Detroit took on the expansion Seattle Kraken tonight at Little Caesars Arena. The Kraken have struggled in their first campaign thanks in large part to poor goaltending. Getting the start tonight for the Kraken was Philipp Grubauer who is the face of those woes. Grubauer has a .890 SV% thus far this year with a 3.03 GAA and is still desperately searching to regain his form in Seattle.
In the Red Wings net, Thomas Greiss got the start after being on the bench for the last 4 games while Alex Nedeljkovic has seemingly taken over as the leader between the pipes.
Detroit received late word that Tyler Bertuzzi would have to miss this game as a late scratch due to Covid-19 protocol. Details will emerge whether this was an unavoidable absence or if his vaccination status led him to miss a game he would have otherwise been able to suit up for.
As a result of Bertuzzi’s absence, long time Griffin Kyle Criscuolo cracked the lineup, making his Red Wing debut. He slotted in on the 4th line as the Red Wings juggled their lineup from the late change.
In the opening lineup to start the game, Robby Fabbri was in place for the absent Tyler Bertuzzi. Greiss showed a little rust early as he blockered a distance shot straight up into the air and it ended up landing right in front of him, albeit with no harm done.
The second line had Zadina sliding back up to replace the elevated Fabbri, he was alongside Suter and Smith. Detroit’s first chance came a few minutes in when Smith pulled up at the half wall and hit a trailing Zadina with a pass at the blue line. Zadina tried to use the defender as a screen with a shot from the high slot but it was blocked to the corner.
Fabbri had a nice hustle play when he made a strong push to get back to break up a 2 on 1 when Hronek pinched at the offensive blue line. The Seattle forward crashing to the net may have still got a touch on the puck but Fabbri made it a difficult play for him.
The first penalty of the game went to Seattle’s Appleton for putting the puck over the glass. On the ensuing Detroit powerplay, Suter looked to take over the Bertuzzi net front position with Larkin, Fabbri, Raymond, and Seider manning their usual positions. Early in the Detroit powerplay the Wings struggled to gain the zone. It wasn’t until late that they were able to even start passing it around the offensive zone. They maybe managed one shot from the point with minimal traffic, a disappointing start for their special teams.
Rasmussen came very close to notching the first goal of the game when a point shot hit him in front of the net landing in front of Grubauer where Rasmussen swiped it just wide of the far post.
The next chance went to Seattle when on a net front scramble Greiss made a nice save followed by a very timely point blank block by Staal that prevented what was a sure goal with Greiss beating out of position following the first save.
But moments later a Seattle point shot found its way through traffic and beat Greiss high to the blocker side. Greiss was deep in his net and down. But the referee immediately waved it off, indicating there was goaltender interference. It seemed odd as it didn’t appear anyone was near Greiss. But the review showed Appleton, with some help from Seider did bump Greiss as he passed through the crease just prior to the shot, no doubt affecting Greiss’ ability to make the save. Seattle considered challenging but ultimately decided against it, the game remainded 0-0. A tough start for Appleton.
Seattle followed up with another good chance when Greiss had to swallow a shot from in tight from Johansson. Detroit gained some relief when Seattle took another penalty, this time in the offensive zone when Geekie took several slashes at Ramussen trying to knock the puck away. It was an easy call for the ref to make and an odd decision by Geekie. But the powerplay was short lived as only 0:22 into it Leddy got called for holding on Sheahan who was trying to make a shorthanded break for the net.
Seattle continued to get pressure at 4 on 4. But following a Red Wing breakout Larkin and Raymond connected on a give and go at the Seattle blue line. Raymond from a very tight angle at the goal line beat Grubauer on the short side for a very ugly goal by the goaltender to allow. But Seattle challenged the give and go play by Raymond and Larkin for offside. On the replay it was pretty clear when Raymond touched a soft pass over to Larkin he entered the zone before the puck crossed. The challenge was successful, and it was a pretty clear one to overturn.
Namestnikov took a slashing penalty through the neutral zone late in the period late in the period. Seattle hit a post with seconds left in the period on the abbreviated powerplay opportunity but had to settle for taking the man advantage into the 2nd period.
The period wrapped with each team having had a goal taken away. Seattle had the shot advantage in the opening frame, 7-6. The early portion of the period was fairly uneventful with the action picking up later. Rasmussen had a noteworthy period with a close chance, drawing a penalty, but also firing a shot about 15 feet wide at one point on a rush entry.
Seattle had a couple of decent looks on the carryover powerplay but no great chances. But they did take some momentum from that powerplay through the first couple of minutes.
But it was Detroit with the first great chance when Seattle got caught puck watching on a Wings breakout and Suter was able to hit Zadina with a pass at the Seattle blueline and send the young winger in alone. He made a quick deke backhand to forehand but coun’t beat Grubauer’s outstretched leg. He did however draw a hooking penalty by Larsson on the play sending Detroit to another powerplay.
On the powerplay, Detroit looked much improved from the previous attempts. They got a few attempts and a goalmouth scramble early. Then a quick pass play from Raymond down low to Suter who sent it across the crease front didn’t find the intended target on the other side. Then Larkin hit a goal post and on the resulting scramble the puck found its way to Fabbri’s stick who made no mistake hammering it into an empty net. It was an odd scramble as Larkin’s post shot sat in the crease momentarily before ending up back on Larkin’s stick where he banked it off the side of the net and it bounced out to Fabbri in the slot, 1-0 Red Wings.
Detroit took over through the early part of the 2nd period amassing a 9-5 shot advantage and similar zone pressure through the midway mark. But then Detroit took a penalty on a Rasmussen minor. On the powerplay, Seattle got Detroit’s penalty killers to collapse down low when the puck went down behind the goal line. A pass went back out to the point to Dunn who shifted towards the top of the circle, and sent a shot through traffic that beat Greiss high to the glove side, 1-1.
The game was all square on a couple of powerplay goals. Shortly after tying it, Seattle nearly took the lead when a shot from distance beat Greiss but caught the post and bounced away to the corner. Detroit had the next opportunity to break the tie when Rowney had a chance from in tight to Grubauer’s left but couldn’t jam it past the netminder.
As Oesterle went to collect a puck in his own corner he lost his footing and turned the puck over. With the rest of the Red Wings starting to break out in anticipation of Oesterle gathering the puck, Seattle quickly found Donato in front with a pass and he promptly beat Greiss who couldn’t get over in time, 2-1 Kraken.
Donato lights the lamp!— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) December 2, 2021
and how about that shot fake pass by Yanni tho pic.twitter.com/UmMbrehThA
Tough break for the Wings who were coming on strong in this period but started to get on their heels late in the period.
Detroit responded though with 2:00 to play when Namestnikov tried to fire a shot through traffic from the left circle. The shot was blocked but went back to Namestnikov who shot it again. It hit traffic in front, with Rasmussen among those parked in front. The puck squeaked by Grubauer and credit for the tying goal went to Namestnikov, 2-2.
The period came to a close with the teams tied at 2-2. Detroit took a 19-16 overall shot advantage in a much more eventful second period.
Early in the 3rd period, Oesterle tried to sneak one past Grubauer when he spun and fired a shot from the half wall trying to beat the goaltender high to the short side. Grubauer knocked it down with his shoulder and smothered it.
With 13:30 to play Raymond found a puck in the middle of the slot after a point shot by Seider was blocked. He had his back to the net, but spun and fired it through a defender’s feet and it beat Grubauer on the blocker side, 3-2 Red Wings.
A fortunate bounce for Detroit, but also a result of Raymond being willing to go to the front of the net and reacting quickly to the puck.
Seattle came close to tying it again when there was a net front scramble that resulted in Greiss laying flat on his back before the puck was eventually cleared from the zone by Rowney. Seattle again came close when they hit yet another post behind Greiss from the top of the circle which marked at least three for them off the iron to this point.
Gagner absorbed an ugly hit from behind along the boards in the Seattle zone, but with no call on the play. He looked a little shaken up but still able to play after he went to the bench. Seider was also hobbled after blocking a shot just on the inside of his knee. He winced on the bench but remained in the game.
Detroit went into their usual defensive shell when holding a one goal lead. It didn’t take long for Seattle to gain momentum and with just under 7:00 to play they broke through. Oleksiak rushed down the right side and attempted to pull up and move to his forehand at the faceoff dot before losing control. However Donato picked up the loose puck and fired it immediately, beating Greiss low the far blocker side off the post and in. After tempting fate too many times the post did not bail Greiss out this time, 3-3.
ok but that wrister from Donny tho pic.twitter.com/qPoYjgZr2j— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) December 2, 2021
The question naturally becomes how many blown leads will it take before Blashill and his staff decide sitting on one goal leads for long stretches just does not work. They were taking control of this game and could’ve continued to apply pressure but completely let off the gas after taking the lead.
Erne was set up on a great one timer opportunity from the right circle that he hammered on net but Grubauer made a solid glove save on the play.
Shortly later, Erne set up Rasmussen on a similar attempt but Rasmussen whiffed on the one timer attempt.
The period ended with the teams all square and Detroit with a 25-23 shot advantage in the game. Detroit again flirting with holding a lead and unable to hold on to it. One day they’ll figure it out.
Detroit opened the overtime session with Larkin, Raymond, and Seider looking to capture the same magic they did the other night against Buffalo. Detroit started with possession but after a lengthy fight down low in the offensive zone turned it over.
The teams tepidly attacked each other for the next several exchanges with no shots. Rasmussen found himself with the puck and almost immediately turned it over as the last man back. Luckily for him Greiss made a big save on Donato as he cut across the goal after the turnover. Erne earned cheers when he doggedly pursued the puck in the Seattle zone and forced a turnover.
With less than 2:00 to play, Detroit’s original trio of Larkin, Raymond, and Seider were back on the ice trying to create a late goal. But they too were rather conservative turning back several times. With just seconds to play Zadina made a pass to Hronek for a one timer from up high and it caught the post nearly ending it in dramatic fashion
First to shoot was Fabbri for Detroit. He came in with some speed down the right side. He tried to snap one low to the far side after a fake to the backhand but fired it wide.
Donato was Seattle’s first shooter and he had a hot stick tonight. On the attempt, he came in slow and tried to beat Greiss with a series of moves. Greiss did bite on one eventually but Donato bobbled the puck and couldn’t jam it past Greiss’ pad.
The captain Larkin took Detroit’s next attempt. He went way out wide right, stalled as he came back across the hashes. He made a quick move to the forehand side and snapped it to the far side beating Grubauer for the first tally of the shootout.
Jared McCann was next up for Seattle. He raced in and tried to make one too many moves and Greiss easily swallowed up the puck taking away any space from McCann.
With a chance to end it, Lucas Raymond attacked from the left side. He cut well low, not cutting back across the net front until he got below the faceoff dot. After a couple of quick stick handles he hit the post with a shot low to the far side.
To extend the shootout, Joonas Donskoi was up for Seattle. He fumbled the puck on a backhand deke but was lucky as Greiss missed the puck on the poke check and it squeaked through his pads and went in. The referees decided this was worth a review to see if Donskoi touched it after losing control. Following review it was a good goal and the shootout continued.
Adam Erne had the next chance. With a rather simple attempt he beat Grubauer over the elbow with a shot to the blocker side from the hash mark.
Trying to again extend the shootout, Alex Wennberg drew the puck back between the hash marks and tried to rip one past Greiss but the goaltender was able to deflect it away, giving Detroit the win 4-3 Red Wings, LGRW!
While it was a good end result for Detroit, there’s a bit of a sour taste from blowing yet another 3rd period lead. This team always finds a way to keep it exciting. Blashill and his staff are going to need to throw the book away on current strategies for holding a lead because the team continues to drop them. Perhaps being more aggressive with the lead is the answer but we haven’t seen them try.
That being said this was a good win for the team playing the second half of back to backs after playing in Boston last night. Giving up the lead twice in this game could’ve been enough to break a team running low on gas especially after Seattle took the 2-1 lead. But they climbed back in and showed strong resilence.
Raymond and Seider are not showing any signs of slowing down, they continue to take the league by storm and make several noticeable plays each in almost every game. Wings fans need to be prepared that a wall could be coming for these two given the slower schedules they’ve been used to in Europe, especially given the big minutes and roles they’ve been playing. But that’s no reason not to enjoy it as long as it lasts.
Larkin and Raymond showed that even without Bertuzzi that top line can drive play all game long. But behind them Zadina had some impressive stretches tonight. He could easily have backed down after his demotion but he looks driven and continues to try and make plays. Yes he still needs to finish more regularly, like the goal against Boston, but there could be a breakthrough soon.
Despite playing on the “second line”, Givani Smith played a team low 6:28, less than newcomer Criscuolo’s 9:17 tonight. It seems Zadina may find his way back up sooner rather than later.
All in all a win is a win and one Detroit will happily take. On to the next one Saturday when the Islanders come to town.