Hirose impresses but Wings don’t in St. Louis, lose 5-2

A fun first period set my hopes too high.

You know, the Blues are one of those teams I used to hate with a passion. I hated them with venom, the same way I hated the Sharks and Ducks, none of the ornamental respect that I offered the Blackhawks for existing as long as we had and hating each other for longer than a lifetime. No, I just freakin’ hated the Blues. But when the Wings moved to the East, I kind of  forgot about that hatred. It faded. But like all those teams, it all came back as soon as we played them again. Man, these guys suck.

First Period

Well, the cat was raising hell so I went to check on him because when have the Wings done something exciting in the opening minutes of a game? Apparently this one, because when I came back Vanek had already made it 1-0 Red Wings!! Helpers from Nielsen and Hirose! And that makes two NHL points for the former Spartan. Nice way to flip up his own rebound past Binnington, that Vanek did.

St. Louis gained the zone and played some scary puck possession hockey, and man, I mean scary, because as a fan nothing is as terrifying as helplessly watching the puck cycle around your zone, especially because it’s so much rarer these days than it was five years ago.

But the Wings got their own offense set up multiple times, too, and got me excited with that tingly feeling when your own team is moving the puck with impunity. And if it wasn’t for Binnington splaying in desperation and dropping his back on the puck, Athanasiou would have made it 2-0. I tell you, AA’s growth this season has become so apparent since Larkin went down with his injury about a month ago. He’s been working hard all year, but it really feels like he has hit a new level late this season.

Oh, I guess I gotta stop gushing about how little Athy is all grown up now because St. Louis just scored. A neutral zone turnover ended up on Perron’s stick who took a hit to move the puck down to the Wings’ red line. Another Blue tossed the puck into the slot to an open Sundqvist, who made the easy shot for the easy goal to tie the game 1-1.

One of the things I like about having Larry Murphy back on color commentary is that you can tell he just absolutely loves watching defensemen making good plays. Lashoff had a slick little play to clear the puck off his own boards while under pressure from two Blues and you could practically him doing a little fist pump with the way he said NiiiiceLash. It was a tenacious play, but I think you could say that Detroit’s success this period came from their tenacity. The Wings fought hard for every puck and just outworked St. Louis in the early goings as the Blues looked to some easy passes and the Wings wouldn’t give them the luxury. When the Blues piqued up the difference in talent was made apparent, but if the Blues were looking past tonight tonight their Saturday tilt when the Lightning come to St. Louis, well, this might just be a trap game for St. Louis.

Score: 1-1 Tie
Shots: 8-7 Blues
Stand Ups: Vanek, Hirose, DeKeyser

Second Period

Whelp, about as quickly as the Wings took the lead in the first, the Blues took the lead in the second.They entered the zone on a 2-on-1 opportunity and rung a puck off the post behind Bernier, but managed to recollect the puck and make havoc in the crease until Barbashev finally got a juicy enough rebound that he could lift over Bernier to make it 2-1 Blues.

Not long after, Nielsen went to the box for Delay of Game, but the Wings killed it off without consequence. In retrospect, this PK might’ve been the finest point of the period for Detroit; they held the Blues without a shot.

What WAS of consequence was Detroit letting in another quick goal, more or less by the same design as the previous.  Get traffic on Bernier, fire a high shot from his left side , collect the rebound, and score. Makes it 2 goals for Barbashev and 3-2 for the Blues.

The Wings got a great opportunity late in the period when Vince Dunn went off for high sticking Tyler Bertuzzi, but the Wings couldn’t get a good opportunity off anyone’s shot besides Athanasiou. But the greatest missed opportunity of the period were the passes that were so much sloppier this go around. While the Wings were the more disciplined squad in the first frame, there was no denying St. Louis took that title from them in the second.

Score: 3-1 Blues
Shots: 15-14 Red Wings
Stand Ups: The Penalty Kill

Third Period

The Wings looked a little more focused in the early goings of the period, but the Blues were not going to let their pedal off the metal. A lot of back and forth in the first five minutes was broken up as Tarasenko sprung the Blues through the neutral ice. Bozak flew through the slot but was forced to the outside, forcing him to take a less-ideal backhand shot, but in the scuttle of things Lashoff tried to amputate Brayden Schenn’s arm to send the Wings to the PK.

The ensuing penalty kill wasn’t as sterling as the first, but the result was the same: the Wings abated any more goals.

The Wings took that momentum and established zone control. The puck cycled around net, made its way back to Vanek up high, and the Blues threw Bertuzzi into the net, clipping Binnington on the way, stopping the St. Louis netminder from having any chance making the save. 3-2 Wings! The Blues would try to overturn it, but you can’t get goals back because your defenseman did his best impression of Sting throwing Hollywood Hogan over the top ropes.

The Blues would get it right back, though. In what felt like yet another slow-mo scrum in front of Bernier, a Blue made actually a really slick kicking pass in between multiple Detroit legs to an open Patrick Maroon. Bernier actually had a really valiant attempt to save Maroon’s shoot, but he just couldn’t quite get over quickly enough to pinch off the daylight. 4-2 Blues.

Blashill pulled Bernier with about 2 minutes left and the Wings didn’t even get a real opportunity before Barbashev could break away and earn his first career hat trick. 5-2 Blues. A shame of a result, really, for what was actually a fairly consistent game from the Wings. Maybe they didn’t deserve to win, but I ought to have been a closer margin than this.

Well hey, we can go back to pulling petals off flowers and thinking of Jack Hughes again.

Score: 5-2 Blues
Shots: 24-22 Blues
Stand Ups: Vanek, Athanasiou, Hirose