The Detroit Red Wings finally get it done again in the shootout, taking a win in the first of a 3-games-4-nights stretch 4-3 over the Washington Capitals.
The first period was very well-skated by the Red Wings. They maintained the vast majority of pressure in the Capitals’ end, and peppered goaltender Michal Neuvirth for the entirety of the period. Regardless, it would be Washington that struck first, on a questionable call that probably should have been offsetting minors to Danny DeKeyser and Martin Erat. At 15:24, on the ensuing power play, Niklas Backstrom threaded a pass through the feet of Niklas Kronwall to a waiting Jason Chimera, who tapped in the redirection to take the 1-0 lead leaving the first period. Detroit held an astounding 22-5 lead in shots after the first period.
Detroit’s offense would finally click to open up the second period. At 2:09, Neuvirth came way far out of his crease to play a loose puck against Drew Miller. It would end up in the corner with Miller with Neuvirth still halfway up the slot. Luke Glendening made good play to get the puck back toward the crease so Miller could put it into the open net to tie the game 1-1. They’d take the lead in the closing moments of the period, at 18:21, as Riley Sheahan won a faceoff in the Capitals’ end, getting the puck to DeKeyser, who let off a laser slapshot from the blue line, possibly slightly deflecting off a Washington player on the way, and past Neuvirth to take the 2-1 lead after two periods. Shot were 31-13 leaving the second.
The third period, though very upbeat for both sides, would end on a rather deflating note for Detroit. Washington struck first in the stanza, at 8:09, when Casey Wellman brought the puck into the zone on Jimmy Howard and got two shots off quick, both of which Howard stopped, but managed to get a third one in before the defense could finally get a stick on him and it found its way in to tie the game again 2-2. The Red Wings would answer though, at 10:15, when Gustav Nyquist picked up a loose puck fumbled on by a Washington defender. He brought it into the Capitals’ zone with Justin Abdelkader, who went to take the two defenders in front of Neuvirth, as Nyquist let off a wrist shot in the slot through Abdelkader, beating Neuvirth for the 3-2 lead again. In the closing seconds of the period, on the inevitable 6-on-5 for Washington, Alex Ovechkin let off a shot through traffic from the point that made its way through and past Howard to tie the game at 19:53; just 7 seconds left in the game, sending it into overtime. The OT period would fail to see a winner though, and it would be forced to a shootout for the second time this season between the two teams. Detroit ended 65 minutes with a big 45-29 lead in shots.
It would take 7 rounds of shots before the game was ultimately won by Detroit on a shot by Patrick Eaves, who came in patiently on Neuvirth and let off a wrist shot on his glove side and just inside the post for the only goal of the skills competition. Jay Beagle would be the last shooter for Washington, needing to score to keep it alive, but Howard came up huge stopping him in close to preserve the 4-3 shootout victory. This win puts them just barely on top of the bottom wild card playoff spot hunt. They need to continue producing points like this, particularly in regulation to preserve the 2-point victories and not turn them into 3-point games. Next game is the last of the season between these two teams on Sunday afternoon. See you then, Nation!