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Wings Postgame 10/16/2017: Capital L

With the news of Andreas Athanasiou signing his one-year deal breaking a few hours prior to puck drop, Wings Nation was steeping in emotion. AA, one of the Wings young speedsters, would soon be making his return. But first, some roster moves need to be made to be cap compliant. In the midst of all this uncertainty, the players who are actually under contract prepared themselves for the Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, capping off a tough second week of their season. Let’s see how they did.

The Rundown

The first period got off to a sluggish start for the Red Wings, but they managed to keep up with the Caps, exchanging chances through the first five minutes. The Caps were the first to draw a penalty as Devante Smith-Pelley went to the box for tripping, but the Wings were unable to convert on the powerplay. Petr Mrazek made a massive save at the 8-minute mark of the period and managed to keep the Wings in the game, turning away 14 Capitals shots. With 13 shots of their own, Detroit wasn’t far behind.

The second period got off to a much better start for Detroit as Darren Helm turned on the wheels and scored a shorthanded goal at the 4:31 marker. It was Helm’s first goal of the season and Detroit’s second at 4-on-5.

Detroit was outshot in the second period 11-8 as Mrazek continued to keep them in it, coming up with several big saves on Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Darren Helm had another chance develop in the slot of the Washington zone, but the play was blown dead as Martin Frk took an interference call. The Caps wouldn’t convert, though. They would find the back of the Red Wings net with fifty seconds to go in the period, tying the game 1-1 heading into the third.

Before the second period ended, Washington took a tripping penalty. In the opening two minutes of the third period, Washington scored a shorthanded goal to take a 2-1 lead. The play developed off a poor pinch by Mike Green, allowing Jay Beagle to chip the puck past him and score on the breakaway.

Detroit wasn’t ready to accept defeat. It only took them four minutes to respond, with a beautiful deflection by Tomas Tatar to find the top corner behind Braden Holtby.

The Red Wings continued to be outshot, but a delay of game penalty to the Capitals in the final eight minutes of the third period offered them a chance to take the lead. And you bet your ass they converted! Henrik Zetterberg gained the offensive zone and fed a cross ice pass to Tatar who made no mistake and buried his second goal of the game to give the Wings a 3-2 lead.

Both teams continued to exchange chances until Dylan Larkin took a delay of game penalty in the final three minutes of the game. This prompted the Capitals to pull Holtby, meaning the Wings would have to go 4-on-6 against a team that has Alex Ovechkin on the ice.

Detroit almost made it out alive, too. Helm just missed an empty net opportunity and it ended up being a costly one. Immediately after, the Caps worked the puck in deep and Oshie directed a beautiful pass into the empty net, tying the game at 3. This one would be going to overtime.

Not long into the overtime period, Trevor Daley took a penalty for tripping Alex Ovechkin, who was cutting into the slot for a shot. Ovi would make Daley pay for it, too, as he buried a snapshot from the blueline less than a minute into the powerplay.

The Red Wings would lose this one 4-3. Is Athanasiou almost back!?!

The Stats

All in all, this was a pretty even game. The Wings kept pace with one of the best teams in the league. You’ve gotta think that once they add a speedy young winger with hands into the mix that they’ll only get better.

Nobody expected them to outplay the Caps – and they didn’t – but they held it together much better than I thought they would. The second period wasn’t great for them – the penalties didn’t help – but the first and third were pretty even. More hockey like this could take them a long way this season, but it won’t take them all the way. They’ll need to be better against the best teams in the league.

Motor City MVP

Gotta be Tomas Tatar. With one goal and two assists going into tonight’s game, Tatar broke out in a big way, finding the back of the net twice and keeping the Red Wings in it. With a shiny new contract this year, Tatar is expected to put up big goals like these in important games. Hopefully this is a positive sign for him going forward and there will be many more of these goals to come.

What’s Next

The Wings will get a day off tomorrow as the Vancouver Canucks travel to Detroit for their first ever game at Little Caesars Arena. No – Athanasiou will not be dressing for this game. He’ll undergo a physical on Monday and still needs to work out some visa issues before he can suit up. Game time on Sunday is 7:00 P.M. EST. You can catch the game on FS-D or SNE if you’re in Canada.

As always, Brock Seguin will have the pre-game report early Sunday afternoon on WingsNation.com.