The Detroit Red Wings come back valiantly, but fall in an OT decision 6-5 to the Washington Capitals, dropping the season series 2-1.
The first period was a very, very sad display for the Red Wings. They didn’t manage to get a shot on goal until almost 9 minutes into the period. Washington’s aggressiveness on the puck and the forecheck would lead to some great opportunities that they cashed in on. At 4:43, after a few stops in front of Jimmy Howard, with sad defensive pressure on the Wings’ side, a rebound found its way out to Jason Chimera, who fired home the shot from the faceoff circle to make the early 1-0 lead. At 7:20, on a power play, Kyle Quincey was tripped up leaving the faceoff circle with no call on the play, so the puck would end up with Joel Ward in the middle of the slot, who fired a deflected shot past Howard for the 2-0 lead. Detroit wouldn’t sit down quietly, though. Even through the bad play, they managed a power play of their own and took the opportunity. At 11:40, Daniel Alfredsson directed a shot at Michal Neuvirth, that rebounded to Gustav Nyquist, who buried it to cut the lead to 2-1. The Capitals would regain their 2-goal lead at 16:05, when John Carlson, on another power play, let a slapshot loose from the top of the slot through traffic and past Howard for the 3-1 lead leaving the first period. Washington held the edge in shots 12-7.
Detroit would claw their way back into the game in the second period. At 13:30, Tomas Tatar took a pass on the rush with Riley Sheahan, and put an easy wrister on net that slipped through Neuvirth’s arm to cut the lead back down to one at 3-2. Washington responded just 19 seconds later, at 13:49, when Ward was left uncovered in front of Howard and scooped up a net-front pass and put it under Howard for their third 2-goal lead of the game 4-2. Detroit cut the lead again, though, late in the period, at 18:49 on a power play, when Henrik Zetterberg put a pass across the crease to a waiting Nyquist, who buried his second of the game to make the 4-3 score leaving the period. Shots were 22-17 in favor of Washington.
The third period was possibly the best comeback effort by Detroit all season. They’d strike just 42 seconds into the period, when Zetterberg faked a shot coming into the zone, got a cross-zone pass to Nyquist who tipped it into the goal for his first career hat trick, tying the game at 4-4. Washington responded again though, at 4:38, when Troy Brouwer took advantage of some slow, sloppy play by Detroit’s defense, when a turned over puck to the right of Howard found its way loose in front of him and Brouwer simply wristed it into the net for the 5-4 lead. The next tying goal came at 6:25, when Nyquist put the puck in front of Neuvirth in a scramble, and Justin Abdelkader put it under him to tie the game 5-5. Tight play by both sides would see the game go to OT, both sides getting a much-needed point. Shots in regulation ended at 30-25 for Detroit.
After such a great effort in the second half of the game, overtime would end very bitterly for Detroit. On a power play for a tripping call to Brendan Smith, Alex Ovechkin took a one-timer at the top of the faceoff circle and slapped the puck home at 2:37 to take the game 6-5 over Detroit. Final shot totals tallied at 30-28 for Detroit.
The saying that you can lose a game in the first period holds very true to this game. Washington obviously did not “win” it in the first, being that the Wings tied it late, but Detroit could very easily have prevented one, if not both, of the goals against in the first period with tighter, more disciplined play on their part. Nyquist puts up his not only first hat trick of his career, but also a 4-point night, and they still couldn’t find a way to make 5 goals win it for them. The defense definitely needs to get their act together soon if their playoff run is going to end up anywhere. They’ll get little rest, as they fly back home to take on the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow night at the Joe to close out a stretch of 3 games in 4 nights. See you then, Nation.