The Detroit Red Wings played one of their best games of the season on Friday night, as they defeated the always dangerous Chicago Blackhawks 4-2.
Jimmy Howard made his return, playing in his first game since his injury occured during a December 20 matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Jimmy was good,” said coach Jeff Blashill. “I thought we were better defensively, than certainly we were in Boston…I thought Jimmy was excellent. I thought he controlled his rebounds well and made his saves look easy. So that’s a real positive after being out that long.”
It was yet another rough start for the Wings as Patrick Kane fed linemate Artemi Panarin a perfect one-timer, of which Panarin blasted past Howard, who had no chance to stop the puck. This came on only the second shot of the game.
With 4:46 remaining in the first period, Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader charged at Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell, hitting him high on the play. He was immediately confronted by Trevor van Riemsdyk, and the two had a rather lengthy fight, considering only one punch actually landed (from Abdelkader)
Fortunately Detroit would bounce back later in the first period, as Xavier Ouellet scored with 3:35 left in the first. Gustav Nyquist and Dylan Larkin assisted on the play.
Andreas Athanasiou scored with eight seconds remaining in the period to make it 2-1 before the first intermission. Chicago would challenge the play, arguing that Tomas Tatar brought the puck in offside. It was a tough call, but it was deemed that Tatar had control and the goal stood. He had the secondary assist as well.
In the second period, Tatar would make it 3-1. After whiffing on an empty-net opportunity, he managed to still score five-hole on Corey Crawford after the Hawks netminder attempted to regain position.
Then van Riemsdyk did what Detroit did in the first. He scored in the period’s final minute after a point shot beat Howard.
Tatar struck again late in the third period to secure the win for Detroit. He and Nyquist both finished the game with three points, while Zetterberg finished with two assists.
“I thought we were good,” said Blashill. “I thought we competed hard. We played with a great urgency level. I thought we played a pretty smart game. I recognize the fact that they played last night, but from our own perspective I thought we played real good.”
The win snapped a four-game losing streak, which included losses in Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Boston.
A Look Ahead
Sunday vs. New York Rangers (7:00 ET, NBCSN)
Wednesday @ Colorado (10:00, NBCSN)
Thursday @ Arizona (10:00, FSD)
Saturday vs. Colorado (1:00, FSD)