The Detroit Red Wings won by the widest goal differential since opening night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was also the second consecutive game in which the team registered 40+ shots.
Detroit was coming off their first shootout of the season, which ended in a victory via a Brad Richards game-winner. They had finished regulation tied each of the past five games and seven of their past eight. This time, the Red Wings would break that trend.
The Arizona Coyotes thought they had a 1-0 lead at the 1:22 mark of the game. Klas Dahlbeck was the late man off the bench and while multiple Red Wings were gathered near the crease, he had all the ice he needed to wind up a shot that sailed past goalie Jimmy Howard.
However, Detroit’s video team noticed a potential offsides on the play, which would negate the goal if it could be proved. So head coach Jeff Blashill used his coach’s challenge. It was very hard to tell on the replay whether the Coyotes player had crossed the blueline before the puck. It was almost too close to call. If the call were to stand, then Detroit had wasted their timeout plus the lengthy review process (effectively a longer timeout) at a point in which every player had not even taken a shift yet.
Luckily for the Wings, the goal was reversed, and a big momentum swing was gained with the new call.
Justin Abdelkader began the scoring just past the midway point of the first period. Rookie Dylan Larkin fired a shot on a spinaround maneuver which Abdelkader then finished with a backhander past Arizona Coyotes netminder Mike Smith.
With 41.7 seconds left in the first, Tomas Tatar retrieved the puck from behind the net and managed to pass it to defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who then moved up into the slot and fired a high wrist shot past Smith.
18 seconds later, Gustav Nyquist flipped the puck down ice, and somehow Smith misread the play and the center ice shot found the five-hole (a la Dan Cloutier, whom allowed a Nicklas Lidstrom red-line shot during the 2002 Stanley Cup Playoffs).
Also in the first, the Wings lost two forwards. Teemu Pulkkinen was hit hard along the boards by Martin Hanzal and shortly after, Drew Miller was also hit hard by Dahlbeck. Both left the game and would not return.
In the second period, the Yotes attempted to climb their way back into the game. The Nyquist goal which made it 3-0 chased Smith and he was replaced by backup Anders Lindback.
Jordan Martinook would get his team on the scoreboard early in the middle frame, but shortly after, it would be answered by Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who fired a blast from the blueline that beat Lindback.
In the third period, Darren Helm would find the back of the net for the first time this season. Lindback misplayed the puck behind his net and passed the puck right to the tape of Helm’s stick. He made no mistake finding the empty net, and the Red Wings would finish with the 5-1 lead.
“To score, he’s got to feel good about it,” said Blashill of Helm. “It takes some pressure off. His process and his game have been real good, but there’s nothing like getting that one and kind of getting that monkey off your back a little bit.”
It was the veteran defenseman’s 700th game, and he celebrated the occasion by scoring the game-winning goal Thursday.
“When I took the job, the one thing I felt is Kronner, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated defensemen in the league,” said Blashill. “Not that people don’t appreciate him, I think they do. But I think he’s a legit, legit, one defenseman when he’s on top of his game and he is that in my opinion because he can give you offense, he’s great defensively and he’s got great leadership. He’s got three unreal qualities.”
Domi and Duclair
One of the biggest storylines coming into the night was the play of rookies Max Domi and Anthony Duclair.
“They’re good,” said Howard. “They can definitely skate and they definitely have some skill up front there as you can see. I think they’re only going to get better as they mature here in the NHL.”
Best Game of the Season?
Detroit had 44 shots in the contest, only two fewer than the previous game, which set a season-high. Additionally their Corsi was 67, compared to 38 for the Coyotes.
It is one of the few games Detroit can say they dominated throughout a game’s entirety.
“It’s right up there,” said Blashill. “I think we’ve had a number of real good ones here lately, even going back to the Boston loss and that’s where I think results in the short term can trick you. That Boston loss we played as good as we had all year, including tonight, but tonight they went in a little bit more for us. So, I thought tonight’s process was good. I was happy with it.”
Pulkkinen and Miller Out Long-Term
Both fowards were injured in the contest. Pulkkinen is out with a dislocated shoulder and Miller is out with a broken jaw. Both will miss a minimum of six weeks.