Following three straight losses this week, giving up 5 goals in each contest, Detroit faces off with the floundering 2-13-2 Arizona Coyotes tonight. This had the makings of being exactly what the doctor ordered for this group to get right. This game marked the last in a 4 game road trip for Detroit.
Dylan Larkin has been the one driving the bus lately with 6 points in his last 5 games. His linemates Bertuzzi and Raymond also continue to put up points. All three of them have averaged a point per game to as the season nears the quarter-mark.
The Coyotes are firmly in rebuild mode and have taken a beating to start the season. Gostisbehere, Crouse, Kessel, and Keller have 13, 9, 8, and 7 points respectively for the season to lead the team. No other player has more than 5 points. Obviously the threat to keep an eye on for Arizona was Gostisbehere on the blue line.
Scott Wedgewood got the nod in net for Arizona, and he had posted a decent stat line so far in parts of 8 games this season with a 2.64 GAA and .915 SV% behind an awful group. For Detroit Nedeljkovic drew the start after coming in for relief for Greiss on Thursday against Vegas.
Arizona opened with the early pressure through the first few minutes, grabbing the first few shots. Detroit then took the first penalty of the night when Gagner got called for tripping through the neutral zone on an easy call, just a little sloppy with the stick reaching in.
On the powerplay, Arizona failed to create any chances and Detroit killed off the penalty including a couple of stops from Nedeljkovic. A good start for the Red Wings penalty kill that has been under fire of late.
The first big chance went to Arizona when Bertuzzi accidentally sent the puck in front of his own net where it landed right on a Coyote stick and Nedeljkovic had to come up with a big time point blank save. Following the chance, the puck was chipped out towards Raymond in the neutral zone where three Coyotes converged on him and tried to get to the puck first. Raymond was able to chip by all of them loosely into the Arizona zone where the only player in range was Larkin. Larkin skated in alone and pulled Wedgewood from left to right across his net and beat him with a shot to the far side, 1-0 Wings.
Despite the slow start, the Wings were able to jump out to the early lead on what was their first shot of the game. Through the halfway mark of the opening period the pace was rather slow and neither team created many chances. But Arizona certainly had more possession of the puck early on.
Larkin came close to another goal when he used his speed down the left wing to find a lane cutting to the goal, but was unable to get the puck across the net to create a mirror image goal to his first, this time going forehand to backhand.
With the Red Wings having a slow start, Larkin is doing his best to take over the game, using his speed to create chances. He was this close to getting his second of the game. #LGRW pic.twitter.com/yQIkWWHbZj
— everett (@borntodanhard) November 21, 2021
Nedeljkovic made a good save on a one timer from the corner to his left. He had to quickly pop his shoulder up to get enough of the shot to keep it out. The play was a good test of his agility and reflexes, and he was able to display both.
All in all it was a very slow and uneventful first period. Aside from Larkin’s goal and one other chance Detroit didn’t generate much of anything. Arizona tested Nedeljkovic a couple of times but the netminder was sturdy when needed. Both teams finished with eight shots each for the period.
Detroit’s top line was hemmed in on an early shift where they struggled to get the puck from the Coyotes and when they did, couldn’t break out effectively. Detroit’s first look of the period came when Fabbri hit Veleno with a backhand pass across the tops of the circles and Veleno sent the shot just wide of the goal. Shortly after, Erne picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, he drove down the right side before pulling up and dropping a pass to Rasmussen who put a shot high to the blocker side that Wedgewood just got a piece of to keep it out.
Detroit’s second line had a strong shift where they spent nearly the entire shift in the Arizona end and created a couple of scoring chances and several shots. The defensive pairing on to assist with the offensive zone cycling was Hronek and Leddy.
One player for Arizona who was noticeably good to this point was Jakob Chychrun, demonstrating his smooth puck control with a few plays including along the offensive blue line. Not that Red Wings fans want reminders of what could have been, but he’s an impressive young defender.
Nedeljkovic was tested when Keller rushed into the zone and took a shot high to the glove side, with Nedeljkovic once again able to direct a shot away with his shoulder. He did a good job on several occasions in this game making saves with a quick pop of the shoulder.
With 7:51 remaining Bertuzzi created a turnover at the Coyotes blue line and forced Jay Beagle to take a hooking penalty, giving Detroit their first powerplay of the night. On the powerplay, the first unit cycled the puck around well and got the puck to the net front once. The second unit struggled to gain zone entry and get set up. The penalty expired without the Wings getting any top level looks.
On a net front scramble at the Arizona goal, Detroit banged away but as Arizona cleared the puck the whistle blew, with the referee indicating a penalty. Arizona’s Lyubushkin received 2:00 for slashing. On the replay it showed Lyubushkin took a coincidental elbow from Rasmussen that sent him to the dressing room rather than the penalty box. With another powerplay chance, the first unit again moved the puck around well, this time with Seider taking a few point shot attempts. Bertuzzi and Fabbri had a nice back and forth play with Fabbri taking a good shot attempt from the right dot. The puck found it’s way back to Fabbri after another cycle and on a one timer he caught Wedgewood with a hard shot under the mask. The goaltender immediately dropped and Bertuzzi standing in front of him immediately waved for attention.
Wedgewood stayed in the game after being tended to by the trainer. Detroit wasn’t able to create any additional chances but all in all a better powerplay look than the previous one.
Rasmussen coming on during a line change picked up a puck behind the Arizona goal and cycled up the boards. With a great pass he found a driving Namestnikov through the slot who was coming off the bench as well. Namestnikov’s quick shot hit the post and stayed out.
In the final minute Nedeljkovic showed off his puck moving abilities when he dove out to retrieve a dumped puck and quickly fired a long stretch pass to Fabbri. The play didn’t result in anything special but it really highlighted how strong the goaltender is at handling the puck.
Detroit took over a bit in this period, as their pace improved, helped by a pair of powerplays. The shots were 16-6 for Detroit creating an overall 24-14 shot advantage. They created a handful of good chances as well.
Through the first 4:00 of the final period the teams exchanged a few shots from distance, easy saves for each goaltender. After an offensive zone faceoff by Detroit’s top line they managed to get a couple of shots from in tight. Wedgewood ended up flat on his back at one point but the puck stayed out.
A few shifts later it was Arizona’s turn for sustained pressure when they hemmed in the Wings second line, as well as the Hronek and Leddy pairing. Fortunately Detroit was able to eventually clear the zone to relieve the pressure and keep the one goal lead.
Detroit was doing a good job of limiting any pressure for the most part from Arizona early in the 3rd period. They didn’t collapse into a defensive shell that they’ve been guilty of at times this season when they have a lead.
But as the period crossed the halfway mark Arizona picked up the tempo and started applying some consistent pressure including a couple of blasts from Chychrun that Nedeljkovic was able to handle. Arizona was quickly closing the shot gap Detroit had built up in the 2nd period.
Rasmussen made a tough play when he iced the puck after being a step or two short of the red line. Sometimes linesman are willing to give the player the benefit of the doubt on these but this time they didn’t. On the ensuing faceoff, Sam Gagner lost the draw fairly cleanly, and the puck went back to Dineen at the point who floated a wrister through traffic that was tipped by Dzingel on the way to the net and went in, 1-1.
It’s a tough break for Rasmussen as he’ll wear the goat horns for that one after what had been a decent showing for him to this point. After doing a good job still trying to control play early in the 3rd period, the Wings fell victim to allowing Arizona to come at them over and over while trying to melt time away with a 1-0 lead.
Oesterle laid a big time hit on Roussel in the Detroit corner as the two raced back for a puck. Roussel went into the corner hard and went head over heels. A lot of this impact was created by himself with his awkward way he went into the corner, but it looked like it hurt.
Blashill showed something that’s been a trend this year, putting Rasmussen on the ice with less than 2:00 to play. He’s showed on a few occasions this season that he’ll give young players another chance immediately after a mistake. These second chances for youngsters isn’t something that was seen often in the past.
With less than 0:15 to play Detroit caught a break when several Coyotes were caught down low in the Detroit zone trying to get a late game winner. The Wings skated away on a full ice 3 on 2. A drop pass by Fabbri to a trailing Suter was launched at the net as traffic converged there. The whistle blew just as a mess of sticks came down behind Wedgewood as the puck had squeaked through. Zadina was clearly irate at the early whistle, but it looked likely that Arizona was going to be on the puck first anyway. Instead Detroit would have to take their chances in overtime in this one.
Detroit opened with Larkin alongside Raymond and Leddy against Beagle, Keller, and Chychrun. But after winning the draw Beagle quickly subbed for Kessel. Arizona gained the Wings zone, Kessel dropped it to Chychrun who fired a shot on net. The puck found it’s way behind Nedeljkovic and during a scramble with the goaltender laid flat, Arizona buried the game winner off the stick of Keller.
However Larkin was adamant that Kessel had interfered with Nedeljkovic on the play. But in overtime any reviews come from the league office. In this case they eventually did call down for review. Kessel did get his stick into Nedeljkovic, but it’s hard to say how much was Kessel pushing and how much was Nedeljkovic spinning to try and dive back into position as he was nowhere near where the shot was coming from. But there has been war more minor infractions resulting in an overturned goal. But they eventually ruled it was indeed a good goal, 2-1 Coyotes is your final. Curious if this would’ve been overturned it had it been in regulation rather than in overtime.
Well it was a dud of an end to a game that lacked many fireworks to start with. On one hand it could be argued it was a better defensive effort for Detroit than it has been of late. But this was also against a league worst Arizona team. They still lost….to a league worst Arizona team. Arizona cancelled them out in the first period, may have even arguably been better, and were definitely the better team in the final 15:00. Detroit did control the play for long stretches but they should have dominated this Arizona team and they didn’t. While Wedgewood was good and Detroit did hit at least two posts tonight, they did not generate enough offensively.
Larkin had a strong showing as he often does, showing good play at both ends of the rink. Fabbri also seemed to have a good night being the focal point of quite a bit of Detroit’s limited offense. Rasmussen showed some flashes of what the Wings need him to do consistently. Nedeljkovic was pretty strong, with maybe the exception of the OT goal where he let the initial long distance shot get away from him.
But in the end it’s hard to leave this game with anything better than a sour taste. The now 3-12-2 Yotes are abysmal and Detroit let them hang around all night. It’s onto the next one in this case, with Detroit playing host to St. Louis on Wednesday after a couple of days off. Detroit has a reduced schedule for the next week with 3 days between each game after what’s been a whirlwind schedule. It’ll be up to them to correct the current 4 game skid.