Wings Post-Game 11/19/2017: Av You Met MacKinnon?

After a solid week that saw them go 2-0-0, the Wings hosted their former rivals the Colorado Avalanche tonight at Little Caesars Arena. To put it bluntly, the Avs aren’t a terrifying team right now, but this writer made a friendly wager on the game with Avs fan Carl Landra of The 4th Line Podcast. The Wings looking to extend their winning streak to three games, but I also needed them to win for my own gambling purposes. Let’s see how they did.

The Rundown

The first half of the first period was pretty quiet. Niklas Kronwall got a good chance streaking down the middle and putting a shot on Jonathan Bernier. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog both got shots off on Jimmy Howard, but Howie was in top form.

It was Detroit who would strike first at 14:01 of the period when Dylan Larkin was hustling in the offensive zone. He fired a shot on net off a pass from Xavier Ouellet. It hit Justin Abdelkader and re-directed into the net.

Right after the goal, Danny DeKeyser took a hooking penalty. Nothing came on the powerplay, but Darren Helm and Frans Nielsen had a nifty chance on a shorthanded 2-on-1.

With sixteen seconds left in the period, Detroit was ready to head off with the lead, but Erik Johnson had other plans. He wired a shot from the blueline and snuck it through Howie’s five hole, tying the game at 1.

The Wings were on their heels to start the second period and, to make matters worse, they spent most of it in the penalty box. First, it was Anthony Mantha who sat for holding. Then, a minute into that penalty kill, Frans Nielsen went for tripping, giving the Avs a 5-on-3. They managed to kill it off thanks to some superb saves by Jimmy Howard.

There was some drama at the halfway point as Mike Green took exception to how Blake Comeau had hit him close to the boards. Green sat for roughing and the Red Wings had to kill off another penalty where Helm and Nielsen got another 2-on-1 opportunity.

With a minute left in the period, Athanasiou got a breakaway from centre ice, blowing past the Avs defense, and undressed Bernier for his fifth of the season.

Before the period ended, Miko Rantanen took a tripping penalty against Mike Green that would send the Wings on the powerplay for the start of the third period.

Detroit wasn’t able to convert on the man advantage, but the Nyquist – Zetterberg – Tatar line had a shift early on that created a ton of chances. Moving the puck around down low, they had Bernier all over the ice and he got lucky enough to get his pads on the puck. Towards the end of the shift, Nyquist’s stick came up and caught an Avalanche player in the face, sending Goose to the box for high-sticking. The team killed the penalty, again thanks to Jimmy Howard.

At the halfway mark of the period, Mikko Rantanen interfered with Trevor Daley and he’d sit another 2 minutes. It was his third penalty of the game. This time, the Red Wings converted.

It was Kronwall’s first goal of the season and his first powerplay point in 144 games. It should have been enough to put the Avalanche away, but they weren’t done yet. A mere two minutes later, Nail Yakupov wired a shot on net, beating Jimmy Howard short side.

The Wings weren’t able to respond as the Avs were owning the play. In the final minute of the period, with an empty net and all of the momentum in the world, Tyson Barrie slid a pass across to Nathan MacKinnon who was waiting at the top of the circle. He fired a rocket that redirected off Carl Soderbergh in the slot and found it’s way behind Howie.

All tied up, my heart seized at the thought of losing my bet. Overtime was already stressful enough, but layer on losing a bet to an Avs fan and it’s ten times worse. Detroit didn’t even really get a great chance in OT. Mike Green split the defense at one point, but he was blocked by Darren Helm in the slot and they couldn’t bury it. It was Nathan MacKinnon who would put the Wings out of their misery. Trevor Daley missed a shot deep in the Avs zone creating a 2-on-1 going back the other way. Instead of passing to his partner, MacKinnon fired a shot on net and beat Howard short side.

The Avs win. The Wings lose. My bet is over. Look for my punishment on the 4th Line Podcast.

The Stats

This game was not a good look for the Red Wings, especially considering they had a day of rest yesterday and the Avs were playing in Nashville. The Avalanche dominated the 5v5 play all game and Detroit couldn’t stay out of the box. The only chance of an even game was in the first period, but the Wings lost it before the buzzer even sounded. If it weren’t for Jimmy Howard, this score would have been much worse and Detroit wouldn’t have left with the loser point.

Motor City MVP

Tonight’s Motor City MVP is Jimmy Howard. Howie has been a big part of why the Red Wings are where they are this season and tonight was no different. He turned away 33 of 37 Colorado shots, maintaining his top-5 goalie ranking. One thing is for certain, if it weren’t for Jimmy and his elite play, the Wings would be much further down the standings.

Special shoutout to Carl Landra who won our bet. I can’t say I’m happy for you, but it was certainly an entertaining game.

What’s Next

The Wings get a couple days of rest before hosting the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday evening. The last time these two teams met, Petr Mrazek recorded a shutout in a definitive 4-0 victory. Dylan Larkin did a masterful job of shutting down Connor McDavid. We’ll see if he can do it again. Game time on Wednesday is 7:00 P.M. ET and you can catch the game on Fox Sports Detroit or SNW if you’re watching from Canada.

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