Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski (USA Today Sports)
Breathe. Breathe. Wow, they sure made that terrifying didn’t they. Every game has become a must-win for the Red Wings at this point of the season, but when you’re playing teams that you should beat it is even more important. The Red Wings have had a tough time getting off to good starts and scoring first has been an even bigger struggle. They finally got off to a nice start tonight, let’s break it down.
It was a typical start for the Red Wings. They didn’t look sharp and the two teams traded chances, but Petr Mrazek stood tall in the Red Wings’ goal. It wasn’t until late in the first that Riley Sheahan got his stick on the puck in front of the Habs’ cage and lifted his 10th of the season over Ben Scrivens.
Overall, the Red Wings headed to the intermission being out-shot 13-11, but with a 1-0 lead. Thursday’s game was reminiscent of old school hockey. Something we’re not used to seeing. There were a lot of big hits, scrums and even a few scraps. The first tilt came early in the second period after Brendan Smith delivered a devastating hit on Stefan Matteau’s face.
Our own Sam Blazer had it covered right away and some think that the Red Wings’ defenseman could face supplemental discipline. Sheahan scored the first one, something we haven’t seen enough of this season, but someone we’ve rarely seen score is fourth line centre Luke Glendening who got on the board minutes after the Smith hit.
When you’re offence isn’t scoring as much as it should, it is huge to get contributions from your third and fourth lines. After a so-so first period, the Red Wings were flying in the second period and ended up outshooting the Canadiens 21-5. Literally moments after the Glendening goal, Sheahan (yeah, again) added his second of the night to give Detroit a 3-0 advantage.
The Red Wings power play looked really, really bad in their first two chances of the night (first period) but they were able to cash on their third chance when rookie Anthony Mantha scored his first career NHL goal on a rebound in front. It was his Joe Louis debut with friends and family in attendance. A huge goal for Mantha and a huge lead for the Red Wings.
We should have went to the third period of 5-0, but Scrivens absolutely robbed Andreas Athanasiou. We don’t need to see it again. So, we head to the third period up 4-0. We got this no problem right? No sweat? Wrong. Everyone’s favourite defenseman Jonathan Ericsson decided to keep the opposing team onside and then immediately turn it over to Tomas Plekanec, who beat Mrazek with a soft but strange goal. I won’t show you the replay, because you’ll be mad at #52.
OK, only 4-1 still no issue. Can’t always shut them out… Four minutes later, Mrazek made everyone wonder if he has two left hands when he had a really difficult time catching a soft shot from the point, leaving it in the slot for Paul Byron to put home. *starts sweating*
Later in the third Justin Abdelkader and Max Pacioretty got into a scrum and both went to the box. Following some 4-on-4 hockey, Pacioretty left the penalty box and scored a goal, making Red Wings fans nervous and left me wondering if Mrazek had a few shots of vodka in the room in between periods. The goal itself wasn’t terrible, but Mrazek decided to freak out and basically forced Jeff Blashill challenge a goal that had absolutely no business being challenged.
The Red Wings finally decided to wake up in the third period and played some better hockey. Despite nearly blowing a 4-0 lead, Detroit held on to win 4-3. Even better news? The Panthers beat the Bruins 4-1, pulling us one-point behind Boston with a game-in-hand.
Why did we win? The second period. We have rarely seen the Red Wings dominate a period, but that was the case in the second period. We were all over Montreal and scored three goals to give us a commanding lead with 20 minutes left. Secondary scoring was key for the Red Wings and it was a good thing because Mrazek looked shaky.
MOTOR CITY MVP
As much as I would like to give the MVP to Mantha, who played well and scored his first career NHL goal, the Motor City MVP is Sheahan. He scored two goals on four shots and owned a 63.16 CF%. The goals were his 10th and 11th of the season and it’d be nice to see him get to 15 down the stretch.
The Red Wings will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at 2 p.m. on Saturday. It will be the third and final meeting between the two teams and Detroit will be looking for their first win against the Penguins. They’ve lost the first two by being outscored 11-5.