Oh man, this was a fun one to be back in the saddle for as my first recap this season. The Wings came into DC as the underdogs and found themselves down 2-Nothing mid way through the second and battled back for the win. Here’s how it all went down.
The game started with the Caps breaking up the Wings breaking out of their own zone following the opening faceoff. However, Larkin scooped up the puck in the neutral zone and streaked into the Caps’ zone, getting pinched by two defensemen and drawing a penalty in the process. The second unit got the better looks but no goals, unfortunately, so a lost opportunity to really set the pace of the game.
The Caps carried play off a couple fortunate line matchups following the power play, but the Wings would get the best scoring chance earlier as the puck cycled behind Vanecek’s net and bounced out in front of Rasmussen in the slot. It took Ras just half a second too long to get the squirming puck under control and he couldn’t quite five-hole Vanecek.
In fact, Detroit carried play for most of the first half in the opening frame thanks largely to their speed on the forecheck. The bottom two lines really pulled their weight as well. Washington got their shots, but nothing came easy. Detroit’s neutral zone play was also commendable as it squeezed the Caps out of most chances to lug the puck.
The Caps got a lot of pressure late in the period as they matched their top two units against Detroit’s bottom two. It ultimately led to a penalty against Gagner for tripping. Detroit’s penalty kill looked awesome until the waning seconds when Erne and Seider had a little miscommunication, leaving Ovechkin open in the right circle. Greiss had an amazing first save against Ovi, but the puck bounced right back onto #8’s stick, who lifted it over Greiss and into the net. 1-0 Capitals.
The Caps took a penalty on the next shift (cross checking via Dowd) so the upshot is that the Wings would start the second on the man advantage.
Score: 1-0 WSH
Shots: 12-7 WSH
Stand Outs: The forecheck and neutral zone play
Sit Downs: The boards behind each net, which were beaten into submission by all the missed shots.
Well, the power play came up empty handed, so that sucks. It’s interesting to watch the power play in this game, because I’m unsure of how well cycling the puck suits the Wings this game. Washington is just a bigger team than Detroit, so the Wings needed to find a way to exploit Washington’s size and age with their young legs. Of course, Washington isn’t exactly a slow team, either, though.
The Wings got a bad bounce that led to a a great chance for Washington that led to a Wings penalty that led to a Kuznetsov goal right off the draw. 2-0 Caps. That’s two goals against Detroit’s PK. Not a good look.
Just as I started to think, man, our bottom lines are squirming out there right now, but a battle along the half boards resulted in a loose puck finding its way to Namestnikov and then to Hronek in the slot. Vanecek stoned Hronek, but Erne moved in to gather up the loose puck and push it past the Washington netminder! 2-1 Caps.
Detroit managed to wrangle control late in the period. Some sloppy passes squashed the best opportunities for the Wings on their odd-man rushes, but it was good resiliency from the young team to hang with an elite squad. Going into the evening, I think most fans would be happy if the Wings were trailing by a single goal after two periods.
Score: 2-1 WSH
Shots: 17-14 WSH
Stand Outs: Erne, Hronek, Rasmussen
Sit Downs: Penalty Kill
The middle lines started making some magic work to start the third period as Ras’s unit kept working well on the forecheck and Suter’s group got the puck low, got some pucks out net, battled for position, and outbattled their coverage. The group peppered Vanecek and muscled their way to rebounds against the bigger Caps, eventually resulting in Fabbri burying one off the rebound via Erne! 2-2 tie! This also marks Suter’s first point as a Red Wing as he fed Erne for the initial shot.
Like any solid team, the Caps pushed back hard. Greiss made a couple good saves, including a real nice block on a lonely Lars Eller low in the right circle. Good game for the German netminder, at least up to fifteen minutes left in play.
Fortunately, the Wings gathered themselves and started carrying play once again. Suter, Zadina, and Fabbri weren’t making much noise early in the game, but they really came out strong in the third and carried the load for Detroit while Larkin’s line continued to be stymied. If it feels like I haven’t mentioned Larkin, Bertuzzi, and Raymond too much, it’s because Washington pretty effectively forced them to the outside, allowing Detroit’s top forwards to look dangerous without generating too much in the way of dangerous chances.
Washington would get a great chance just after the midway point, but Ras would take the hooking penalty to prevent a great scoring opportunity. On the ensuing penalty kill, Mitchell Stephens would take a ping-ponging puck to both legs, but he managed to battle through until Greiss could net the puck for the stoppage. And while getting few clears, the penalty kill looked good by really forcing Washington to the perimeter.
Late in the period Wilson came this close to netting his first goal of the season and really planting a dagger in the back of Detroit thanks to a nifty feed from Ovechkin, but Greiss sprawled to absolutely stonewalled him to keep the game knotted.
Washington would get a few more scary chances, but they couldn’t finish off Detroit so the game would go to 3-on-3 overtime.
Score: 2-2 Tie
Shots: 27-24 WSH
Stand Outs: Erne, Greiss, Seider, and the 2nd line
Sit Downs: None, good team effort in the third
Extra time started with Ras, Leddy, and Fabbri. After an initial Capitals shot, Detroit would control play for teh remainder, and it would take a couple zone re-entries from Mo Seider, but eventually he would connect with Raymond and Larkin to finally throw the puck past Vanecek! Great drive to the net from Raymond to free up space for Larkin to earn the W for the Winged Wheel! 3-2 Red Wings!
Score: 3-2 DET
Shots: 28-25 WSH
Stand Outs: Larkin, Raymond, Seider
Sit Downs: Nobody, get up and LGRW!
When was the last time Detroit came back against a quality opponent like that after being two in the hole? This is a different team this year, folks, with contributions on and off the score sheet all over the line up. And it’s two kids and a goat (ha) that seal the deal in over time! What a way to end things, especially with an undefeated Florida squad coming into the LCA on Friday.
It wasn’t as flashy as the win over Chicago, but this win was a total team effort and the sweeter of the two. Let’s enjoy it and we’ll see you back here on Friday.