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Unhorsed: Red Wings speed past Knights, 5-2

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

What a way to celebrate Danny DeKeyser’s 500th game. It feels unreal that he’s played 500 games, and even less real that he would have hit that a long time ago had he been healthier. He can take his knocks around here, but what a way to celebrate a guy who has been a Red Wing for 10 seasons now.

First Period

Game started more or less with a tripping penalty against Nick Leddy. Not exactly the most egregious trip you’ve ever seen, but I’m not going to get too upset about it. Most exciting part of it was actually a Red Wings fast-break, but y’know how it goes, your team gets the puck with a mismatch on the penalty kill and your Danny DeKeyser fires it into the defender’s skates. C’est la vie.

But just as Ken and Mick talked about just how bad Vegas’s power play has been, the Knights score at even-strength to make it 1-0 Vegas early thanks to a defensive mix-up where Leddy, Staal, and Lindstrom were all on the ice simultaneously. Remember kids, don’t go half way on your line changes following the PK. (Nicholas Roy is the goal-scorer, by the way. He’s having a pretty solid third season in the NHL.)

On further review, in truth Greiss would have had the shot, but the puck went off Leddy’s stick. Sucks, but you can’t blame him for that one.

Raymond nearly knotted it up a minute later on a re-direct from a Larkin shot. Knights goaltender Brossoit didn’t even know he had the puck underneath him until the whistle called the play dead.

Don’t worry, though, Raymond tied it up just a minute later after the commercial break. The Wings quickly went to the power play and just as quickly and the Red Wings cycled the puck around the entire perimeter, then a cross-crease pass from Bertuzzi to Raymond in the left circle, puck slammed in, then we got a tie game! 1-1 Tie! (How does NHL.com still not have a picture of the kid yet?)

William Carrier pretty much immediately took a penalty in the Wings zone by holding Filip Hronek, which would come back to put Vegas in a hole. The Wings took a different approach with their second power play unit; instead of cycling, they dumped and chased. It took a few attempts, but Hronek got the puck along the half boards and made a nifty pass to Leddy. Leddy dropped the puck high left circle to Suter, who found Fabbri sneaking into some quiet ice across the slot. Quick little pass and a nice shot from Fabbri ended up in the net to make it 2-1 Detroit!

Mitchell Stephens ended up getting tossed a short time later for holding, making it the fourth penalty of the period. Vegas’s power play got a couple good looks, including this heady moment where the puck was airborne in the slot in front of Greiss for a solid three seconds, but the Wings got through without any damage.

And then, honestly, I was getting kind of tired of writing stuff for this period. Sometimes as a blogger you’d really love just some boring neutral zone play, if you’ve ever wondered. But Nick Leddy just had to have a nifty takeaway in the neutral zone to spring a streaking Hronek. The Czech charged hard toward the net and fired a hard shot that rebounded out to Pius Suter. The Swiss center wouldn’t miss the mark, though, notching his third of the season to make it 3-1 Detroit!

Score: 3-1 Detroit
Shots: 13-7 Vegas
Stand Outs: Larkin, even though he was kept off the score board. Great power play work. Nick Leddy
Sit Downs: Excellent period overall to take an advantage of a goaltender and a defense that just looked off in that opening period. Gold stars for everyone.

Second Period

The excitement continued to ride early in the second as Mo Seider nearly scored his second of the season. Larkin had some slick moves too, but just couldn’t keep the puck on his stick during a nice breakaway and Namestnikov was a bulldog hanging on a chunk of steak out there. You wouldn’t know it five minutes into the middle frame that the Wings had played last night the way Detroit was humming, but you also couldn’t shake the thought that at this point the night before, the Habs had held Vegas to a single shot and Montreal still went on to lose that game.

Vegas got a really solid chance mid-way through the period off a little miscommunication between Hronek and Larkin, but Greiss stood tall on the attempt. Larkin and Bertuzzi got the puck to Raymond moments later to nearly give Detroit a three goal lead, but Brossoit was also up to the challenge.

Namestnikov would make good where Raymond couldn’t though, scoring off a bad-angle shot that was the result of some grinding below the net. 4-1 Detroit! Good work by Stephens to slug it out and get a wild puck to Namestnikov, too.

One thing I will say about Stephens is that he does his job well, and his play style is an exemplar of why Detroit has played so well this game: Detroit has been faster, harder on the puck in the neutral zone, and they’ve been beating Vegas below the red line consistently.

Gagner took an interference penalty against Mattias Janmark, which is interesting when you think about it because if Detroit hadn’t traded Janmark years ago for... (checks notes) Erik Cole! That’s what I thought, but that makes Janmark 28 years old. I swore he was still, like, 23. But yeah, room might never have developed for Gagner on this roster hadn’t Janmark been traded.

Vegas got a couple good pushes late in the period, including a late opportunity after a blown interference call against Larkin, but Detroit continued to apply pressure and control the pace. Fun stuff.

Score: 4-1 Detroit
Shots: 20-17 Vegas
Stand Outs: Hronek, the Grinders
Sit Downs: So many gold stars, tonight. Easily enough to oversaturate the market and crash the value of receiving a gold star at all.

Third Period

Ken gave an early nugget on the broadcast that the Wings have scored 4 or more goals six times after 13 games this season; two years ago, Detroit only doubled that over the course of the entire truncated 2019-2020 season.

Vegas got some spring back in their step with the new period and it paid off for them; through a great individual effort, Jonathan Marchessault checked Larkin off a wily puck and banged it past Greiss. Wings lead cut down to 2. Kind of a weird sequence leading to that goal, all and all, as the puck just eluded every skater and couldn’t stay on their stick until it found Marchessault.

Pius Suter had two great opportunities to re-establish the three goal lead, but he just couldn’t quite seal the deal. Great game for him all the same.

The Wings used the energy brought by Suter to recompose themselves. They re-established their tenacity on the puck, ultimately leading to a penalty against the Knights as Keegan Kolesar tried to wrangle down a streaking Robby Fabbri on a breakaway.

Larkin, Bertuzzi, Zadina, Raymond, and Seider looked phenomenal out there, pressuring the zone for almost the entirety of the power play, but they couldn’t quite get that nail in the coffin they were looking for.

Vegas came back hard after the penalty, getting a number of great opportunities against Greiss and the Wings, but they couldn’t find a way to get within one before the commercial break.

Kolesar would get sent to the box again for knocking down Rasmussen. Kind of a soft penalty, really, but Detroit fans will take it every time. The Wings managed to chew up a bunch of the clock with the 6-on-5 advantage before going to the actual power play. Unfortunately, the power play couldn’t get a third on the night, but it still looked great. It’s just so nice to watch a functional power play after the last two years.

Vegas pulled Brossoit with around 4 minutes left. Unfortunately the Wings couldn’t win a defensive zone faceoff to save their lives, which made it a little more of a white knuckle finish than you’d like. Greiss made a number of high quality saves in the final sequence. He stood tall though and Bert iced the cake an empty netter to seal a 5-1 Red Wings Win!

Score: 5-1 Detroit
Shots: 40-30 Vegas
Stand Outs: Suter, Greiss
Sit Downs: Defensive Draws

Conclusion

Talk about a pedal to the metal game. That was a lot of fun, though you hope Detroit can tighten up their game a little bit as the season goes on. While Detroit controlled most of the game with a hard forecheck and great speed, their speed got them playing a little sloppy towards the end. It didn’t come back to haunt them, but a better team would have probably found another goal against Detroit late in that game.

Overall, though, that was another fun one. It’s a great confidence booster going into Tuesday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. It will be a tough one, but Detroit has had some success in the recent lean years against McDavid and friends, so it should be a fun showdown.