In the middle of the trash pile known as the Atlantic division, the Red Wings look to break the hearts of Leafs fans everywhere and get out of their slump of slumps.
This game started out to a hot start. The Leafs seemed determined to get out of their scoring slump as soon as they can – and they did. With a hard shot at the point from Andreas Borgman, the puck hits some bodies and dribbles past Howard to give the lead to the visitors.
Can't tell for sure but I think this hits Witkowski in front of the net before going in pic.twitter.com/PT3tgT67vp— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) December 16, 2017
The Wings were being dominated for the majority of the first period even with both teams earning one powerplay opportunity each. The Leafs did outshoot the Wings 12-7 in the first twenty minutes of the game. Although there were a few clear-cut turnovers in the Wings favour, they were unable to convert on any of those slight chances and the rest of the standard play – the Leafs took over.
Heading into the second period, the Wings just needed a quick goal to get some momentum going and potentially turn this game around.
Just over five minutes into the period and Danny DeKeyser pounces on a loose puck opportunity led by Zetterberg to get the equalizer and cause Leafs twitter to panic. Through the flailing of the Leafs (mainly Roman Polak) in their own end, DeKeyser scoots by and blasts it into the top corner to beat Curtis McElhinney.
A lot is happening on this Danny Dekeyser goal pic.twitter.com/hFsi9IQTvR— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) December 16, 2017
That was DeKeyser’s first point of the season. Five more years. That’s all I have to say.
After Kronwall got sent to the box for pushing Connor Brown into an empty net to prevent a 2-on-1 goal, the Wings were put on their notoriously offensive penalty kill – and it happened again. The sixth shorthanded goal for the Wings this season came at the hands of Trevor Daley to give the Wings the much-deserved lead in the second period. It feels good to be happy again.
Trevor Daley's first goal as a Red Wings and only his 3rd point on the season. Shorthanded goal for Detroit, their 6th of the season to tie for the lead in the NHL pic.twitter.com/LdF8RbCbYi— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) December 16, 2017
Daley sniped that puck like a stake through the heart to Leafs fans everywhere.
For the remainder of the second period, the Wings put pucks towards the net more than twice the amount the visitors were able to. By the 60-minute mark, the Wings were leading the game in shots 20-17 – meaning they went 13-5 in the second. A much improved offensive output compared to the first period.
Going into the final period, Wings fan everywhere were met with flashbacks to every late-game lead that they have given up this season. Possibly leading to yet another well-played game by the Wings, but a game they eventually lost.
Within the first minutes of the third, every Wings fan thought that they were able to relax at least a little bit more for the rest of the night. Larkin burst up the wing all by himself, cutting to the middle and firing it short-side on McElhinney. But unfortunately it was just slightly off – hitting the crossbar behind the Leafs goalie and back out into play. Just a couple minutes later, Athanasiou shot a rocket of a shot a little too powerful and it rang around the post and crossbar like a stereotypical Texan mother rings the dinnerbell. Looking like a sure goal, players on both teams seemed to stop playing and believed it was in for a few seconds. The Wings just couldn’t catch a break.
Athanasiou is close but no cigar pic.twitter.com/1nTJ7EAllX— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) December 16, 2017
McElhinney is the luckiest goalie in the world right now.
Eventually that luck ran out and our good Slovakian boy Tomas Tatar scores off the rush on the powerplay. Led by Zetterberg fighting off the bad guys against the boards and making a nice little fake-shot slap-pass to Tatar to give the Wings some nice breathing room with just ten minutes left to go.
A purdy powerplay goal from the FIRST UNIT. Tatar with the goal pic.twitter.com/LbgrhPb5IX— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) December 16, 2017
God, Henrik is beautiful.
Following this, the Wings did an actually good job on the penalty kill to put any hopes that Leafs fans have of a win to bed. More than two minutes with an empty net and they barely got any significant chances to beat Howard.
Hey now they won two in the last eleven! Progress!
The Wings clearly took control midway through the game. A rough beginning to the game turns into a powerful performance by this group. Without that quick little surge in shot attempts the Leafs had at the very end of the game because of the empty net, the Red Wings took control after they secured the lead in the game. Uncommon to see teams keep a high shooting pace after the attain the lead, but that’s how you win hockey games.
A strong performance from Tatar as he went +17/-8 in Corsi while he was on the ice 5v5, for a strong 68% CF%.
Motor City MVP
Oh Captain, My Captain. Zetterberg was my MVP for his strong performance all night long and netting two assists. His pass to Tatar for that crucial powerplay goal alone is enough to crown him the best player on the ice tonight.
Henrik showed that old man strength is a real thing against this young Leafs team. I bet he can make a mean backyard deck.
The Wings have a big break ahead of them, not playing until Tuesday when they head to Brooklyn to face the surprisingly-not-terrible New York Islanders – also to look at some new cars as they skate by.
Puck drop is at 7 PM and you can watch it on Fox Sports – Detroit.
As always, our Brock Seguin will have the pre-game report for you here on WingsNation.com