The Detroit Red Wings look to play spoiler tonight as they welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins to town, currently in the midst of a playoff race. The Red Wings have been surprising of late, winning seven of their last eight games. Meanwhile, the Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin for an eighth straight game and are 4-2-1 in his absence.
Jimmy Howard gets the nod in goal, making his fourth straight start.
And, Jeff Blashill going with the young guns right out of the gate — Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.
Ken Daniels is bang on, the Red Wings are playing very loose and relaxed — I guess that comes with winning seven of your last eight games.
Whoops! Spoke too soon as Dylan McIlrath forces it and clears it over the glass for a delay of game penalty at 18:10 of the first period.
The Penguins head to the powerplay...
Howard tested right away and makes a nice save off the tipped point shot by Nick Bjugstad.
Wings kill it off...no big deal.
Nice to see Joe Hicketts getting a look again — even if it’s in an emergency situation — he unloads a blast from the point that’s turned away by Matt Murray.
Andreas Athanasiou on a break...
Nice spin-o-rama, but loses the puck in the slot.
Sidney Crosby (always dangerous with the puck), makes a nifty pass through the slot, but Larkin is there to clear it out of the blue paint. And, Mickey Redmond goes on a brief rant about Crosby’s center of gravity, commenting on having tree trunks for legs...thanks for that Mick.
Loose puck at center ice and Darren Helm breaks free to claim it...nope, nevermind, he loses it. I JUST WISH HELM HAD A SET OF HANDS TO GO ALONG WITH HIS FEET! Wishful thinking.
Wings get their first chance of the game on the powerplay at 10:01 of the first.
The man advantage starts with a glorious chance for the Wings as AA makes a nice backhand pass in the slot over to Bertuzzi and he appears to be robbed by Murray...
Goal review is coming...
IT’S A GOAL! Bertuzzi gets his 20th of the season. 1-0 Wings at the 9:41 mark.
Hicketts chases the puck back in his own end, turns and makes a poor pass through the neutral zone, leading to an odd man rush. But, Howard is there to stop the backhand shot from Matt Cullen off the rush.
Wings break into the Pens’ zone and Taro Hirose makes beautiful backhand pass to Jake Chelios, but Murray is there with a nice glove save.
Wings with relentless forecheck pressure, proving difficult for the Pens to handle...
Luke Witkowski fights for a loose puck and wears a stick in the face...NO CALL...maybe deemed a follow through? That’s an odd one.
Crosby comes off the bench and picks up the loose puck, heads in on the odd man rush and threads the needle over to Phil Kessel for the tying goal. 1-1 at 19:38 of the first.
A little bit of history on that one as Kessel records his 300th point in a Pens jersey — he’s the 25th player in franchise history to do so.
Shots: 14-6 Penguins
Standout Players: Bertuzzi, Athanasiou, Murray
AA with another spin at the blueline, creating and odd man rush and he gets leveled by Erik Gudbranson before he can get the shot off.
Ooooh! Keep your head up! Ryan Kuffner gets rocked behind the Pens’ net by Zach Trotman. This has been a physical start to the period by the Pens.
Larkin gets pushed down from behind in the corner by Jack Johnson. He didn’t appreciate that and promptly trips Johnson for the penalty. Undisciplined there.
Pens head to the powerplay at 14:55 of the second period...
Kessel gets a quick snapshot off from the high slot, but that’s swallowed up by Howard.
Mick takes a shot at Kessel and his playing days in Toronto — saying he used to sit on the couch and eat potato chips all day. Hats off with the sarcasm, Mick.
Kessel hears the comments from the press box (not really) and heads in alone on a breakaway to get one back on Mick, but Howard stands tall.
The Pens are really pressuring the goal here, but Howard remains calms in net, steering aside a couple shots.
The Wings break into the zone, Helm (yes, you read that right) saucers one over to Bertuzzi and he roofs his second of the game. 2-1 Wings at the 9:34 mark of the second period.
During the break there was lots of talk about the highly anticipated Mantha vs. Redmond ping pong challenge earlier in the week...
Let’s not kid ourselves, we know who won.
Larkin with a nice slap pass, tipped on goal by Bertuzzi, but that’s turned aside nicely by Murray.
The Pens try to bank one off Howard and in, seems loose between his pads in the crease, but the whistle blows it dead — Howard had no clue where the puck was, a break there.
The period comes to an end and the Wings lead it 2-1 after 40 minutes.
Score: 2-1 Wings
Shots: 23-17 Penguins
Standout Players: Bertuzzi, Larkin, Howard
The Pens open the period with a sense of urgency and Bjugstad gets a great chance in the slot, but fires it just wide of the net.
Dominik Simon this time gets a chance in the slot and it’s turned away by Howard...
Bjugstad with another opportunity, rips it on net, but Howard is there with the big glove save. Bjugstad can’t buy a goal tonight as he’s had some great looks.
Helm flips the puck high into the Pens’ zone, AA beats his man, makes a nice backhand move, but Murray is equal to the task...
The play comes back the other way and Kessel gets a quick snapshot off, but Howard makes a nice kick save.
Crosby breaks into the Wings’ zone, drops it back for Jake Guentzel who gets turned away by Howard and then Bertuzzi dives to clear the rebound off Crosby’s stick...
Mantha picks the puck up and skates the other way, streaking down the wing he takes a low wrist shot, but Murray stands his ground. Quick flurry at both ends of the rink there.
Hronek breaks up the Pens’ cycle and clears it out of the zone to Larkin, who flips it up the ice for Mantha and he makes a quick move to slide it in the back of the net. 3-1 Wings at the 8:28 mark of the third period.
Wings continue to weather the storm and the Pens pull Murray for the extra man...
Doesn’t seem to matter though as the Wings corral the puck along the boards, Bertuzzi shows patience and gets it cross ice to Mantha who fires it top shelf on the open net from his own blueline. 4-1 Wings at the 18:06 mark of the third and that about does it.
Bertuzzi with a little history on that assist as he becomes the first Wings player ever with four straight three-point games.
Score: 4-1 Wings
Shots: 39-26 Penguins
Standout Players: Bertuzzi, Mantha, Howard
The Pens were the aggressors for much of the game and it showed in the shot column as they played like a team desperate to clinch a playoff spot. But, the Wings didn’t fold and weathered the storm at times, which led to a pair of goals by Bertuzzi that seemed to lift the spirits on the bench.
Howard looked poised all night between the pipes and was really the team’s backbone tonight, stopping ... Many Wings fans were hoping for a high percentage chance at the first overall pick in June’s draft, but the team has now put together eight wins in their last nine games. Frankly, I’m okay with it because they still seemed destined for a Top 10 pick and any player they welcome into the prospects pool is going to be a good one.
It’s more important right now to see the team finish on a strong note and continue building chemistry together — Bertuzzi, Larkin and Mantha seem destined for greatness.