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Fischer Fries Fishsticks; Red Wings Win 6-3

Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In an absolutely underlined, circled, must-win, get-right game, the Red Wings beat the fellow wild-card competitor New York Islanders 6-3 on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena. Andrew Copp and the returning-from-injury Dylan Larkin each scored twice, but it was a three-point effort by Christian Fischer that sparked a big night for a sputtering offense.

Game Summary
Event Summary

1st period
It was a spectacular start for Detroit — relative to most March outings that have featured multi-goal deficits and/or several breakaways surrendered. The Islanders had the better chances early in the frame, and while you’d like Detroit to come out with more energy with so much on the line… I think we’ll all take it. A scoreless tie after 20, but just a narrow 9-7 shot edge for New York.

A nice ovation for Dylan Larkin’s first shift, returning to the lineup for the first time in nine games. The hockey gods further punished him by nearly making him kick a puck into his own net, but James Reimer managed to get a glove on it.

2nd period
When the season’s on the line, you need your best players to step up and… Christian Fischer did so to get the Red Wings on board with his third goal in four games. Not the most likely candidate for a breakaway, but he found his way behind the Islanders’ defense and beat Ilya Sorokin along the ice to make it 1-0.

Unfortunately, the momentum was short-lived after an ugly goal surrendered by Reimer, after Isles defenseman Mike Reilly fired a weak shot on goal from just inside the zone that somehow found its way through Reimer’s pads. That’s a goal that can take the air out of the balloon for a team, but you’d hope the stakes of this game keep the team dialed in.

We got an answer on that before the end of the frame. First, the most dangerous man on the ice did more damage, as Fischer collected an assist when he one-timed a Ben Chiarot pass at Sorokin, which was kicked aside to a waiting Copp, who collected the rebound and deposited it into an empty net.

Detroit extended its lead to two in the dying minutes of the period, as Alex DeBrincat gathered a puck in the corner and found Larkin streaking down the middle, and Larkin wired his shot past Sorokin’s ear and into the net. Great pickup by the TV broadcast to see the keep-in by Simon Edvinsson, using his reach to keep the puck in the zone and rim it around for DeBrincat — no assist, but it doesn’t happen without him.

3rd period
When you’re hot, you’re hot, and the Fischer, Copp and Michael Rasmussen line struck again early in the third, with Copp tapping home a rebound of a Fischer shot to give the entire line multiple points on the night.

The Red Wings appeared to put the game out of reach minutes later, as DeBrincat and Patrick Kane connected on a two-on-one to give the Red Wings a 5-1 lead. Gotta love it when you can telegraph a pass so clearly in a situation like this and still find the back of the net.

The Islanders made things interesting later in the third, with J-G Pageau and Mathew Barzal finding the back of the net to cut the lead to two, but an early goalie pull by Patrick Roy eventually cost them with Larkin netting his second of the game with an empty-net goal.

1. Christian Fischer Fan Club. Whoever is currently president — I challenge you for the throne. I’m a believer in the “locker room guy” — and it’s apparent from some of the behind-the-scenes clips, even from time to time when one of his teammates praises him in the media that Fischer is one of those guys for the Red Wings. At the risk of outing myself as a “grit/60” neanderthal, there are little things on- and off-the-ice that this type of player can do that their teammates notice. The blocked shots, killed penalties, sure, but they can also lighten the mood after a tough game, keep the energy up after a good one. Those things matter during the ebbs and flows of a long season. It’s nice to see guys like that get a couple of games in the spotlight each season — it can be a jolt to the rest of the team.

2. They don’t ask how. In what Ken Daniels called the most important game ever at LCA — and who can disagree, really — the Red Wings didn’t come out flying (though neither did the Islanders), didn’t generate a ton of Grade A chances and committed too many penalties, but walked away with two points. After all the frustration of the last month, the Red Wings have a three-point cushion for the second wild card. This is a thin cushion, as Washington has two games in hand and there’s a queue of teams after them (also worth noting Detroit is just two back of Tampa, pending their result tonight), but the Red Wings more-or-less control their destiny, and hopefully went a long way in righting the ship tonight.

3. It’s good to be back. The last month has been painful, and the math on Detroit squeaking into the playoffs is improving but fragile. But boy, is it nice to have meaningful games at the end of March, to be scoreboard-watching for reasons other than lottery odds. An added bonus that it was a Patrick Roy-led squad in the way tonight — just feels right.

Your moment of zen

He was destined for New York.

The Red Wings are back at it Saturday afternoon (5 p.m. ET) in Nashville.

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