Let’s finish this homestand with a winning record, shall we? The Red Wings are wrapping up a five-game homestand and would love to finish it off at 3-1-1 before heading off to Columbus tomorrow. However, standing in their way is the cream of the Western Conference, the Vegas Golden Knights. The Knights, who everyone expected to fall off more this year, have been fantastic so far with a 17-7-1 record and 35 points which puts them third in the entire NHL.
However, the Knights are in a bit of a slump, losing three of their last four games with their only win coming in a shootout over the Blue Jackets. However, both teams could see this as a game to bounce back as the Red Wings themselves have now lost two in a row. The Red Wings were extremely streaky in the month of November and will be looking to snap out of that heading into December.
They’ll have to slow down Jack Eichel who, after a tumultuous last few seasons, is finally back in form with 28 points in 25 games this year. It’ll be much more than Eichel, though, as the Knights have eight players with at least 17 points this season. The Red Wings only have four such players this season. One of those players is Filip Hronek who lost his point streak in the loss to Toronto but followed that up with two more assists on Wednesday against Buffalo. Keeping up his hot play will be key to a Red Wings win.
They will also need to keep getting production from their depth players. Three of their four goals Wednesday night came from depth players rather than the first line which has been a big struggle for this team. They’ll also need a great performance from Ville Husso who gets back in net after a rough outing against Toronto where he allowed four goals on 13 shots. The Knights send out backup netminder Adin Hill, who has a solid 2.74 GAA in eight starts this season but has struggled in his past three starts. With that in mind, let’s get into this one and end the homestand on a high note.
Well, that was fast. Barely have I sat down and gotten the game up on my TV when Jack Eichel scores his 13th of the season to give Vegas a 1-0 lead just 1:04 in. Maybe leaving their best scorer wide open in front of the net isn’t the best option? I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. Play slows down after this as the two teams limit each other’s chances. Over the next five minutes, each team has just one shot on goal.
The Red Wings do get a couple of shots on goal with some offensive zone set up thanks to some icing calls. They get their best chance with around 13 minutes left as Pius Suter gets in behind the defense, but Hill makes a great save and the puck goes out of play. We finally get our first TV timeout with 13:06 to play and Vegas up 1-0.
The Red Wings get another great chance a minute after the timeout with a loose puck in front of the net, but Hill makes another nice save. Vegas very quickly gets their first big chance since the goal with a rush up the ice and a William Carrier shot, but Husso makes a huge stop to keep the Knights lead at one.
Around the halfway mark of the period, David Perron gets an excellent chance in front but Hill once again comes up big. Shortly after, we get our second media timeout. The Red Wings are looking like the better team since the goal, but need to find a way past Hill who has played very solid hockey so far.
Some slow play coming out of the break as neither team can really breakthrough with a great chance. Vegas finally gets a chance around the six-minute mark, but some solid defense breaks it up and gives the Red Wings a four-on-two rush that gets ruined by an Erne pass at the blue line for some reason that leads to Hronek going offside. This whistle takes us to the final media timeout with it still 1-0 Vegas.
Coming out of the break, it’s more of the same. The closest thing to a chance that either team gets is a Jonatan Berggren one-on-one rush that sees the puck poked away. In the final minute, Rasmussen comes from around the net for a wrap-around chance but Hill makes the save. That’s the last true chance for either team as the period wraps up with the lead still 1-0 for Vegas.
The Red Wings were the better team for the majority of that period after the early goal. After three shots in the first couple of minutes for the Knights, they finished with just six as the Red Wings outshot them 9-6. They’ll have to keep up the defensive play that they had for the final 19 minutes of the period but find a way to finally beat Hill on the offensive end. They’re fortunate to not be facing Logan Thompson who has been phenomenal and they need to take advantage of that.
The Red Wings get the first chance of the period with a beautiful passing play. Mo Seider makes an excellent play at the blue line to keep it in and find David Perron in the corner. Perron then makes a sensational pass through Vegas defenders to find a streaking Lucas Raymond backdoor who unfortunately misses the net wide. Chances like that are gonna be needed to beat this Vegas defense.
Vegas gets the first couple of shots on net for the period, both of which Husso handles easily. The Red Wings get another fantastic chance around the 14:30 mark but Hronek misses the net in front. It’s six minutes into the period and Detroit is still looking for their first shot on goal for the period. They get another great chance before the break as Joe Veleno gets the puck in the offensive zone, but rather than take a great look at a shot, he tries to find Jonatan Berggren backdoor. Unfortunately, the pass gets deflected up into the netting sending us to our first TV timeout of the period.
Just out of the break, Jordan Oesterle gets called for a tripping minor. Nothing intentional, but got his stick caught in the skates of Nicolas Roy and that’s gonna get called every time. They send the tenth-ranked PK unit to take on the ninth-ranked power play unit. The Red Wings get the first chance as Sundqvist and Larkin have a two-on-one, but it gets broken up. However, immediately after, the Knights get a rush in and Jonathan Marchessault fires a wrist shot past Husso. 2-0 Golden Knights with 12:10 remaining in the period.
A bit rough there for Detroit as Larkin came back a bit slow after taking the shot on the rush. Here’s to hoping he’s ok, but it does feel like this game is getting away from Detroit now. Shots are 6-0 Vegas through the first half of the second period and this is against one of the worst second-period teams in the entire NHL in Vegas. One thing of note is that the Knights have had 2-0 leads the last two games and blown each, so that can give some confidence to a team who came back from a 4-1 deficit on Wednesday.
The Red Wings finally get their first power play of the game heading into the second TV timeout. Zach Whitecloud hooks David Perron behind the net and the Red Wings will hopefully be able to grab some momentum back with the extra man. The Red Wings get a couple chances but Hill comes up big. Then, a beautiful feed from Kubalik finds Sundqvist in front who fans on it at first BUT THEN BURIES IT INTO THE WIDE OPEN NET AND SCORES!!! 2-1 GOLDEN KNIGHTS AS SUNDQVIST HAS HIS THIRD GOAL IN TWO GAMES!!!
Surprise surprise, it’s Kubalik and Larkin with the assists on a goal. That’s Sunny’s third goal since cutting all of his hair off so maybe he’s the anti-Hronek? Who can say? Either way, after no shots in the first ten minutes of the second period, the Red Wings got three on the power play including a goal and have grabbed some much-needed momentum and confidence in this game. It also ended an 0-for-10 stretch on the power play for Detroit that they badly needed to end.
A couple of minutes later, the Golden Knights puck up another hooking minor to send the Red Wings on their second power play after the final TV timeout. It’s a much slower start for them as they can’t really find much of an opening. The first good chance comes with 33 seconds remaining on the power play as Perron gets a pass in the left circle and takes an awkward shot that goes wide.
Just as their power play ends, Phil Kessel comes out of the box as Raymond falls in the corner and loses the puck. Roy picks it up and finds Kessel wide open and he gets a breakaway. Before Husso can even get himself set, Kessel rifles a puck and rings it off the post and into the back of the net. 3-1 Golden Knights just like that and that one really hurt big time.
That’s really all there is to say about the second period. The last couple of minutes pass without much excitement as the period ends with Vegas still up 3-1. Shots in the period were 9-6 in favor of Vegas making it 15-15 overall. The Red Wings are gonna have to get better at creating chances at even strength if they wanna stand a chance in the third. Four of their six shots came on the power play and that’s not gonna cut it against the top teams in this league.
The Red Wings get the first chance of the period right away. Kubalik finds Suter in front of the net for a chance and Suter gets two cracks at it but Hill comes up big. Shortly after, Vegas somehow comes away without a penalty for pulling Dylan Larkin down from behind and the crowd does not like it. I’m sure the officials are telling themselves that it’s totally just a chant for Ville Husso for no reason.
A couple of minutes later, the Red Wings get another excellent chance as Walman is hit with a pass streaking down the left side, but he misses the net wide. Shortly after, Suter gets the puck coming off the bench and fires a shot but again, can’t find the back of the net. The Red Wings get the first five shots of the period in four minutes as they have complete control right now, but nothing to show for it yet.
That control continues as Vegas just can’t get the puck out and more and more shots are fired. They finally do get it out of the zone after over a minute of offensive zone control and get a couple shots of their own, but nothing that threatens Husso too much. A couple of minutes later, the Knights fourth line gets another chance but Husso makes the save and sends us to our first media timeout of the period.
Coming out of the break, Vegas gets a big chance from Mark Stone that ends up hitting the post. They get another great chance after a Chiarot shot goes wide on a rush up the ice but Seider makes a terrific defensive play to prevent them from getting a shot. We end up heading to the second media timeout with the Wings still trailing 3-1. They’re outshooting Vegas 8-4 so far in the period but still can’t find the even-strength breakthrough.
Speaking of even strength, shortly after this Larkin tries to split three defenders and nearly pulls it off. What stops him is a stick from Alec Martinez which sends him to the ice and the Red Wings on the power play. Unfortunately, despite getting a couple of shots on goal against Hill, nothing is super threatening and the power play ends with the score still 3-1 with just over six minutes left to play.
A couple of minutes later, the Red Wings get another grade A chance. A great forecheck by Kubalik gets the puck over to Perron who finds a streaking Hronek, but Hronek misses the net. We head into the final media timeout and the Red Wings are gonna have to get that goal quickly. They’ve struggled at times with the goalie pulled this year and needing two in that scenario feels like an impossible feat.
The Red Wings end up pulling the netminder extremely early with 3:30 left on the clock. A very friendly icing call lets them set up the attack in the offensive zone. But the offense never gets started as a turnover and failed shot attempt leads to a rush and Hronek’s poke check doesn’t get the puck far enough away from Reilly (ugh, I hate that spelling) Smith who puts it in the empty net. 4-1 Knights and that’ll just about do it.
Vegas does get another decent chance late as Paul Cotter gets a breakaway but Husso comes up big. Detroit doesn’t get another shot on goal after their failed power play and that’s how the game will end. 4-1 Vegas with the win and man, that is a deflating loss.
After the first period, knowing how much Vegas struggles in the second period, this really felt like this could end up being the Red Wings game to lose. But they never got going in the second period at even strength, and after a solid start to the third, they completely fell apart on their power play and never got a shot the rest of the game.
Husso was good again and all three goals from Vegas were on the defense rather than him. The offense created chances but often felt like they didn’t actually challenge Hill on chances where they should’ve. A lot of shots wide were the main killer as you can find at least two chances where the offense had the look at an open net and didn’t convert. A frustrating end to a homestand as they’ve now lost three in a row. Now off to Columbus to try to recover tomorrow evening at 6 pm EST. See y’all tomorrow.