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WINGS POST-GAME: NO MORE HOLIDAY HANGOVER

Detroit returned from the Christmas break with a bit of a Holiday hangover as they dropped Wednesday’s game to the Devils by a score of 3-1. It was their third loss in a row so, with the Rangers rolling into town, they were looking to steal a win. With Jimmy Howard and Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes, we’re always in for a good match-up. Lundqvist got the best of the Wings the last time these two teams played, but this time it was Howard who emerged victorious as the Red Wings snapped their losing streak with a 3-2 shootout win.

THE RUNDOWN

Detroit got off to a fast start as Tyler Bertuzzi immediately made an impact on the top line, setting up two shots on his first shift. On an early powerplay, Gustav Nyquist almost scored on a breakaway, but Lundqvist made a huge pad save. Nyquist had a really good start as did Dylan Larkin, who created 2-3 scoring chances over the course of the period.

The Rangers struck first on a goal from David Desharnais. This whole situation was the result of a poor play along the boards by Danny DeKeyser.

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It was an interesting period as the Wings dominated the first half and the Rangers dominated the second. The Rangers escaped the period with a 9-7 edge in shots, though the teams had the same amount of 5v5 shots (6).

The second period was better for the Red Wings. They had to endure a penalty kill on a call that was really weak. Howie was caught out of position and slid across the crease. He hit the post, knocking the net off and was called for delay of game.Detroit escaped unscathed, though, and even managed to tie the game almost halfway through the period on a beautiful pass from Dylan Larkin that was picked up by Andreas Athanasiou deep in the Rangers zone. He made no mistake in burying it past Lundqvist.

Larkin and Athanasiou were on fire in the second period. They had all kinds of energy and were creating all sorts of chances. They were by far the best players on the ice in the second. Detroit escaped the period with an 11-9 edge in shots. Athanasiou took five of those eleven shots.

In the third period, the Rangers started to take back control of the game. Only 2:35 into the period, Vinni Lettieri scored his first NHL goal to put his team up 2-1.

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Not a great play by Xavier Ouellet who coughed the puck up as he tried to clear the zone. Luckily for him, captain came through a mere five minutes later when Zetterberg scored a highlight reel goal off a pass from Nyquist:

Athanasiou continued to make Lundqvist work as he put up a whopping 8 shots against. The Rangers took a series of penalties towards the end of the game that left them shorthanded for the start of overtime. Unfortunately, the Wings couldn’t take advantage of the 4-on-3 opportunity and 3-on-3 play resumed, something Detroit has had a lot of trouble with this season.

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They escaped tonight, though, as the game went to a shootout. It was Frans Nielsen’s goal on the first attempt that would seal the deal as the Red Wings took a big 2 points home.

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THE STATS

This was one of the better games Detroit has played in the last little while, though they did struggle in the third period. Jimmy Howard faced a total of 39 shots and turned away 37 of them. It’s safe to say that he’s the reason why Detroit won tonight. At 5v5, the Wings were out-shot, out-attempted, and out-chanced. It’s safe to say they were out-played by the Rangers at even-strength, but they managed to steal the win anyways.

MOTOR CITY MVP

Tonight’s Motor City MVP is Andreas Athanasiou. He played a fantastic game on Dylan Larkin’s wing, logging a total of 20:59 of ice time and recording a career high 8 shots throughout the course of the game. In addition to his one goal, Athanasiou’s passing and awareness were both on point as he set up some beautiful chances as well. I think it’s safe to say that AA is best on the wing, not at centre, and can manage more than nine minutes of ice time per game.

NEXT UP

The Wings are almost done with 2017. They have one more game – a New Year’s Eve showdown! – against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Little Caesars Arena. Puck drop is at 7:00 P.M. ET and you can watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit or ATTNSN-PT if you’re in the Pittsburgh area. If you choose not to watch the game because, y’know, it’s New Year’s Eve, then be sure to visit WingsNation.com in your hungover state for the recap. As always, Brock Seguin will have the pre-game report early in the afternoon on Sunday.