Wings Postgame: Another game, another third period breakdown

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Photo Credit: Rick Ostenoski/USA TODAY SPORTS

After being dealt an embarrassing 7-2 loss by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon, it became abundantly clear to the Detroit Red Wings that every game until the end of the season must be treated as a playoff game. Any loss could be the final nail in a coffin being hammered by the Philadelphia Flyers.

Now, the Wings got lucky when the Flyers were downed 2-1 by the Arizona Coyotes later Saturday night, but the pesky Flyers also had a game Monday night against the Winnipeg Jets, a team already eliminated from this year’s playoff race. Thankfully, the Wings pulled two points out tonight, but it took some drama to get there.

I checked in on that game many times throughout the Detroit-Buffalo game. As the first period got underway, the Jets and Flyers were still tied 0-0.  

THE RUNDOWN

In the pre-game interview with Pierre McGuire, Dylan Larkin kept saying that the Wings needed to get off to a good start. And get off to a good start they did, outshooting the Sabres 12-5. While they didn’t necessarily pepper Buffalo goaltender Chad Johnson with shots, the Wings looked competitive, handling the puck with confidence and setting up the play for the most optimal shooting opportunity.

Late in the first period, with Josh Gorges sitting a minor for interfering with Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin netted his 22nd goal of the season. Detroit had some good pressure on the PP, quickly moving the puck around, when Larkin picked up a rebound off a Zetterberg shot from the slot. This goal made Larkin the highest scoring Red Wings rookie since Zetterberg put up 44 points in 2002-2003.

At the end of the first period, I powered up my Score app to see – UGH – the Flyers were up 1-0. Come on Jets!

The second period in Detroit was more of the same with the Red Wings controlling most of the play. The Sabres did a good job of locking down defensively as they were outshot by Detroit 9-4, and any chances Buffalo got seemed to come from either Evander Kane or Jack Eichel. The Wings’ pressure paid off at almost the halfway mark of the period when Riley Sheahan carried the puck coast-to-coast and snapped a quick little shot over the glove of Chad Johnston for his 3rd goal in 3 games.

Let’s check in on the score of the Philadelphia game… 2-2! Oh thank God! Go Jets Go!

As the third period got underway, Tomas Tatar got an amazing chance in front of the net one minute in. Unfortunately, he couldn’t convert.

At about the ten minute mark, NBC cut to a replay of the Jets-Flyers overtime. Please be a Jets goal. Please be a Jets goal….. DAMN YOU, GIROUX!!

The Red Wings, despite controlling most of the play, couldn’t convert in the third period until Luke Glendening netted an empty netter at the 17:00 mark. That should do it for the Wings…. If this was a team that didn’t stress the hell out of its fans.

Ten seconds after Glendening’s empty net goal, Zemgus Girgensons buried one past Howard, stealing the shutout from him. That’s okay. They did well. One goal isn’t that bad. But the Sabres weren’t done. Less than 50 seconds later, Sam Reinhart buried one off a feed from defenseman Casey Nelson.

The Sabres pushed hard for those last two and a half minutes, but Detroit held on for the 3-2 win. Just barely.

THE STATS

CORSI chart

The Red Wings controlled play for most of the game, but that spike at the end of the third period from Buffalo is very concerning. This is the second game in four days where the Wings nearly blew their lead in the third period.

MOTOR CITY MVP

Until that breakdown at the end of the game, I was going to give it to Jimmy Howard for his shutout. He ended up finishing with a .900 SV%.

Instead, I’m going to have to go with Riley Sheahan for his beautiful snipe to put the Wings up 2-0. I just loved the confidence he had carrying the puck up the ice and into the Buffalo zone on this goal. Here’s hoping he can keep up this stellar play.

UP NEXT

The Wings close off their season series with the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday night in Montreal. Puck drop is 7:30PM EST. You can catch the game on Fox Sports Detroit or SNE if you’re in Canada. If you can’t get to a TV, you can listen on the radio at WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket.

For those interested – and you all should be at this point – the Flyers play the President’s Trophy-clinching Washington Capitals on Wednesday. Game is on NBCSN. 

  • greyhoundsrfast

    Looked like Howard was badly screened by his own guys on the 2nd goal. Abby and Glendening doubled up on the fake shot block, and Howard had no idea that the guy had actually passed the puck. That sort of stuff happens 6-on-5 though.

  • TheGrindLine

    Nick you’re good at breaking down, but not as good as the Red Wings! ooooooooooo! For real though, wtf was everyone doing on the Sabres first goal? just watching. 2 pts, let’s smash the Habs now.