Tonight the Red Wings took on an old rival in the Chicago Blackhawks. Both teams were coming off long layoffs with Detroit not having played since Monday but Chicago had gone almost a full week, not playing since Saturday.
Detroit was of course without Bertuzzi and Vrana tonight giving an opportunity for Kubalik and Zadina to seize opportunities in the top six. One other shakeup this week was Perron and Raymond swapping spots with Perron taking a spot on Larkin’s wing.
The Blackhawks were 1-2-0 to open what should be a bottoming out season for them in hopes of obtaining one of the coveted pieces at the top of next year’s draft. But seeing this franchise hit rock bottom is chicken soup for the soul for Red Wings fans, and most fan bases across the league. But their last game was a win against San Jose, preceded by a tight 1-0 loss to Vegas. Patrick Kane remains dangerous even if the team around him is fading. However he only had one assist through his first three games prior to tonight.
Starting in goal tonight for Detroit was Alex Nedeljkovic as he and Husso continued rotating starts, with Nedeljkovic looking great in his first start of the season last week. While Chicago’s lineup isn’t what it used to be, it’s important for Nedeljkovic to keep up with Husso to maintain his number of starts. Healthy competition for the two. One time Red Wing netminder Petr Mrazek got the start for Chicago. He’s had a rough go to start the season holding a 3.50 GAA and .885 SV% prior to tonight’s start.
Raymond had a good chance early when Zadina sent a puck behind the net to Copp who quickly slid it out to Raymond at the top of the crease. But Mrazek was able to get a pad on the quick shot by Raymond. But it was Chicago with the early pressure, buzzing around the Wings end for the first 5:00 of the game. The Detroit defense was largely able to keep them to the perimeter with only errant passes and trickling pucks finding their way through the slot. Overall it was a sluggish start for the Wings through the first segment.
Kubalik almost caught a lucky break when Perron lobbed a shot on net that Mrazek failed to control. The rebound bounced just away from Kubalik who would’ve had Mrazek at his mercy. Just before the halfway point in the opening period, Detroit lined up for an offensive zone draw to Mrazek’s right. Veleno snapped the draw back to Lindstrom, who slid it across to Hagg at the top of the zone. He teed up a shot that found it’s way to Mrazek but then bounced in off Suter’s leg who was crashing the net. A very good bounce, but off a well-executed faceoff play, 1-0 Red Wings.
Veleno was not credited with an assist but his clean win on the draw was instrumental to the goal. Following the goal Detroit seemed to have a spark, with the third line immediately drawing a penalty after applying some offensive pressure. Chicago’s Tinordi took an interference penalty to give Detroit the first powerplay of the game. Detroit moved the puck well to start the powerplay, with Perron just missing the net with a one timer shot. Larkin received a pass in the high slot from Kubalik on the half wall, stick handled it momentarily before using a Sundqvist screen on a shot that found the back of the net, 2-0 Red Wings.
The powerplay struck early, using the modified personnel on the top unit. But the momentum was short lived as Hagg took a delay of game penalty when he put the puck over the glass trying to clear it. Detroit’s penalty kill went to work defying the Hawks attempts. As Rasmussen went to send the puck down to the Chicago end, Domi got a hooking penalty on Rasmussen, a dumb penalty in the neutral zone. Domi, clearly frustrated with more than just that penalty, tried to draw Rasmussen into a fight afterwards but the linesmen got in between them. Domi is clearly happy to be playing in Chicago, chip off the old square block. The end result was a couple of offsetting penalties in addition to the Domi hooking penalty.
During the ensuing 4 on 4 play Larkin took an awkward fall when he was cross-checked in the back by Murphy but as he fell forward his neck got wrenched as he fell into another Hawks player. He skated very gingerly to the bench and after some grimacing left to the room. A potentially ugly development for a team already missing Bertuzzi and Vrana.
Larkin went to the Red Wings dressing room in a lot of pain after being injured on this play. Seemed to be his right side – note that he had core muscle surgery this offseason. #LGRW pic.twitter.com/tKJ2j8wkZO
— Ryan Hana (@RyanHanaWWP) October 22, 2022
It was Detroit with the next penalty after the original three had expired. Sundqvist took a 2:00 high-sticking penalty. Chicago’s powerplay was a bit more threatening this time, but still didn’t generate any good scoring chances. As Sundqvist exited the box he laid a big check on Caleb Jones behind the Chicago net. Jones immediately retaliated with a forceful two-handed slash to the back of Sundqvist’s leg, earning a penalty for this troubles.
With Larkin injured, Copp took Larkin’s place as the bumper on the top powerplay unit. But this time the Wing’s powerplay looked disjointed and may not have had a single shot on the opportunity; that brought the period to a close.
Detroit came to life in the second half of the period after looking absent for the first 10:00. Sundqvist had an eventful period, taking a penalty, drawing a penalty, and providing a key screen on the Larkin powerplay goal.
Wings fans could breathe a big sigh of relief when Larkin returned to start the second period. Disaster appeared to be averted.
There was an odd play early in the period when Chicago’s Dickinson crumpled to the ice when attempting to skate out of the Hawks zone. It wasn’t clear what put him down but the Chicago players seemed to all think it was due to an infraction by Kubalik, maybe a missed high stick? Regardless it went unpenalized and led to a chance for Kubalik and Larkin but they couldn’t get a shot to the net.
Rasmussen continued to find himself in the middle of the nastiness, jawing back and forth with Toews. It’s an edge to his game that Rasmussen has developed, somewhat out of necessity as he continues to establish the role he will play in his career.
Raymond and Zadina each had subsequent outstanding chances. First Zadina received a pass from behind the net just below the hash marks. He handled the puck momentarily but couldn’t beat Mrazek with a shot low to the far side. The rebound went to Raymond, but bounced a few times in his legs, and by the time he could handle it Mrazek had gotten back in position and a defender had gotten to him.
Naturally moments later, former Red Wing Athanasiou got a partial breakaway from the blue line in when he used his speed to split the Red Wings defensemen and drew a hook that resulted in a penalty shot. On the attempt, Athanasiou, wound back and forth rather than zipping in. As he cut back to his forehand between the hashmarks, he snapped a shot five hole on Nedeljkovic, freezing the netminder in position, 2-1.
Not that a penalty shot goal can be blamed on Nedeljkovic but it’s not a good look when a goaltender doesn’t react on a shot. Prior to the goal the Hawks only had 4 shots in the game so Nedeljkovic had not really been tested in the game to this point.
Just past the 10:00 mark of the period, Larkin applied pressure on the half wall. The Hawks defender attempted a pass across the zone but it was picked up by Maatta at the blue line. He sailed a shot towards the net, Kubalik was cutting across the front of the net and knocked the puck down, bouncing it over Mrazek’s pad and into the net, 3-1 Red Wings.
A bit of puck luck to be sure, but an earned bounce with the pressure Detroit was applying to the Hawks. After the goal the frustration boiled over a bit. After a shot on Nedeljkovic, Chiarot took Lafferty a little harder into the boards than the Hawks player liked. The two got into a bit of a scuffle as a scrum ensued around them. Chiarot manhandled Lafferty a little, taking him down to the ice. Unfortunately for Detroit they took the extra minor as Perron was given a penalty for something in the scrum.
On the penalty kill, Larkin and Copp had a great look shorthanded as Larkin found Copp in the slot and Copp sent a shot just wide of the goal. It was a great penalty kill for Detroit as the Hawks never so much as held the offensive zone for any extended time.
Nedeljkovic made a solid save on Kane from point blank when the Hawks forward received a pass right in front of the goaltender and tried to make a spinning shot back to the far side, and swallowed up the rebound. On the ensuing faceoff, Chicago won it back to the point and a shot was sent in forcing Nedeljkovic to make a kick save. The rebound went to Athanasiou who promptly fired it off the post and out with Nedeljkovic diving across to try and save the shot. A near miss for the Hawks to try and bring this game back to a one goal difference.
The Copp, Raymond, Zadina line followed with a great shift. They spent the entire shift in Chicago’s end with the only critique being Zadina and Raymond looked to be making one too many passes instead of shooting.
Detroit continued to apply pressure through the end of the period, reaching a total of 18 shots by the end of the frame, to Chicago’s 13. Detroit started to really take control of this game in this period with Chicago only having one or two good chances aside from the penalty shot.
For the Blackhawks, Alex Stalock came out to start the 3rd period instead of Mrazek. It wasn’t clear if Mrazek perhaps got hurt somewhere late in the 2nd period.
Adam Erne earned a scoring chance as he fought off a Hawks defender on a rush attempt. He had good reason to believe he drew a penalty on the play as he was hauled down going to the net, but no call was made and the puck slid to the corner.
Just after the 3:00 mark of the period, Chicago got some pressure in the Detroit end. Lafferty outbattled Larkin behind the Wings goal, with Lafferty then getting the puck to the point. With a shot through traffic, Nedeljkovic couldn’t control the rebound. On the scramble for the puck the Wings got outnumbered in front of their goal, and Kurashev ended up with the puck and was able to beat an outstretched Nedeljkovic, 3-2.
The Wings just lost positioning a bit on that goal and paid the price. But on the shift immediately after the goal, the second line quickly tilted the ice towards Chicago’s end once again. Zadina and Raymond each had good looks at the net on shots, including a 3 on 1 rush at one point. Hronek finished the series off when he stepped into a shot at the top of the circle. Stalock may have got a piece of it as he spun across the crease. Detroit continued to apply pressure in the shifts that followed, looking like a team very much aware this was again a one goal game with too much time left to sit on it.
Zadina was gifted a breakaway on a missed pass by the Hawks. He tried to go backhand fivehole on Stalock but couldn’t tuck it in. Raymond picked up the rebound and put it across to Copp, but Stalock dove out at him to knock the puck away.
Shortly after, McCabe took a high sticking penalty on Raymond putting the Red Wings on the powerplay with 10:55 remaining. The Hawks had a chance on the penalty kill when Hronek’s stick got launched out of his hands and the Hawks had an odd man rush the other way. Johnson attempted to cut around the stickless Hronek but Nedeljkovic was able to make the save. But on the faceoff immediately after the Hawks made them pay when they won the draw and the point shot tipped off Dickinson’s stick in similar fashion to the Kubalik goal earlier, 3-3.
The Wings had been playing so well but a poorly executed powerplay resulted in a tie game despite their even strength efforts. Detroit was gifted a chance to take back control of the game with 6:13 to play when Stalock launched a puck over the glass resulting in a Blackhawks penalty. On the powerplay, Lafferty got Hronek turning the wrong way and almost got in alone on Nedeljkovic. A near disaster for the Wings to give up back to back shorthanded goals. After scoring on the first powerplay of the game, Detroit’s work on the powerplay was completely out of sorts.
At this point the shots had evened up at 26-26. Detroit failing to cash in on chances earlier in the period was coming back to haunt them. Both teams managed to escape the final few minutes unscathed to earn a point each. Detroit likely feeling like they gave one away, while Chicago probably felt happy to get at least one.
Detroit opened with Larkin, Raymond, and Seider for overtime. Seider had an attempt blocked from the high slot and later Stalock made a save on Kubalik on another shot from up high. Detroit maintained most of the possession early in the overtime period. Raymond took a drop pass from Rasmussen at his own blue line and he circled to start a rush. Unfortunately for Raymond he bobble the puck turning it over to Domi. Domi raced in, keeping Seider at bay who had to play the pass to the trailing Kane. Domi elected to shoot and he beat Nedeljkovic to the far side with a low shot over the pad, 4-3 Hawks final.
Despite some good effort from Detroit at times in this game, this felt like a deserved outcome for shooting themselves in the foot too many times. This loss fell on Detroit’s shoulders more than anything that the Blackhawks did. The overtime turnover captured it perfectly. But the shorthanded goal against to tie the game was another blunder. The powerplay did more harm than good after looking promising early with the early goal.
One silver lining was that Larkin looked more than fine after the injury in the first. A scare this team didn’t need but at least avoided the worst of it.
Seider and Raymond are going to want that game back, especially failing to capitalize when they did have chances. They’ll have to wait another game to get out of their slump to start the season.
Nedeljkovic was fine, not awful, not great. None of the goals were squeakers, but it’s difficult to recall him making any big time saves, which you’re hoping for at least a couple of each game.
The big fellas line was not very noticeable for a change tonight, hopefully they can get back to form next game.
To end on a positive note, what Chiarot and Perron have brought to this team has been very important. Other teams seem to hate them and they are constantly doing the little things to drive guys nuts, and it may result in a penalty here and there but it’s an element this team has been missing for a long time and it’s a welcome change.
It’s back home to Detroit after this one to take on Anaheim on Sunday, LGRW!