Detroit finally got to pay their annual visit to Vegas just a few weeks before playing their odds on a much more-important outcome. The Wings recently had their badly-timed but kinda fun-to-watch winning streak snapped by St. Louis on Thursday and the players would be looking to get back in the win column regardless of what the fans want because that’s what they’re paid to do.
Vegas welcomed the Wings riding a four-game win streak and looking rock-solid in their quest to solidify at least third in the Pacific Division. Let’s narrate stuff!
The very first shift of the game we’re treated with Bertuzzi-Larkin-Mantha, so we’re off to a good time. Things go even better about three minutes in as Shea Theodore throws the puck up the boards in his own end straight to Taro Hirose, who immediately chucks it to Andreas Athanasiou on the doorstep for a chance that bounces out of the crease off Malcom Subban and onto the waiting stick of Luke Glendening, who puts it in ON THE FOREHAND to make it 1-0 Red Wings.
GOAL. Shea Theodore with a not-so-great turnover and it leads to a Detroit goal. pic.twitter.com/E4YVGfoAjj— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 24, 2019
Coming out of the goal, the Wings continue to put pressure on as Tyler Bertuzzi and Thomas Vanek get good shooting opportunities on Subban before Ryan Kuffner almost pots one off a feed from Matt Puempel (a sentence I had no idea I would ever be typing prior to this week).
Things can’t stay perfect forever though, as Vegas finally gets their first shot on goal almost seven minutes into the period. Howard stops the Shea Theodore point shot, but the shot-shutout is sadly over. The Knights respond to getting one shot by getting the next several chances as well while the Wings struggle to put together a rush that leads to a shot on goal. Howard comes up huge at the halfway mark as he robs Ryan Reaves at the doorstep on a cross-ice pass to keep Vegas off the board.
On the very next shift, the Larkin line gets two consecutive odd-man rushes of 3-on-1 or better and neither time do they actually get a shot on Subban.
Howard then has to make another big save on Reaves’ next shift as the grit-guy makes a good pass to the front of the net for a chance and the Knights continue to carry the play through to the later portions of the first period.
The period ends without any more scoring, but just one shot from the Wings in the last 13 minutes of the period is... not ideal.
The Score: 1-0 Detroit
The Shots: 9-9
Standout Players: Hirose, Howard, Kronwall
The Period Summed Up: Periods last 20 minutes, fellas.
We learned during the intermission that goal-scorer Luke Glendening was banged up on a tough shift in his own zone late in the first, so we’ll see whether the Wings get another scoring chance from here on out; he did start the period on the bench at least, so that’s a good sign.
The first big chance comes just over two minutes in on a terrible no-look backhand by Hronek to Valentin Zykov in the slot for a chance that Howard has to stop. Detroit answers within the next minute with feeds from Ehn to Puempel and then Puempel to Ehn for chances in the danger zone. A couple minutes later, AA hits the crossbar on one of his signature blazing rushes through center ice. Vanek also had a good chance on front that of course he passes on instead of shooting.
The good news is the Wings made it more than seven minutes into this period carrying all the momentum. Dare I say they’re getting stronger? Let’s find out, as I promise not to edit this sentence out later under any circumstances.
Puempel-Ehn-Kuffner has another good shift and it very much feels like Puempel is due for his first ever goal as a Red Wing.
12:33 into the second, we get our first penalty of the game as Madison Bowey sits for interference behind a Red Wings’ rush. The Wings are able to kill off the power play allowing two shots, but they fall apart as it carries on and the lead disappears in the continuation as Cody Eakin picks up a rebound on the doorstep for his 20th goal of the season to make it a 1-1 tie.
GOAL. Cody Eakin scores to make it a 1-1 game. pic.twitter.com/0TsIOBwPQx— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 24, 2019
Detroit gets their first attempt at the power play as Mantha steps around Nick Holden entering the Vegas zone and draws a hodling call. Guess it’s a good thing his name isn’t Spearen or knee-on-knee’en.
Detroit’s power play lasts for one shot on goal before Dylan Larkin takes a roughing penalty for laying a late hit on Eakin. A guy who looks like Harry Potter going after a guy who looks like a Weasley brother just isn’t right... Fortunately, neither the 4-on-4 nor the brief VGK power play that follows is dangerous for the Wings. Things come to a close through 40 minutes.
The Score: 1-1
The Shots: 19-18 Detroit
Standout Players: Larkin, Bertuzzi, Puempel
The Period Summed Up: Better play, worse result.
The period starts with a decent chance by the Knights getting traffic in front that’s defended well by Hronek clearing out his man, which leads to a clear and a rush the other way. The first real chance of the period comes on a Mantha feed to Bowey sneaking in on the weak side for a chance that Subban stones.
Things settled into a slog for a few minutes from there until Larkin gets called for his second penalty of the night; this time, he trips up William Karlsson. Vegas spends a lot of time cycling around the Wings’ zone on this power play, but the PKers effectively keep the puck to the outside and Larkin’s penalty expires with just one shot on net to show for it.
Larkin is joined by Mantha and Bertuzzi on the follow-on shift and they end it with Tyler Bertuzzi drawing a Ryan Carpenter hooking call to put Detroit back on the PP. This turns out to be a disastrous decision, as Anthony Mantha turns the puck over as last man back and Reilly Smith converts on the shorthanded breakaway to make it 2-1 Vegas.
GOAL. Reilly Smith just can't stop scoring goals. He gives Vegas the 2-1 lead with a shorty. pic.twitter.com/Anuouo9yTe— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 24, 2019
On the same power play, Mantha redeems himself with a one-timer from the dot assisted by Athanasiou to make it a 2-2 tie.
GOAL. Mantha scores on the power play to tie the game up again. pic.twitter.com/63EU3Tx9ZU— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 24, 2019
From here, things got pretty sloppy for both teams, which was kind of fun. The Larkin line continued to buzz and put one off the post behind Subban (about a minute after a near turnover at their own blue line... like I said, sloppy)
Nobody is able to surrender the game-winner before the final horn, so we get free hockey.
The Score: 2-2
The Shots: 30-29 VGK
Standout Players: Mantha (for both reasons), Howard
The Period Summed Up: Mantha
Not a whole lot of time to write this up before Larkin steals a puck in the Knights’ zone and feeds a backhander out to Mantha to blow one past a sprawling Subban for the OTGWG OMG ROFL.
Dylan Larkin had two really bad plays with the puck inside his own blue line. One led to a turnover and a scoring chance and the other very well could have if Vegas hadn’t mishandled. Odd to see these kinds of mistakes by him and overall I’d say he had a pretty good game, but he’s got play inside his own blue line as well as he forechecks inside of his opponent’s.
I don’t know what’s the cart and what’s the horse with Ryan Kuffner’s ice time versus his play. I’ve hardly noticed him. 9:34 was the lowest TOI among all Red Wings players. When he was on the ice, I noticed his linemates more than him. Tough to tell the mixture between lack of opportunity and failure to grasp what opportunity is given.
Madison Bowey is looking more comfortable since his opening games.
Next up: The Wings will take on Gustav Nyquist and the Sharks on Monday night in San Jose.