The Detroit Red Wings took on the New York Rangers on the road on Thursday, bringing home an exciting (to say the least) shootout victory. This was their first trip to Madison Square Garden since early 2020 and the first Wings-Rangers matchup of this 2021-22 season thus far.
To start the game off, Troy Stecher ripped one from the blue line early in the 1st, putting the Red Wings off with a lead. It was Detroit’s first goal of the evening and Stecher’s first goal of the year after being out with a wrist injury for most of the season. He returned to action on February 12th against the Flyers, making this his third game back from IR.
The Red Wings started off the 1st period strong and controlled the puck for longer, giving them more shots on goal (12-8). Although the 1st period was strong for Detroit, there were two power plays that they could not capitalized on (which is a reoccurring theme this season).
A rather crucial turnover at the hands of Danny DeKeyser gave the Rangers a 3-1 breakaway with only Filip Hronek and Thomas Greiss between them and the net. Thankfully, there was no goal scored, but it is moments such as this that raise questions about DeKeyser’s game – they’ve been frequent occurrences this season.
Even with defensive errors present, Greiss was shutting down breakaway chances like nobody’s business. With two huge stops on the Rangers’ offense towards the back half of the 1st, Greiss was clearly on the ice with his best skate forward for this contest.
Filip Zadina has been open for better shots on goal since he was bumped up to the first line with Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond. Being next to two big point scorers with great passing sense has given him chances to take more polished shots on goal. While these shots from Zadina and the rest of the Red Wings were looking sharp, they were met by Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin, who has the best SV% in the NHL (.938). Zadina looked dangerous all game and it could be argued that this has been his best game so far even if he didn’t score.
With roughly eight minutes left in the 2nd, Keandre Miller slipped one under the left skate of Greiss on a wrap-around, tying up the game 1-1. Both goals at this point were scored by defensemen until Dylan Larkin made his mark on the game, bringing the Wings to a 2-1 lead. That goal was Larkin’s 26th of the season, pushing him ahead of Connor McDavid in the most goals scored this season (putting him in 7th place just one goal behind fellow former Wolverine Kyle Connor).
Moritz Seider absolutely wrecked Chris Kreider, which clearly shocked the Rangers crowd at Madison Square Garden. Seider is a big guy on the ice and has proved to be a brick wall that just deflects hits like they’re nothing. Kreider didn’t see it coming and Seider did not seem to even look twice to land that reverse hit. Oh, and Seider got another point tonight, win-win day for the rookie.
Coming into the 3rd, shots on goal were 23-26 in favor of the Rangers and the Red Wings carried a 2-1 lead, and nobody was ready to back down. No team likes to give up a game on home ice, especially the Rangers, who have only lost four at home this season. New York came out ready to rumble and took drives straight to net that were all shut down by Detroit’s defense and Greiss’s goaltending.
With eight minutes left in the 3rd, the Red Wings allowed the Rangers to take their first power play if the game which resulted in a rather inevitable goal. Smart passing in the Red Wings zone allowed the Rangers to draw all defensemen away from Mika Zibanejad giving him a wide-open shot to the right side of Greiss.
A tied game (2-2) with just eight minutes remaining in regulation put Detroit under pressure to execute a go-ahead goal to avoid the 3-on-3 overtime. There were not a lot of shots being taken by the Red Wings in the 3rd period (only two in 16 minutes), which is a troublesome statistic for a team that was trying to maintain a lead.
Alas, they failed to get that third goal and would go into overtime, their 16th overtime of the season.
Two goaltenders who are having equally solid nights in overtime makes for some difficult free hockey.
Difficult to the point in which overtime was not enough, and the game was forced into a shootout.
Both teams scored in the first round, Raymond for Detroit and Zibanejad for New York. The shootout would carry on for six rounds until Pius Suter netted the game winning goal, his first ever shootout attempt, bringing the Red Wings a 3-2 victory.
All things said and done, this game was run by the goalies- it was their game and everyone else was just skating in it. Igor Shesterkin with 31 saves (.939 SV%) and Thomas Greiss with a 37 (.949 SV%), both of these goalies put up a tremendous effort for their teams and kept this game interesting. The skaters on both teams played strong as well, putting up 30+ shots each, and maintaining an evenly competitive game for three full periods.
So coming out of this game and looking ahead, what comes next for Detroit? The next five games for the Wings are going to be challenging, the next of which is on February 23rd versus the Colorado Avalanche, who are currently 1st in the league. Followed by Toronto, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Florida- none of these teams are easy opponents for Detroit as they are all in the top six teams in the league. If the Red Wings stay hungry for these wins and play with the tenacity and sharpness that they did versus the Rangers, there is no reason that they should be blown out of the water by any of these teams.
A two-point shootout road win for the Red Wings going into a six-day break should give the team some confidence heading into their home matchup versus Colorado.