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Recap: Red Wings lose 5-1 in heroic Vanecek effort for Devils

The Red Wings had some solid chances, but were ultimately beat by Vitek Vanacek.

New Jersey Devils v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

The Detroit Red Wings get a national television game against the strong but struggling New Jersey Devils. They also get some reinforcements, with Robby Fabbri returning from his third torn ACL injury.

1st Period

The Red Wings came out looking strong, putting up five of the first seven total shots on goal in the first seven minutes. The Devils appeared to pick it up after the TV break, getting some good chances and preventing the Red Wings from moving the puck through the middle of the ice. Ville Husso made a big save in a scramble with just over nine minutes remaining in the first on birthday boy Nico Hischier to keep the game scoreless.

The first period ends scoreless, with Detroit leading the expected goal battle just slightly. A fairly even period where both teams had a couple of solid chances on the opposing netminders.

Second Period

With 13:02 remaining in the second period, the Red Wings drew an interference penalty on Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler. To this point, the Red Wings lead the shot battle 13-8. The Red Wings could not convert, and just a couple of minutes later, Ben Chiarot took a penalty, and the Devils took advantage.

Dougie Hamilton took a walk right to the middle of the ice after the faceoff, and on their ninth shot of the game and first power play, he scored to put New Jersey up 1-0.

With just under eight minutes left, Fabbri found Oskar Sundqvist in the slot for a one-timer, but Vanecek was again up to the task. Those two have created some very good chances up to this point in the game but could not convert on any.

With 4:21 remaining, the Red Wings took another penalty. This time it was tripping on Jake Walman, which on the replay, didn’t look like much of a penalty at all. He got the puck first, and the tap on the pad was light, but nonetheless, the Devils got the power play.

If the Red Wings didn’t know not to take penalties before, a power play goal from the Devils captain Hischier in front should do the trick. His 17th goal of the season came off another Hamilton shot off a faceoff, and there’s nothing that Husso could have done about it. 2-0 Devils with under five minutes remaining in the second period.

The Red Wings gave up a couple more chances with the period winding down, but Husso made some good saves, and the game remained 2-0. The third is going to be a big period, and one that the Red Wings need to be disciplined in.

Third Period

Well, it didn’t take long for the Devils to strike again in the third period. At just 18:09 in the last period of regulation, Michael McLeod went down the slot and New Jersey took advantage of an empty net thanks to Husso spinning out of control after a save on a two-on-one with Miles Wood and Alexander. That made the game 3-0 Devils.

Then, Alex Holtz got a wide open chance from the slot that he took full advantage of from a Wood pass. Using the lethal shot of his, he put the Devils up 4-0, and this game became full-Devils very quickly in the final period.

Husso made a marvelous left-toe save on a Devils one-timer from the slot to keep the game at 4-0. But there was much to be desired from the Red Wings defense as with less than six minutes remaining in regulation, Jack Hughes found a way behind everybody, received the puck on a sweet feed from Erik Haula and made a nice move to put the puck up and around Husso on a funny bounce from his backhand. 5-0 Devils.

The Red Wings to this point were still leading the shot battle 32-24, but thanks to some incredible goaltending from Vanacek, they couldn’t find the back of the net. However, that all changed when they were awarded a power play thanks to Brendan Smith hook, and Dylan Larkin found Lucas Raymond on the backdoor for a tap in. 5-1 Devils.

The game would end 5-1 despite a 33-26 deficit in shots on goal and the Red Wings having 3.64 expected goals compared to the Devils 2.27 per Evolving-Hockey. There were some solid chances for Detroit. However, Vanacek came out extremely strong tonight, stopping almost every one of them outside of Raymond on the power play.