got lost in coverage and Nyquist sent him a pass back across the slot and after hesitating he beat an outstretched Anderson, 3-2 Wings Win!

Wrapping Up

Wow! For a game that started as slow as that one did, the 3rd period and overtime certainly made up for it. The game’s tempo completely changed to start the 3rd and was great to watch. The Wings once again blew a lead late and need to find a way to shake that demon. But tonight they regrouped well after the tying goal, pressing late in regulation and exchanging chances in overtime. Moving forward the Wings will need to continue to look for more goal support from their other three lines. But Larkin and Nyquist are willing this team to wins when they get them. This one ended as a barn burner and hopefully there’s more of that to come. LGRW!!