Tonight the Red Wings took on the Ottawa Senators for the first time since the end of 2020 despite being in the same division, with a rematch scheduled for Sunday following tonight’s tilt. Ottawa was rocked this week by the news that owner Eugene Melnyk passed away. Melnyk was a polarizing figure in the NHL, but he was certainly passionate. For all his public standoffs, it’s widely known he was heavily involved in charity work. While public opinion was gradually turning against him the past few years, the hockey world will mourn his loss.
Detroit entered the night looking to start the final month of the season on the right foot and earn a win for the first time in five tries dating back to a win against Philadelphia on March 22. Nedeljkovic once again drew the start trying to get his game back on track. But his shaky numbers, especially more so lately, have largely been a result of the porous defense in front of him. Detroit’s lineup was unchanged from the previous contest, looking to try and build some chemistry through consistency.
Ottawa had played to a pedestrian 3-6-1 over their last 10 games prior to tonight. They currently sit in 29th in the league hovering near the top lottery positions as the season reaches its final leg. In goal for the Senators, 21 year old Mads Sogaard got the first NHL action of his young NHL career. For Detroit that means they either had a young netminder to capitalize on or catapult him to a debut shutout, based on the way things typically go. The Senators roster is fairly thin but they have some good pieces in players like Tkachuk and Norris that are playing well. But they were without standout defender Thomas Chabot who has been out since mid-March with a hand injury.
Hirose narrowly missed getting blown up by Tkachuk at the offensive blue line early the opening period. After allowing Ottawa to apply the early pressure on the road through the first couple of shifts, Detroit seemed to wake up after the first few minutes.
Still early with 16:26 to play, Formenton of the Senators took a late roughing penalty, in what may have been a skirmish with Erne after a whistle. On the powerplay, Larkin had a good argument for an additional penalty against Ottawa when his stick was broken in half in front of the net but to no sympathy from the ref. Moments later, Ottawa rushed the puck up the ice and on a very unthreatening entry, Joseph found Watson with a pass in the high slot. He used Sundqvist as a screen and beat Nedeljkovic with a shot to the glove side, 1-0 Senators.
A shorthanded goal against represented yet another poor start for the Wings. But like salt in a wound, a minute later the Senators banged away at a puck in front of Nedejkovic. After Formenton knocked Seider over with a cross check he laid claim to a puck in the crease and put it into an open cage as Nedeljkovic had slid past the right side of the net. Blashill elected to challenge the play for goaltender interference as when Formenton cross checked Seider he knocked him into the goaltender which in turn is what put him out of position. The refs elected to turn the play over for no goal, perhaps in part because the missed call was right in front of them and this was a chance to correct it.
Look, not that Detroit has played great or that it’s the world’s most vicious cross-check, but how does this official watch Formenton cross-check Seider into Nedeljkovic and call this a goal?
It has since been overturned lol pic.twitter.com/cNxNCMeCyP
— Ryan Hana (@RyanHanaWWP) April 1, 2022
Sundqvist narrowly missed a chance when he smacked at a rebound in front of the Ottawa goal but sent the puck just wide. A short while later, Stutzle was caught with a high stick as the Sens entered the Detroit zone. But it was a linesman blowing the play dead for offside and no penalty was called, either because it went undetected or it was not a Detroit stick that caught him.
Rasmussen used his size to win a puck battle behind the Ottawa net and then quickly powered to the front of the goal with a wraparound attempt and tried to tuck it to the far side but narrowly lost control and sent it wide instead. Nedeljkvoic scrambled to make a save on Joseph as he quickly slid to his far post, almost taking the puck into the net with himself but managed to keep it out.
Through the middle of the period Ottawa upped the pressure on Detroit cycling around the Detroit zone for a couple of separate shifts. With 5:00 to play the Senators held a 10-4 shot advantage. Sundqvist had another chance in front when he redirected a puck that just caught the toe of Sogaard and stayed out.
Ottawa was certainly the more engaged between the two teams in the opening period, controlling the puck for longer periods, outshooting Detroit and also being the more physical of the two teams. They closed the period with a 13-6 shot advantage. Detroit needed to use the break to find another gear.
Zadina had a decent period with a couple notable zone entries and carries through the neutral zone but no major threats. Sundqvist also seemed to be able to win more battles than he lost and find pucks in the tough area in front of the net, but nothing to show for it. Overall Detroit seemed to have received the message that Blashill isn’t interested in giving up a touchdown anymore, even if it means smothering their own offense.
Erne had a chance early in the period when he walked an Ottawa defender with a nice toe drag through the left circle, but he fell to his knees as he completed the move and had to try and shovel a backhander through the goaltender, but couldn’t find an opening. Ottawa had a chance of their own to match when Formenton collected a rebound in front of Nedeljkovic and attempted to wrap the puck around the goalie’s pad but it hit the post and bounced out the other side of the net. After the following faceoff Detroit took off up ice on a partial 2 on 1 featuring Raymond and Walman. Raymond slid a puck over to Walman as they entered the offensive zone, and Walman wasted no time winding up and unloading a slap shot from the top of the circle. The puck trickled through the goaltender and sat on a platter in the crease. Raymond won the race to the loose puck and tapped it in, 1-1.
The goal marked the 21st of Raymond’s rookie campaign as he continues to perform well. Most fans were anticipating the rookie wall to hit Raymond and Seider given the shorter European seasons they’re used to but they haven’t showed any signs of fatigue yet.
Nedeljkovic did a good job on a few sequences finding the puck through traffic and adjusting his positioning quickly on rebound and cross ice pass chances. He had to move around his net quite bit but was finding himself in the right position most of the time.
Following the Raymond goal, Detroit was again on their heels quite a bit, and were trailing in shots 20-11 at the 11:00 mark. Things suddenly get feisty with 8:43 to play when Ottawa took a penalty along the boards when Staal was hit from behind by Stutzle. Rasmussen quickly knocked over the offender and then was promptly jumped on by Hamonic and a small melee ensued. The end result was two penalties for Ottawa and one for Detroit and a powerplay for Detroit.
On this man advantage, Detroit had trouble getting set up for most of the 2:00 and the only chance was a Bertuzzi shot from the slot that went high, a missed opportunity for the Wings. In turn, a few minutes later Detroit went to the box on a tripping penalty in the neutral zone, with Rasmussen as the culprit. Ottawa’s powerplay looked better than Detroit’s but was kept mostly to the perimeter of the zone throughout. Detroit killed the penalty as the game returned to even strength with 3:23 to play. As Rasmussen left the box Detroit was sprung for a 3 on 1. But it turned into a wasted opportunity as Rasmussen whiffed on his shot attempt after receiving a pass in the slot to Sogaard’s right.
Raymond then had a chance at a loose puck in front of the Ottawa goal but couldn’t swat it past the goaltender. At the other end Seider made a nifty move to escape Tkachuk, who didn’t like it and then took a run at the young defenseman well after the puck was gone. Second later the puck came back the other way in the neutral zone and Seider tried to return the favour to Tkachuk, but nothing further developed.
Detroit earned another powerplay when Erne was tripped at the offensive blue line. On the delayed penalty Sundqvist had another chance as he again seemed to find a loose puck in the net front area, something he had already done a couple of times previously in this game. This time with the powerplay, Detroit looked much more dangerous. After an extended setup, Seider let a one timer blast go that caught the cross bar and stayed out. But in the ensuing chaos, Joseph took another Ottawa penalty when he hooked Larkin as he stepped into a shot from the left circle, but it was a pretty weak call especially to put the Sens down 5 on 3.
The result was a 5 on 3 powerplay with 0:07 to play in the period. Vrana had a good look off the draw but the shot was stopped, and the Wings took the two man advantage to the 3rd period.
The Wings closed the shot gap, with Ottawa holding only a 22-19 lead going into the break. One thing to be wary of in the 3rd period though is that the Wings were likely to be under careful watch from the referee’s in the 3rd period given the penalty difference through two periods.
Seider’s physicality and subtle body moves to keep puck control for his team are well beyond his years, and was highlighted in a package during the period.
With the carryover chance, Detroit looked out of sorts failing to set up a good shot and eventually Raymond took a tripping penalty when he lost control of the puck at the blue line and got caught in a tough spot when he fell. But similar to the Joseph call the other way, this one was fairly weak, but call it even.
On the eventual Ottawa powerplay, they worked the puck around the top of the zone before setting Norris up for a one timer just outside the right dot. The one time shot was low to the far side and beat Nedeljkovic who was coming across, 2-1 Senators.
It didn’t take long for the lopsided penalties to turn the other way and Detroit paid the price for not cashing in when they had their chances. Ottawa continued to pressure after the goal, just missing on a 2 on 1 chance. Then moments later, after a dump in skipped past Nedeljkovic behind the goal, Ottawa gained possession. Ennis slid the puck through the front of the crease and public enemy #1 Joseph found it between Lindstrom’s legs and knocked it in before Nedeljkovic could get across the net, 3-1 Senators.
Another 3rd period meltdown was well under way for Detroit just over 3:00 into the final period. Blashill called a timeout to try and regroup the team. But it didn’t appear the message had much affect. Detroit continued to be on the defensive rather than turn the tide over the next few minutes. In need of two goals now, Detroit had only managed two shots through the first 10:00 of the 3rd period.
Veleno showed the speed he’s known for when he burst through the neutral zone and tried to step through three Ottawa players and was tripped. Detroit went to the powerplay once again, desperately needing a goal to keep this game within reach. On the powerplay, Raymond tried a nice spinning move at the side of the net to try and create an opening to the far side but the goaltender snagged the shot. But that ended up being only one of two shots on the powerplay. The other was a Rasmussen partial break when Nedeljkovic hit him with a long pass to the far blue line. Ottawa returned to even strength, up two, with 7:30 to play.
With 6:41 to play, Ottawa had a 2 on 1 rush chance with Joseph carrying. He looked for the pass the whole way before letting a shot go that Nedeljkovic caught a piece of but not enough to keep it out, marking Joseph’s second of the night, 4-1 Senators.
Detroit elected to pull the goalie with over 6:00 to play still. While aggressive it turned out to be a wise move as almost immediately Detroit was able to get one back. Hronek received the puck at the left dot and wound up for a shot but instead hit Raymond with a slap pass with the rookie forward standing in front of the net that he redirected into the open net, 4-2.
Detroit elected to pull again with 4:40 to play on an offensive zone play. Ottawa narrowly missed an immediate attempt to seal this one. But on the next faceoff, Detroit created a goal mouth scramble and came close to suddenly bringing this game within one again. Larkin came very close to picking a corner on a shot from the hash marks, but it was deflected away. But inevitably, Joseph completed the hat trick on a full ice shot at the empty net, 5-2 Senators. Sometimes there’s no justice, but maybe Sunday when these clubs meet again.
Yet another sour 3rd period effort by this team. An uninspiring effort against a team they should look better than. They were slow to start every period in this game and the 3rd finally bit them giving up three in a row to fall well behind.
There were only a few bright spots in this one, the usuals including Raymond and Seider. Sundqvist was subtly good with a couple of chances. There wasn’t many noteworthy positive plays from anyone else. Even Nedeljkovic who fans feel for at times, probably has to stop one or two more than he did. None of the goals were weak, but he needs to make a couple of those saves to keep this game within reach.
Detroit will try to regroup when they play Ottawa on Sunday, they’ll need a much better effort to get an improved result.