The main Dane’s reign: Frans Nielsen’s pair helps Detroit’s comeback win over Montreal

Wings back home after no points on the moms’ trip to welcome the Habs into Detroit for the first time this season. Detroit beat Montreal twice up north so far, but have never beaten a Habs team featuring Ilya Kovalchuk.

Hey Jimmy, you ok with Jonathan Bernier getting the start on YOUR bobblehead night?

[head bobbles furiously]

First Period

Habs start Tatar and were it not for Glendening being on the ice as well, he’d probably count as the most-popular Red Wings player right now. Val Filppula gets the first scoring chance off a good job digging in the corner by Adam Erne and Charlie Lindgren gets his name printed for making the stop. Montreal answers with the next two chances, but I’ve already mentioned Detroit’s goalie in this recap so I’m not going to reprint it yet.

We get more than four full minutes into the game before we’re reminded of Jeff Petry’s local ties.

Detroit does a good job controlling the momentum in the early-going, testing Lindgren a few times (mostly the Larkin line). The Habs get a little push-back, but that ends as Dale Weise takes a penalty for tackling Justin Abdelkader at the Montreal blue line. The power play struggles to move the puck in any meaningful direction and Weise steps out of the box very mildly chagrined.

The Wings don’t lose much in terms of momentum from this failed power play, but they get another chance at one as Nick Cousins gives Mike Green a dirty cross-check into the boards behind Bernier. Green limps off and PP1 hobbles on. The unit gets set up, which turns into a horrible idea, as Filip Hronek has a pass to Robby Fabbri intercepted by Artturi Lehkonen for a breakaway that he slides under Bernier to make it 1-0 Habs.

The first dangerous PP chance comes on a net-front feed from Givani Smith to Justin Abdelkader and if you thought that would ever be a sentence typed on this website you are a damned liar. The Wings ruin the rest of their chance and immediately give the Habs one of their own on a Madison Bowey tripping penalty.  The Wings kill this one off with the only chances being one-time attempts by Kovalchuk (blocked) and Weber (saved).

With fewer than two minutes to go, Justin Abdelkader makes a really good move to enter the zone and create some space before finding a trailer for a scoring opportunity that Givani Smith just misses finishing. The Wings finish the period heading to the power play as Tomas Tatar earns himself an unsporstmanlike conduct penalty for jawing at the refs on what he feels is a missed call (and he’s right).

The Score: 1-0 Montreal
The Shots: 12-6 Detroit
Standout Players:  Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm, Filip Zadina, Justin Abdelkader
The Period All Summed Up: Detroit’s power play is the worst thing that can happen to the Wings.

Second Period

Wings start the second with carryover PP time. This time they do a better job setting up, but the puck movement is a little too slow and telegraphed, giving the Habs’ PKers plenty of chances to position themselves in a way that prevents scoring chances. The best chance comes to Madison Bowey on a Mike Green point shot just wide after the penalty’s expiration.

The Wings manage to survive the follow-up push by the Habs and begin to dictate the play again shortly. This is also short-lived though, as Erne takes a roughing penalty 5:12 in with a fist-bump to the chin of Jeff Petry. Detroit feels that this isn’t dangerous enough and so Patrik Nemeth takes a boarding call 51 seconds later by hitting Lehkonen from behind. Ken and Mick aren’t happy because context. Not sure I’d be happy with this going the other way, but I’d also rather not see any Wings players go face-first into the dasher.

Nick Suzuki makes it 2-0 Habs from the net-front as the power play gets everybody chasing and Hronek is just a little slow getting to the back door from having to cover a different lane.

Detroit doesn’t get to worry about an immediate push-back because they still have a bunch of penalty time to kill (which they do). The Wings’ first chance at getting a response with the Larkin line involves a lot of 14-71-59 skating in their own zone, but does end with Fabbri getting a shot on goal (followed immediately by a Shea Weber scoring chance).

Just over the halfway point, Detroit gets their fourth PP chance as Montreal takes a faceoff violation penalty (lol).  I’ve run out of ways to describe the futility of Detroit’s power play, so I won’t.

Instead I’ll mention that just after the expiration of the power play, Frans Nielsen makes it 2-1. It looks like Givani Smith’s first NHL goal, but the replay shows Nielsen’s shot gets all the way over the line before Smith jams it in.

At least Smith got an assist.

Patrik Nemeth gives the puck away in front of Bernier on the follow up but Bernier makes a save to bail him out as the game opens up a bit. Tatar and Lehkonen get a 2-on-1 rush that barely misses the mark on an imperfect pass.  About three minutes later, Nemeth hands the puck away AGAIN in front of the net and forces Bernier to make a huge stop on Tatar.

Not long after, Mickey Redmond thanks Red Wings fans for how patient they’ve been with the rebuild and Ken Daniels gets in a good crack about how Jack Adams is for coach of the year, but anymore it’s more like coach for a year.

Hockey also happens to end the period, but nothing worth reporting.

The Score: 2-1 Habs
The Shots: 23-16 Wings Hawks (11-10)
Standout Players: Frans Nielsen, Givani Smith, NOT Patrik Nemeth
The Period All Summed Up: Not as good as the first and also not as bad.

Third Period

Less than one minute into the third period, the Wings tie it as Tyler Bertuzzi gets a puck off Ben Chiarot’s stick (thanks to Dylan Larkin’s work to forecheck), feeds it to Robby Fabbri in the slot, then watches his buddy pick the top corner. 2-2 tie.

Following up on the goal, the teams trade chances, but then Justin Abdelkader takes a penalty for backing over Lindgren in the Montreal crease. The Habs get one prime scoring chance from the slot that Tatar sends wide but mostly it’s good PK work by people whose numbers end in 1 (Glendening, Nielsen, Filppula).

The Wings start to regain momentum but end up falling behind on the very next Montreal rush as Hronek blocks a cross-ice pass from Mete by deflecting it into the net off his skate. 3-2 Canadiens.

Montreal follows up with another great chance for Tatar that Bernier slides over to stop. We follow this with an immediate whistle for slashing to Nemeth. The Wings kill this without much puckering and get back to work trying to reestablish the tie. Notably, they try doing this from within their own zone for the first minute, which is quite hard.

The following minute goes slightly better as the line featuring Glendening and Zadina earns some nice chances, but the real improvement comes just after. Frans Nielsen takes a pass building speed through center for a breakaway and he dekes Lindgren off before potting the backhander to make it a 3-3 game.

Nice combo feed from Helm and Green to Nielsen.

Bernier has to make a big stop on Mete coming out of the corner and we tick below seven minutes. Larkin’s line continues to be put out as the line to provide answers and they generally do a good job fighting uphill to get things going right for the follow-up. The specific follow-up here is actually Larkin’s next shift smelling blood after Shea Weber falls down. The crowd really gets into the game fresh off singing ‘Country Roads’.


2:40 left and Nemeth is daring the refs to call him for a third penalty. I would rather he not do this, but it works because the penalty is not called.

Montreal pulls Lindgren with two minutes remaining. Glendening misses a backhand lob at the empty net, Weber misses a bomb from the point at the other end. Petry does the same. Larkin gets the final clear and the Wings come away with the victory.

Final Score: 4-3 Wings
The Shots: 30-26 Detroit Hawks (7-10)
Standout Players: Nielsen, Filppula, Helm, Bernier, Zadina, Larkin
The Period All Summed Up: It’s an anti-collapse!

Next up the Wings welcome Ottawa to town on Friday.