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Strong Defensive Effort Helps Red Wings Blank Flyers, 3-0

Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With the playoff race tightening by the day, the Red Wings rebounded from a rough defensive effort two nights ago and helped Alex Lyon claim a 3-0 shutout over his former club, the Philadelphia Flyers. Detroit’s offense came alive during the second period to establish the three-goal lead, and the defense took it home from there, blocking 22 shots and limiting quality opportunities to help seal the win on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena.

Game Summary
Event Summary

1st period
Despite my specific pre-game instruction that it would be wise to shoot early and often against a team that had conceded 18 goals in its last three games, it was a slow start on that front for Detroit, with just one shot on the board halfway through the frame. That was a bit deceiving, though, as it felt as though the Red Wings controlled play for most of the period. On the game’s first power play, the Red Wings weren’t shy about firing the puck, but at least five attempts were blocked by the Flyers, including a Dylan Larkin look that deflected off a Philadelphia killer’s chest and rang off the crossbar.

Larkin probably had the next-best look by either team later in the period as well when he was stopped at point-blank range by Samuel Ersson, so the teams went to the dressing rooms still sitting at 0-0.

2nd period
Outside of Larkin, Lucas Raymond may have been Detroit’s next-best player in the game, so it was fitting that the pair combined to open the scoring just over two minutes into the second. Fittingly, the play developed due to the Red Wings’ effort in getting the puck to the net. Alex DeBrincat started the play by cutting to the middle, but his shot attempt was blocked and ended up on the stick of Raymond. He hesitated and fired at Ersson, who made the initial save but directed the rebound right to Larkin, who buried it. A little lucky, but a reward for taking shots and getting to rebounds.

That goal seemed to spark the Red Wings, who made it 2-0 on another play setup by Raymond. The Flyers coughed up the puck due to Detroit’s forecheck, and Raymond jumped on it and fired a pass back to Moritz Seider. Seider’s shot took a miraculous bounce off of Morgan Frost and beat Ersson over the shoulder.

Late in a penalty by Seider midway through the period, Michael Rasmussen dazzled on a shorthanded effort, masterfully protecting the puck along the board and eating up clock, before he found Andrew Copp sneaking into the middle of the ice who he set up for a one-time goal and Copp’s 100th NHL tally. A pretty passive effort from the Flyers in getting Rasmussen off the puck, but full credit to sticking with it and keeping his head on a swivel.

It felt a little unsurprising after that one that Philadelphia’s fourth line was out as much as they were late in the second, with Nicolas Deslauriers challenging everyone and anyone over a few shifts before finally finding a dance partner in Klim Kostin. Deslauriers is a tough bout, but Kostin held his own there.

3rd period
Detroit’s blown a lot of third-period leads — including to these same Flyers about a month ago — and have equally overcome a few lopsided deficits of their own this year, but this third period was about as good as you can hope for with the Red Wings’ preferred strategy of sitting on leads and attempting to play low-event hockey, as they held onto their 3-0 lead without issue. It may not be obvious from the boxscore, in which Detroit was outshot in all three periods and 30-17 for the game, but it felt like Alex Lyon’s degree of difficulty was significantly lower than most of his outings this year (or any Red Wings goalie, for that matter). Stick taps to team defense for minimizing Grade A chances and second-chance opportunities, especially in the third.

1. Leaders lead. Larkin has had longer point streaks than his current 10-game run and accumulated more points over shorter streaks, but this is in the conversation as his best stretch as a Red Wing — mostly because it’s rarely been so important. After Detroit bumbled through a relatively easy December schedule (they played a lot of games, but they saw a lot of non-playoff teams), the Red Wings are now 8-2-1 this month, and their captain is on the scoresheet in all but one of those games. Lucas Raymond is catching fire of late, too, and full marks to him for that, but you’ve got to believe he’s enjoying playing with Larkin right now.

2. Ride the hot hand. Ville Husso’s conditioning stint will likely only be one game, so long as things feel right for him, but this was a message sent from Alex Lyon after he was pulled (as mentioned pre-game, through no fault of his own) on Tuesday against Dallas. I hope Husso’s healthy and back to form after a rocky first half, but this should be Lyon’s net until his play says otherwise. There’s little room for error from here on out, so I can’t imagine the Red Wings coaching staff feels otherwise.

3. Dirty work. As noted previously, Philadelphia was certainly given a mandate late in the second period to change the momentum by any means necessary, and Deslauriers and Hathaway were taking liberties wherever they could. Kostin answered the bell and didn’t let one of the most willing fighters in the league get the best of him, and tempers were kept in check until late in the third. And I don’t know if he played much of a role in it, but Kostin and a heated Hathaway were both tossed in the final minute, too, as the refs were cautious about further fireworks. John Tortorella seemed to be sending a message to his team by keeping Hathaway on the ice for seemingly the entire final five minutes, leaving his skilled players on the bench and not even entertaining pulling the goalie. Fighting is not much of a utility in today’s game, and it rarely works as the deterrent it used to, but this was an instance in which it did, and Kostin, his six minutes of ice time, nine minutes in penalties and bloodied lip, deserve a stick tap for that.

Your moment of zen

Copp’s dialed in. The Red Wings will host the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday at 8 p.m. for the fourth game in a five-game homestand before the All-Star Break.

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