| Detroit Free Press
Sam Gagner: Why Detroit Red Wings deserved something to feel good about
Detroit Red Wings forward Sam Gagner, Feb. 25, 2021.
Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press
Sam Gagner scored a hat trick to provide the Detroit Red Wings with their most productive outing of the season.
After being shutout in their previous outing against the Nashville Predators, the Wings responded Thursday at Little Caesars Arena with a well-earned 5-2 victory.
It marked the first time since opening week they have won twice in three games, and the five goals were a season high.
STILL NO PP GOAL: Red Wings, Predators are perfectly, miserably matched
Bobby Ryan assisted on Gagner’s first two goals. Luke Glendening got the scoring started in the first period. Jonathan Bernier made his third straight start, and did what he’s done all season in giving his teammates a chance to win. Bernier was especially good withstanding the Predators’ superior play to start the game. Once the Wings got going, they did a good job sustaining at attack.
Adam Erne made it 4-2 with 3:38 left to play, and Gagner added an empty-net goal 34 seconds after that.
The Wings gave up a power play goal in the first period but killed two penalties in the second. Their own power play continued to disappoint, going 0-for-3. It’s the 14th straight game without a power play goal for the Wings, who last scored with the man advantage on Jan. 28 in Dallas.
The Wings (6–13–3) head on the road next, playing a weekend series at Chicago.
Six eggs, two baskets, one scramble
Having scored just six goals their previous four games, the Wings made a few tweaks to the lines. Most notably, Robby Fabbri moved from centering the second line to playing wing on a line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha. Vladislav Namestnikov, who had centered the third line, moved up to center Bobby Ryan and Filip Zadina. That essentially assembled all of the team’s skilled forwards on two lines, but it was Glendening who put the Wings on the board. During a scramble in front of Pekka Rinne, Glendening was able to direct a backhand into the net despite being on his knees, at 4:55 of the first period.
Two power plays, one goal
The Wings’ drought on the power play grew to 0-for-38 (dating to the third period of Jan. 28) as they squandered a chance to build momentum three minutes after Glendening’s goal. They didn’t even force a save from Rinne. The Predators schooled them on how it’s done when they next went on a man advantage. Mikael Granlund had the puck behind the net, sent it to a teammate, and moved out front. Roman Josi used a screen to send the puck to Granlund, who took one shot, then collected the rebound and scored on a backhand, at 14:15.
Two firsts, two goals
Gagner hadn’t lacked for chances and was due for one to go in. It was a remarkable goal. Bobby Ryan, a former first-round pick like Gagner, won a puck battle against Granlund in the right corner and got the puck to Gagner. He was below the goal line when he fired the puck, which somehow snuck in on Rinne, at 8:48 of the second period. Ryan fed Gagner again on the second goal, which Gagner banged in off Rinne.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.