It was the biggest game of the year for both teams, but only one team showed up ready to play when the puck dropped. An amazingly terrible first period put the Detroit Red Wings (34-25-11) behind the eight-ball, and they were unable to recover.
The Philadelphia Flyers (33-23-12) created enough separation early on to withstand a late comeback attempt from the Red Wings, as they won by a 4-3 final score. This was the 11th straight game that Detroit has lost when playing in Philadelphia, a streak that dates all the way back to 1997.
With the loss, Detroit now stands just one point ahead of the Flyers for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, with Philadelphia having two more games remaining on their schedule than the Red Wings.
The first period was one of the worst we have seen from Detroit this season. Philadelphia opened the scoring at 5:41 on a goal from Michael Raffl, when he blew past Kyle Quincey and deposited a backhander past Petr Mrazek. Just one minute and 14 seconds later, Wayne Simmonds increased the Flyers’ lead to 2-0 when he fired home a rebound. At the end of the period, shots on goal were an astounding 23-3 in favor of Philadelphia.
The Red Wings showed a bit fight to start the second period. Rookie Andreas Athanasiou used his speed to sneak behind coverage and bury a goal at 2:14 of the period, giving the Wings a spark. The defense was again caught flat-footed at 7:01, when Raffl buried his second of the game, as he beat Mrazek with an uncontested backhand shot. Pavel Datsyuk cut the deficit back to one with his 14th of the season at 14:21. Tomas Tatar made a nice play behind the goal and found an open Datsyuk in front who buried the shot. Flyers rookie Shayne Gostisbehere gave the Flyers their insurance goal back at 18:54 of the period, when his pass attempt deflected off the knee of Danny DeKeyser and past Mrazek. Despite scoring twice in the period, the Red Wings trailed 4-2 after 40 minutes.
Tatar scored his 19th of the season at 16:14 of the third period to make it a one-goal game, but Gustav Nyquist‘s slashing penalty with 57 seconds left on the clock was the icing on the cake.
Rookie Anthony Mantha had an impressive NHL debut, creating multiple chances, and hitting the post on a breakaway.
The Red Wings will be in action again tomorrow evening, when they travel to face the Columbus Blue Jackets.