Preseason Game Recap: Red Wings (7) at Penguins (2)

Welcome to the beginning of the end of the dress rehearsals before hockey counts. The Wings head into Pittsburgh to meet the half of the team that didn't play in Hockeyville last night. This game was a test of a Red Wings' B-squad versus an A-lineup for the Penguins involving Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

First Period

Things start well for the Larkin line on a few good chances, but the Penguins turn the momentum... right up until Athanasiou burns through the defense and dekes Zatkoff off his rocker to make it 1-0. Then 45 seconds later, both teams get the top lines out and Larkin burns the Penguins again, getting around the right side of the defense and popping it up over the goalie's shoulder to make it 2-0.

The Penguins put on additional pressure for a while, but can't get the puck to the inside. Larkin sets up Nyquist for a surefire tap-in that's barely prevented by a Kevin Porter backcheck just before Justin Abdelkader takes the game's first penalty in the form of a high elbow on a backcheck crossing into his own zone. The Wings kill it off, but face a ton of shots over the next 6 minutes or so. That is until Ferraro gets a puck in the low corner and backhands it to Smith jumping into the slot for a goal that makes it 3-0.

The period ends with Gonchar taking a slashing penalty, giving the Wings a PP to start the 2nd.

Score: 3-0 Wings
Shots: 12-8 PIT

Standout Players: Larkin, Smith, Mrazek, Athanasiou
Tough Period: Sproul, Abdelkader, Ouellet, Sheahan

Athanasiou Goal

Larkin Goal

Smith Goal

Second Period

The period-opening PP creates a near-miss by Nyquist and a good backcheck by Sproul to cancel out a mistake by Ouellet at the point. Crosby & Kessel get a 2-on-1 a few minutes later that fails on a missed pass. This is followed by another Pens foul. This time the PP hits as Athanasiou finds Sheahan out front for a forehand-backhand shot through Zatkoff. The Wings continue to drive pressure towards the Pens net with good neutral zone play. Nyquist steals a puck from Lovejoy in the O-zone and gets taken down for his trouble, putting the Wings back on the PP.

Just three seconds after this PP ends, the Wings make it 5-0 before Lovejoy can get back into the play. Brendan Smith to Dylan Larkin to Justin Abdelkader out front creates a tic-tac-toe tip-in goal. This is a beautiful play. Just about 16 minutes in, Nosek takes a tripping call against Crosby to give the Pens a power play. Pittsburgh finally gets on the board as Sprong steps around Smith to create a low 2-on-1. Sprong tries to pass cross-ice but it goes in off Ouellet going down to block the pass.

In keeping with the end-of-period penalty tradition, Nyquist takes a high-sticking double minor for missing a stick lift on Sundqvist and popping him in the mouth.

Score: 5-1 Wings
Shots: 20-17 Pittsburgh

Standout Players: Franzen, Athanasiou, Ferraro, Larkin
Tough Period: Ouellet, Nosek

Abdelkader Goal

Third Period

The Wings kill off almost all of the first penalty, but Bennett tips a puck from the slot on a nice pass to make it 5-2. Fortunately, it stops there as they kill off the other two minutes. The next ten minutes go by pretty quick with both teams trading territory for a while. Eventually, the Wings get a good cycle in aided by a great aggressive play by Jensen to break up a potential transition out of the zone. Just after, Mantha feeds Athanasiou for a snapshot that beats Zatkoff to make it 6-2. On the next faceoff, Athanasiou tries to return the favor on a 2-on-1 but Mantha very very disappointingly flubs the shot.

5:55 left to go and Nosek takes his second penalty of the game. This call is kind of soft, but whatever because the Wings kill it off. The next few minutes go by until Tyler Bertuzzi draws a penalty by hitting Crosby and pissing off Letang. With 13 seconds to go, Mantha strips Gonchar in the neutral zone and walks in alone for a roof-job. Game over.

Score: 7-2 Detroit
Shots: 38-22 for the score-effectin' losers.

Standout Players: Glendening, DeKeyser, Jurco, Larkin
Tough Period: Nosek

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Final Thoughts

Larkin belongs with the team. No question in my mind.

A good performance by Mrazek following a good performance by Howard is a nice problem to have considering the Wings' schedule this season.

A lot of good plays by the defense mixed with a number of mistakes (except DeKeyser, who was rock-solid). The mistakes feel a lot like they did last year, but there's something about the way the defense plays that feels different. The good plays are outpacing the goofs.

Next game is Friday at home against Toronto. The game will be televised on FSD+ and Jeff Blashill has already said that Friday's game will have as close to an NHL roster as they can get.