POSTGAME: COREAU GETS THE ‘W’

Wings fans are desperate for a christmas miracle in Florida. Both southern division rivals have taken the gears to the Wings so far this season. The Panthers have been on a bit of a dip since firing Gallant, so no need to be all Scrouge about this one. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a little hope in this one.

FIRST PERIOD

The Wings looked like they hit the ice with a ‘just survive’ mentality. Simple hockey with safe plays, folding back in the neutral zone and getting pucks deep. This isn’t exactly Detroit’s forte though, much more the game of teams with exceptional blue lines. Another strategy that doesn’t seem to really work for the leagues 15th best PK is taking three penalties in the first frame. Whether or not there were some soft calls in there, the fact is two neutral zone penalties are no good no matter how you look at them. 

By the time the Panthers were given their third opportunity, they were ready to pounce:

Reilly Smith buries the shot on a power play and the Wings found themselves leaving the first period down a goal.

SECOND PERIOD

After a dull first we finally got to see some action. Right off the bat, just 12 seconds into the frame, Detroit’s best line went to work:

What an effort by Zetterberg to tip that puck to Mantha. Stellar finish by the kid as well. Mantha has thrived playing alongside Z so far this year that you have to think that with the return of Abdelkader and Helm in the new year, he’s made some very tough decisions for the coaching staff. 

Much like the other visits so far this season to Florida though, the momentum didn’t last very long for Detroit. After failing to push the Panthers out of the zone, Demers manages to net this floater with traffic in front:

A weak one, but when your goalie can’t see it that’s what happens. 

This period had some fire and excitement. Both teams went back and fourth. We even got a dose of some vintage Kronwall:

Reilly Smith in the dressing room like, shaking his head, trying to think back to what he could have done to Matheson over the last month that he would throw him a pass like that. 

The Panthers took two penalties back to back and of course, Detroit’s power play failed to execute on both. How long can these special teams continue to underwhelm before some action is taken? Sheahan is playing on the team’s top unit despite not having a single goal this entire season. 

Every time this team gets going they just seem to find a way to bury themselves. After getting trapped on the ice for a long shift, Florida’s fourth line went out there and somehow managed to absolutely dominate play. This time instead of a suicide pass, Matheson opted for one where the recipient wouldn’t die:

The Panthers would go ahead and score another but somehow the goal was called back for goalie interference despite no one touching Coreau at any point. Hey, we’ll take anything at this point though. The period would end though as a 3-1 Florida lead. Between goal challenges, five minor penalties and overall sloppy play, any momentum the period seemed to start with found a way to slowly die.

THIRD PERIOD

Andreas Athanasiou is, in my personal opinion, the best forward on this whole team. Through the first two periods this guy was flying. A beauty wrap around in the second barely stuffed by Luongo, a missed break away and just seemingly being all over the ice whenever he’s out there had anyone watching feeling like he had something in the tank for tonight. After another great forecheck he managed to feather this beauty pass to Drew Miller who as of late has been a healthy scratch, finishing this one with the fire of a guy who doesn’t want to go back to that press box:

The goal had the team buzzing. It’s been great to see Nick Jensen take his time with the big club seriously and really get going. He’s a great skater with good vision which is enough to standout on this team’s blue line. 

With just over six minutes to go, one of the team’s best points-per-60-minutes performers, Gustav Nyquist gets a great shot off with Nielsen there to bury the rebound:

A great sigh of relief after Nyquist spent the week getting dragged through the mud by certain Detroit media outlets. Regardless, the puck is in the net and the Red Wings found themselves with a rare 2+ goal performance. 

OVERTIME

Detroit is, surprisingly, a team this year that doesn’t mind going to the shootout. After Athanasiou took a bad penalty in OT things were looking grim. But hey, the Wings killed the 4v3 opportunity and a lack of great looks on either end sent this one to shootout. 

SHOOTOUT

Athanasiou: X

Trochek: X

Vanek: SCORES

Barkov: SCORES

Nielsen: 

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Bjugstad: 

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WHERE TO NEXT?

Sometimes when you’re down, I mean really down, you get a little rejuvenation. That spark you needed to just keep it on the rails. Sometimes you get that disallowed goal that even you can’t figure out, but you just know you’ll take it and ten more like it if it means getting the points. 

It’s not all good though. They still managed to give up a crucial point to a team they’re chasing in the standings. While Coreau got his first NHL win, he struggled in the net, specifically when it came to rebounds. Thankfully, this was one of those nights where the bounces went their way and the Wings can roll into Christmas feeling confident with getting that Florida monkey off their backs. 

A game next week vs. Buffalo will be crucial after christmas followed up by an equally clutch game in Ottawa next Thursday. Coming out of these three divisional games, the Wings need to capitalize fully and begin to salvage this season.