The Detroit Red Wings squared off with the Boston Bruins for the second Saturday in a row and this time it was a whole different story. Detroit clawed, battled, and fought their way back to a statement win, and oh what a statement it was. After being dominated in a 4-1 loss last week at TD Garden, the Red Wings came back to punch the league’s top heavyweight in the mouth with a 5-4 win in an exciting back-and-forth battle between the two Atlantic Division foes that resulted in the Red Wings handing the Bruins their first regulation loss of the season. Let’s recap.
Opening Period Takeaways
The game got off to an interesting start as the Red Wings outshot Boston 14-12 and appeared to have better quality scoring chances, but it was the Bruins who headed into the intermission with a 2-1 lead. The Red Wings held their own with one of the NHL’s best in the opening period as the new power play units generated some high-end chances. James van Riemsdyk broke the scoreless tie early, as Detroit lost another draw in their own end, with Pavel Zacha out dueling J.T. Compher – freeing up David Pastrnak for a blast that goaltender Ville Husso originally stopped. But Husso failed to cover up the puck, leaving van Riemsdyk with a tap in down low. It was a save the 28-year-old netminder needed to make and I can assure you he would tell you the same.
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Detroit switched up the power-play units on Friday morning at practice and it seemed to have a positive impact as both teams were effective in moving the puck. The first unit consisted of David Perron (net front), Dylan Larkin (bumper), Alex DeBrincat, and Lucas Raymond (flanks) with Shayne Gostisbehere running the point. The passing looked crisp with Larkin getting denied on a good opportunity down low on a first period power play. But shortly after, the Bruins capitalized after a bad van Riemsdyk pass took an awkward bounce as it rounded the boards, leading to a turnover in the Red Wings zone. Rookie Matthew Poitras was the beneficiary, skating in all alone after a great pass from Kevin Shattenkirk, and beat Husso with a nifty backhand move. Ben Chiarot was clearly out of position on the play – but that’s what happens when you get bad bounces, and Detroit was quickly down 2-0.
Toward the end of the opening period, Larkin drew an interference penalty on Brandon Carlo, leading to Detroit’s first goal. Off a broken play with the man advantage, Perron found Raymond all alone in front – with a great no-look pass – and Raymond buried it past Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark. It was an impressive play for Perron who has struggled to get going offensively to start the season. Things then turned chippy with Pastrnak attempting a high – but legal hit on Walman, to which Seider took exception to. He then battled with Boston defenseman Parker Wotherspoon, taking a blow to the face, that the referee somehow missed. Seider and Walman got matching minors while van Riemsdyk took a cross-checking penalty and the Bruins were back on the power play. Fortunately, for Detroit, it was an unsuccessful one as the Red Wings killed it off to enter the opening intermission trailing by one.
2nd Period Takeaways
The middle period was the second power play’s unit time to shine and the newly formed squad didn’t disappoint. They struck on the power play at 9:59, to tie the game at two apiece, with Seider feeding Walman for a one-timer that blew by Ullmark’s head. It was a rocket shot from the defenseman and it appeared the momentum was shifting in Detroit’s favor. But after some back-and-forth action, Boston’s Jake DeBrusk caught Olli Maatta flat-footed and found a wide-open Charlie Coyle down low in the crease for a 3-2 lead. While Detroit continued to dictate play in Boston’s zone, the Bruins kept finding a way to maintain the lead, even after being outshot 31-21 through two periods.
3rd Period Let’s Get It On
If at this point someone had shown me a highlight of all of the quality scoring chances between the two teams without showing me the goals, I would honestly tell you the Red Wings were up at least two – but that wasn’t the case. Boston began pounding Detroit early in the third and Husso came up with some very solid saves. The Bruins were toying with the Red Wings at one point until it eventually led to a gassed Detroit unit on a 2-on-2 break with Raymond feeding Larkin who sped past Wotherspoon – on fumes – and beat Ullmark short side. Larkin’s 17th point of the season tied the game at three. But Detroit’s persistence had only just begun. Moments later Perron fanned on a shot from the right slot but somehow retrieved it and beat Ullmark for a 4-3 lead. Then, all in the span of 3:44, the Red Wings added another with Copp finding the twine after Compher banged one off the crossbar for a 5-3 Detroit lead.
The play looked eerily similar to the Raymond winner last Monday on Long Island as Compher this time decided to shoot after drifting backward with the puck. Detroit appeared to have Boston on the ropes, but don’t ever count out a team that employs David Pastrnak. With 5:49 remaining in the game, and Copp off to the box for tripping, he blasted a laser from the top of the left faceoff circle past Husso for his ninth goal of the year and suddenly Boston trailed by just one. Rasmussen was slashed on the play, breaking his stick but the referees, again, missed the call. That familiar feeling of uncertainty started to creep into the minds of Red Wings fans. Could they hold on against last season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner? The answer was yes.
With time winding down, frustration started to set in for Boston as numerous (avoidable) penalties wiped out any chance of a Bruins’ comeback. Pastrnak took a tripping penalty after being stopped in the Red Wings zone with 1:28 remaining and moments later Coyle was called for holding Seider. Then Boston’s bench started chirping, earning another penalty, leading to a 5-on-3 advantage for Detroit. The Red Wings merely had to play keep away for the remainder of the game but the Bruins had other plans, starting with Larkin and Hampus Lindholm getting into it by the benches, with both earning ten-minute misconducts. Moments later, everybody’s favorite, Brad Marchand, took his anger out on Compher by delivering a cross-check to the forward’s back while taking a roughing penalty as well. Detroit got that “oh so sweet revenge” with a 5-4 win as the clock ran out on Boston’s winning streak.
First, the good, and there was a lot. This was obviously the Red Wings’ best game of the young season. Detroit, overall, outshot Boston 40-30. The power-play, which was 0-for-11 in the three previous games, went 2-for-8 against the Bruins, with the Red Wings playing keep away for the last two of them at the end of the game. Switching Moritz Seider and Gostisbehere between the two units seemed to pay dividends as each one scored while also generating some good, high-end chances. Perron’s assist to Raymond, to open the scoring for Detroit, was a beauty and he added a big goal late in the game. It was good to see him on the scoresheet again after some early-season struggles. Maatta made a key defensive play in the first period stopping a 2-on-1 break, diving to get his stick on the puck to break up the pass. He can be a good defender at times but needs to find more consistency in his game.
The night started with a feature on Walman deciding to wear a neck guard after the tragic passing of his friend Adam Johnson last week. He appeared very emotional when speaking and it seemed to impact his play as you could see the passion in his game. Walman is quickly becoming a fan favorite both on and off the ice. Detroit proved last night that they could take a punch, but in the end, they could deliver the knockout blow. Battling down from a 2-0 deficit against one of the league’s best teams is a pivotal learning moment for a new squad of players still trying to gel.
It was another rough night for Rasmussen, as he appeared to be snake-bitten. After hitting the post on a wide-open net vs. the Florida Panthers on Thursday, he had another opportunity early on in the third with an empty net that he just couldn’t get his stick on. The Pastrnak goal left the 6-foot-6 center noticeably frustrated after his stick was slashed out of his hands, with the refs missing a blatant call.
The Bruins’ first goal of the game is one that will haunt Husso. He has to cover that puck. The netminder played a solid third period as Boston was pressing late to get back in the game. Overall he stopped 26 of 30 shots for a .867 save percentage. The team will need more out of him but he played well when it mattered the most.
Now for the ugly. Larkin appeared to be clutching his back at the end of the game as some Boston players were taking liberties with the Red Wings captain as they battled along the boards. That is not a good thing. Chiarot and Jeff Petry looked overmatched and struggled at times to get the puck out of the defensive zone. Petry forced an icing after making an errant pass while starting the rush, then failed to clear the puck on the ensuing faceoff, leading to more chances for the Bruins. They both appear to be liabilities in their own end at times and those mistakes are leading to turnovers that Detroit can’t afford. It is time for Simon Edvinsson to join this lineup.
The Red Wings showed early on that they weren’t going to be pushed around at home. They played a physical game and didn’t back down. It was an impressive performance against one of the best teams in the league. At times it appeared that the game was about to swing the Bruins way, but they persevered with a strong overall performance. Sometimes the best teams don’t win, but on this night Detroit proved to be the better team.