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Wings Post Game: All Hail Howie

The Red Wings won their first game of the season against the Wild on Thursday by a 4-2 score.  Tonight they faced off against the Ottawa Senators, a team that was an overtime goal away from going to the Stanley Cup Finals last year.  The Senators are coming off of a 5-4 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals.  Detroit looked to build on their strong special teams play while continuing to get strong goaltending from Jimmy Howard.  Luke Witkowski drew into the lineup for the first time as David Booth made way. 

The refs took this game over as 11 penalties were called and countless players were kicked out of the face off circle.  The Red Wings would eventually win this game 2-1 in a shootout.

The Rundown

The first period started fast with both teams trading chances up and down the ice.  Then the penalties started.  The Red Wings penalty kill looked very good, especially Dylan Larkin.  He was transitioning shut down play into offense on the penalty kill including this shorthanded chance:

When play was even both the Zetterberg line and the FML line created chances in Ottawa’s zone.  Larkin and Mantha did a great job of playing off of each other with Frk looking for open space in the slot.  Larkin overall looked fantastic in the first period.  Last year, he often found himself using his speed to drive wide and would end up at in impossible angle to create any offense.  This year, he seems to be using his speed to back off defensemen, then he slows up and looks for the correct option, be it a pass or a shot.  The bottom two lines did nothing in this first period (granted the 4th line only got one even strength shift).  That $14 million 3rd line is looking terrible as Helm and Abdelkader are absolute non-factors out there.  Frans Nielsen got one last chance shorthanded to close out the first period but was stoned by Craig Anderson:

The second period started with the Red Wings still on the penalty kill.  They killed that off and there was finally a bit of sustained 5 on 5 play.  Howard made a huge save on a Ryan Dzingel breakaway:

Again the top two lines buzzed around the offensive zone and the bottom two lines were hemmed in their own end.  Ericsson looked really bad, but the rest of the defense looked surprisingly solid.  Trevor Daley did got caught up leaving Dekeyser to defend some odd man rushes a few times.  Howard was outstanding in net and got a little bit of help from the posts on multiple occasions.  When the Wings were on the power play, the Zetterberg unit looked dangerous with Tatar especially looking threatening on a few chances.

The third period started with Howard again bailing out the Wings more than once.  It was a pretty uneventful period until the closing minutes.  On a play that saw Ottawa’s Fredrick Claesson bobble a puck, Larkin fed Martin Frk to open the scoring:

As usual the Wings’ gave up a late lead on a terrible Jonathan Ericsson turnover that ended in a Derick Brassard redirection.  First the turnover:

And the goal:

The Red Wings looked terrible in overtime with Larkin and Tatar the only guys causing any real noise.  The Red Wings were called on a pretty questionable too many men on the ice penalty, but the period ended and the game headed to a shootout.

The Red Wings won the shootout 1-0 with the only goal coming from the Danish Backhand of Judgment:

The Stats

Possession was even most of the game with the Red Wings pulling ahead late.  Keep in mind that this is all situation Corsi in a game with much of the game played on special teams.

Motor City MVP

This one is easy…it’s Howard.  Jimmy kept the Wings in the game all night and stopped 37/38 shots.  For the second straight game Howard won the game for the Wings.  The game was pretty even but Ottawa definitely had the better scoring chances.  If Howard keeps this up, our chances at Rasmus Dahlin may fade away.  We will see if he can stay healthy, but Howard has been fantastic since the start of last season.

Up Next

The Red Wings go to Dallas to face off against the revamped Stars.  This will be a real test for the Wings and Jimmy Howard as Dallas sports one of the most fearsome top sixes in the NHL.  Puck drop is 8:30 ET on next Tuesday, October 10th and the game can be seen on FS-D or FS-SW.  Look for the pre-game here on WingsNation.com.