Detroit — The Red Wings were right there at the end Friday against a Stanley Cup contender, and saw the Washington Capitals make the big plays to win the game.
More specifically, Alex Ovechkin with two late goals. Regardless, it was a reminder of how it’s done and how a good team closes out games.
The Wings have been better in such situations this season. They’ve beaten quality teams such as the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and Washington, making key plays late and taking a good team’s best punch.
As long as the Wings continue to be in those kind of positions, coach Jeff Blashill will be satisfied.
“You’re talking about razor thin margins when you’re in these tight games, and ultimately it’s the greatest power-play scorer of all time that scores a power-play goal (Friday, to give Washington the late lead),” Blashill said. “I’ll take that game over and over again. We had the chances about exactly equal. They have one of the better records in the league and it’s a team that’s considered to be a contender for the Stanley Cup.
“We just have to keep playing good hockey and the more you’re in those spots, the more position you’re in to win. It’s a large part of the process but you want to be in those spots as much as possible.”
Forward Pius Suter said t took an elite shot from Ovechkin to put the Wings away.
“We’ve shown we can win those games,” Suter said. “They get a power play and it was a great shot, last second of the penalty kill, and otherwise we had a good game. It can happen the same way with us, we can score and it’s a tie game.
“It’s close, small things that make a difference.”
The Wings get another chance to move on from the stinging loss against a similarly tough-minded Boston team Sunday.
The Bruins are a division rival and expected playoff contender. Boston had games postponed due to COVID-19, and like the Wings, are coming off a long layoff.
“It’s a big game, everyone knows it,” Suter said. “We’re not halfway through (the season) but division game, and being that close in the standings together, it’ll be a huge two points to get.”
Tough area scorer
Suter has shown a knack for scoring goals around the net, in the hard-nosed areas, much like he was expected to do when the Wings signed him as an unrestricted free agent last summer.
“I started in junior with it and it’s been working, so I’ve kept doing it,” Suter said. “It’s harder sometimes, you have to be in the right position, but you get a few like that and it can create space for other guys, maybe making seam passes or a second guy back door.
“It’s part of my game that way and I’ve tried to be real good at it.”
Suter has nine points in the last 12 games, reversing an early season slow start. Much like the way Suter scores those greasy type of goals, it’s been a simple formula sparking the turnaround.
“Back to basics,” Suter said. “Do what I do well.”
Blashill is a big fan of scoring the “dirty” goals.
“It’s vital to any player’s success,” Blashill said. “One of the reasons Sutes has been able to score goals in the NHL is because he goes to the net and is good around the net. Most of his goals are from that area.
“If you want to score consistently in this league, and as hockey team or individual, you better go to the net and find ways to score with tips and rebounds and plays around the cage.”
Filip Zadina hasn’t scored in eight games, and has one goal in the last 13, mired in a slump that hasn’t been always fair.
“I’d like to see him score in the sense that he’s played good hockey and created through work, and created opportunities, so when guys are doing it right, you’d like to see them rewarded,” Blashill said. “You’d like to see it happen before they start losing hope.”
… Defenseman Nick Leddy is off the protocol list, but will miss his second game Sunday.
… Forward Vladislav Namestnikov earned an assist Friday on Suter’s goal, recording his 17th point (nine goals, eight assists) of the season to equal his point total from last season in 21 fewer games.
Bruins at Red Wings
►Faceoff: 1 p.m., Sunday, Little Caesars Arena
►Outlook: The Bruins and Wings have split two games in Boston this season. … The Bruins are on a back-to-back, having hosted Buffalo Saturday in a matinee…After many years, as the line of LW Brad Marchand, C Patrice Bergeron and RW David Pastrnak goes, largely so do the Bruins.