As the Detroit Red Wings wind down the season, one of the points of emphasis has been the opportunity for young players to earn minutes.
The Wings spent much of their Saturday matinee at Little Caesars Arena defending, trying to hold off the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bag Lightning. The Bolts are in need of points as they battle for home-ice in the playoffs. The Wings are done with their season in three more games.
Thomas Greiss made 33 saves through overtime and Jakub Vrana, Filip Zadina, Valtteri FIlppula and Sam Gagner scored in an eight-round shootout to give the Wings a 1-0 victory.
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The Wings (18-26-9) struggled to generate offense in regulation, registering in single digits in shots on net after 45 minutes. Their lineup was without the injured Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Bobby Ryan and Robby Fabbri.
The Lightning missed a grade-A chance late in the second period when Ondrej Palat got the puck as he closed in on Detroit’s net. Thomas Greiss had slid to the right side of his net, leaving it wide open — but Palat’s shot sank into the side of the netting.
Brayden Point had a similar chance in the third period, again coming up just wide as Greiss had slid to the top of his crease, leaving the net open.
Ryan McDonagh seemed to score from the point in the third period, but the Wings successfully challenged goalie interference.
Shots were 28-11 when the Wings faced 1:46 down two skaters. Marc Staal, Danny DeKeyser and Luke Glendening did a masterful job getting in lanes and Greiss contributed two big saves.
The teams play again Sunday.
Joe Veleno, a first-round pick from 2018, played in his third NHL game, centering a line between Gagner and Evgeny Svechnikov. Veleno, who spent much of last season’s pandemic layoff in the weight room, has looked noticeably stronger. Early in the second he won a draw against Brayden Point that led to a solid scoring chance for Gagner, whose shot hit the far goal post. Veleno is playing with confidence, having benefitted from playing for Malmo in the Swedish Hockey League.
Young D stay in
Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek, both 23, spent another game paired up, while veteran Troy Stecher was a healthy scratch. While Hronek is well established, Cholowski is still trying to impress upon the Wings that he should be a regular. The two are from the 2016 draft (the Wings selected Hronek in the second round with the extra pick they got in flipping Pavel Datsyuk’s contract to the Arizona Coyotes). Cholowski is an NHL-caliber skater, but the Wings have emphasized making decisions with the puck.
Gustav Lindstrom, a 22-year-old from the 2017 draft, also stayed in the lineup.
Earlier this week, the Wings emerged from a first period with three shots on net; this time it was four — and of them came in the final minute. The Wings looked especially bad during a power play — Greiss had to make a save, while Curtis McElhinney was never threatened.
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