The Detroit Red Wings snapped a 10-game winless streak over the course of a 5-4 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, but the Red Wings blew 3-1, 3-2 and 4-3 leads in frustrating fashion, flopping and flailing their way through a difficult 3rd period.
The shootout was fun, at least…
At least the Flyers and their media corps are finding out the hard way that Petr Mrazek, who will probably net the Wings one 3rd-round pick in compensation, is incredibly, sometimes maddeningly inconsistent.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Donnellon groused about Mrazek’s difficult performance against his former teammates…
He can be spectacular — Detroit fired 13 shots in the first period, trying every which way to score. Svechnikov tried a nifty wraparound that forced Mrazek to go post to post. Frans Nielsen went with the sneaky backhander in front, using his body to screen his old teammate’s vision. Mrazek got a glove on that. Larkin had three chances, there were those wide-angle shots that Mrazek has shown vulnerability to and a power play to boot, but when the period ended, the Flyers emerged scoreless thanks to their rented goaltender.
But then comes the maddening soft goals, the juicy rebounds off manageable shots and a general inability to get a stoppage when his teammates are scrambling or tired.
Mrazek is now 5-6-0-1 in 12 starts as the Flyers goaltender, and is allowing an average of more than three goals per game.
Traded to the Flyers on for two draft picks, Mrazek’s success as a Flyer will dictate where the first of those picks land. Make the playoffs, and the Red Wings receive a third-round pick. Win six playoff games, advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, and that pick jumps to the second round.
The good news for Flyers fans is that the latter is becoming less likely to occur with each outing. It’s also the bad news. He is now clearly on a short leash with Hakstol, who has Michael Neuvirth traveling with the team and, it would seem, may return to action sooner than Brian Elliott does.
Meanwhile Lyon keeps giving the Flyers what they need: A steady hand who can make the routine save and an occasional spectacular one, a goalie who has a hockey player’s mentality when it comes to getting a stoppage.
Keep it up, it’s likely to make him some real money down the line. Mrazek? Not so much.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi issued similar remarks while noting that the Flyers as a team are inconsistent, too:
Two nights after they whipped the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals, the Flyers showed little urgency against a weak Detroit team.
Until the third period. The Flyers swarmed the net in the third, overcame deficits of 3-1 and 4-3 as they got goals from Matt Read (his first NHL tally in nearly a year), Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny to tie the score at 4-4. The Flyers had a 16-4 shots domination in the third.
They salvaged a point, but they should have had two. As a result, they fell into the first wild-card spot.
Only Buffalo has a worse record than Detroit in the 16-team Eastern Conference, and the Red Wings took a 10-game losing streak into the night.
The Red Wings are going nowhere when the season ends, but for the first 40 minutes, they outplayed and outhustled a Flyers team that can finish anywhere from first in the Metro to…well, out of the playoff picture.
The Flyers have beaten elite teams such as Tampa Bay, Washington (three times), Toronto (three times), and Vegas, and they have lost to such also-rans as Arizona, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Detroit, among others.
Donnellon also posted a recap with quotes, and he noted that Mrazek was willing to talk about his difficult start…
“Not the way I wanted to end up a game like that,” Mrazek said. “I should have had that second goal. We gave them the momentum.’”
Lyon took it away. He stopped all but one of the 12 shots he faced in the 34 minutes and 36 seconds that followed, including Danny DeKeyser point-blank twice in overtime, and two of three in a shootout, once again facilitating a frantic Flyers third-period rally from two goals down that almost pulled out an unlikely victory but ultimately earned them an all-important point. “Whatever I can do to help the boys out,” he said. “But it was a disappointing result.”
Frans Nielsen’s shootout goal, the only one scored, gave Detroit a 5-4 victory that was built on their two-period dominance of the Flyers — and Mrazek’s latest uneven effort.
The Flyers had a chance to win it in regulation after Niklas Kronwall was sent off for leveling Travis Konecny in front of Detroit’s net with 34.9 seconds left. Sean Couturier hit iron, and Wayne Simmonds, after losing his feet, could not push a rebound into an open side of the net with just seconds remaining.
They also squandered well over a minute of power-play time remaining in the overtime. “We didn’t get a ton when we went to the 4 on 3 in overtime,” said Flyers coach Dave Hakstol. “We never really got to the inside. That was a real good opportunity for us to finish the game and unfortunately we weren’t able to take advantage of it.”
Mrazek continued while speaking with the Courier-Post’s Dave Isaac…
“Not the way I wanted to end a game like that,” Mrazek said. “Good start. Good first period. After the first goal, Glenny went from the side…I should have that second goal. Then we gave them momentum. We gave them three goals in the second period.”
Mrazek was seen talking to the coaches as he was pulled, but he clarified after the game that he wasn’t contesting his being pulled from the game. He was asking if the Flyers saw enough to challenge for goalie interference because someone bumped him on the third goal.
“The second one’s a bad angle goal,” Hakstol said. “Obviously he wants that one back. We gave up a number of opportunities that he was very strong on.”
Who noted that the Flyers were of mixed reaction to their slow start and rally:
“Maybe we thought it was gonna be an easy game and didn’t play the right way, didn’t play hard,” Sean Couturier said. “We wasted 40 minutes. We came back, got a big point. We can’t be wasting time at this time of the year.”
“I don’t know about all 40,” Shayne Gostisbehere countered. “I mean, the second period was godawful on our part. We really didn’t help our cause out. We had a bunch of plays and just weren’t battling out there. You saw in the third what we can do when you really light a fire under our ass, but it’s tough like that. When you dig yourself a hole and come back, you’re expensing a lot of energy and it’s hard to hang on.”
Columbus won and jumped the Flyers. They are now in a wild card spot because they couldn’t take two points from a Red Wings team that had lost 10 straight.
It wasn’t until they stormed back with Matt Read’s first NHL goal in nearly a full calendar year and Gostisbehere scoring on the power play that they knew they had Detroit on the ropes. Dylan Larkin scored his second of the game with roughly six minutes left, but Travis Konecny answered 28 seconds later to tie it again.
“We had to get playing. We had to get going,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “If we did that we would give ourselves a chance. We scratched and clawed our way out. That’s a huge point that we did scratch and claw for, but it’s also an important point we let slide by too easily in the first 40 minutes of the hockey game.”
The Flyers’ website posted a narrative recap from Philly’s perspective…
The Flyers scored three goals on 16 shots in the third period to force overtime, but the Red Wings prevailed in the eventual shootout in Detroit on Tuesday to wrap up the season series.
After a scoreless first period, the game changed to a 3-1 Detroit lead in the span of four minutes in the second – Dylan Larkin (6:08) and Luke Glendening (7:59, SHG) made it 2-0, and after Sean Couturier got one back at 8:53 on the power play, Evgeny Svechnikov made it 3-1 with his first NHL goal at 9:57.
Matt Read started the comeback with a goal 7:46 into the third, and Shayne Gostisbehere tied it just under two minutes later. After Larkin made it 4-3 with 5:54 to play, Travis Konecny re-tied it 28 seconds later.
Frans Nielsen’s goal in the first round of the shootout was the only one of the session. Alex Lyon absorbed the SOL with 11 saves on 12 shots in 34:36 of action after stepping in for Petr Mrazek, who stopped 13 of 16 shots in 29:57. Jimmy Howard took the win with 27 saves on 31 shots.
Tonight’s turning point came after several different moments of adversity throughout. The Flyers fought back from a 3-1 deficit with just under 15 minutes left in the third period to score two quick goals. Then, after the Red Wings regained the lead, the club didn’t surrender and Travis Konecny scored the equalizer by crashing the net with less than five minutes to go… That eventually forced a point and gave the Flyers more opportunities to get the win prior to the shootout.
NHL.com’s Dave Hogg’s recap will serve as our pivot point between the Flyers and Red Wings’ perspectives:
“We were getting pretty desperate because it has been a while since we’ve won a game,” said Larkin, who had his third two-goal game in the NHL, first since Oct. 25, 2016. “It feels great to finally get two points.”
Detroit (27-35-11) is 17 points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second Eastern wild card. The Flyers trailed 3-1 entering the third period but tied the game with two goals in 1:54.
“We knew they had lost 10 in a row, so they were going to be fragile,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “If we could get one, we thought we could get back into it.”
Matt Read scored his first goal of the season at 7:46 of the third period to bring Philadelphia to within 3-2, and Gostisbehere tied it 3-3 with a power-play goal at 9:40. Larkin scored his second of the game at 14:06 to put Detroit ahead 4-3, but Travis Konecny tied it 4-4 at 14:34.
“You could see we didn’t have a lot of confidence in the third, but we stayed with it and battled,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We got it to overtime and ended up winning it.”
Larkin gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead at 6:08 of the second period, beating Mrazek with a wrist shot from the right face-off dot.
“It felt pretty good to score on Petr,” Larkin said. “I was getting worried in the first period, because he looked so comfortable out there.”
The Red Wings felt that their less-than-convincing win was still enough to break their losing streak, and that was more than enough, as they told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
The win ended a 10-game winless streak for the Red Wings, who hadn’t won since Feb. 25.
“Hopefully it takes the monkey off everyone’s back and we can just go out there and play the last nine games, compete hard, and have some confidence heading into the offseason,” said Howard, who outplayed his old goaltending partner by stopping 27 shots.
After Sunday’s loss in Denver, there was a definite sense of frustration building within the Red Wings dressing room.
“We talked about it as a team after the last game, certainly frustration was starting to boil over,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Our guys came out and played great. The third period wasn’t good enough, but we played great for two periods (and) to finish was critical. You don’t want to come in here and talk about another loss. It was critical (to win).”
Dylan Larkin scored his second goal of the game, 11th of the season, converting an Anthony Mantha feed past Flyers goalie Alex Lyon (who replaced Mrazek) at 14 minutes, 6 seconds of the third period, giving the Red Wings a brief, 4-3 lead.
But the Flyers tied it 4-4 just 28 seconds later on Travis Konecny’s 20th goal, with him driving to the net, and redirecting a puck past Howard. Matt Read and Shayne Gostisbehere (power play) scored 1:54 apart midway in the third period, tying the game 3-3.
“The third period was exemplary of what happens when you haven’t won, you don’t have the confidence that you do when you win,” Blashill said. “Our gaps got real soft and we just laid back too much. But good for the guys to stay with it and find a way. We had a lot of chances in overtime after that power play (for Philadelphia). It was a good win.”
And among DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji’s “Trending” recap’s points of emphasis:
Evgeny Svechnikov: Svechnikov hadn’t played more than 9:24 in any of the six games he had played entering Tuesday night. Before the game, Blashill had said Svechnikov had the tools and just had to play with confidence. At 9:57 of the second, Svechnikov was in the slot when he gathered a rebound and buried it for his first career NHL goal. Svechnikov was immediately mobbed at the bench after scoring. Martin Frk and Larkin assisted. Svechnikov did have a shootout winner in his first career game last April against the Ottawa Senators. Svechnikov finished with 13 shifts for 8:38, had four shots, a hit, a takeaway, a blocked shot and was plus-1.
Quotable: “Great bounce, had the good shift, lot of bounce, like I said, but tried to feed Frky and he shot it and it bounced right on my tape, tried to shoot again and it went in. Best feeling.” – Svechnikov
Quotable II: “It was awesome. His big hockey smile was good. It was a special moment, I was glad to be on the ice with him and to see how pumped up he is, it was pretty cool.” – Larkin
Quotable III: “I thought he played the way he’s gonna have to play to be successful. He was heavy on the puck. Him and I talked about how can he be different than other players on our team? The one thing that I think he can do is be real heavy and be strong on the puck. He’s a big, thick guy, he’s got ability, so be heavy and strong. He doesn’t want to get into a track meet up and down the sheet. He wants to be a guy who can spend time in the O-zone. I thought he did that to a large degree tonight, so that’s a great step. We need more of that. Part of having a great half-court game is spending time in the O-zone. All they can do is get out and try to change and then you try to pounce on them off the change in transition.” – Blashill
If there is anything to place one’s hopes upon as this season winds down, it’s the promise of Larkin, Mantha, Athanasiou, Bertuzzi and now Svechnikov.
Update: Here’s a bit more from the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
Svechnikov scored his first NHL goal when he connected on the puck down low. It was his sixth game since the Wings called him up, and the sort of performance that can boost a young player learning the league.
“He’s playing better,” Larkin said. “Less thinking and more skating and making plays. He’s a big body. He’s great around the net like you saw. I think he’s doing well. And when you score one, you can get hot and by the end of the season he could have six or seven, which would be awesome for him going into the summer or going back to Grand Rapids and playing in the playoffs.
“You get chances — you miss, you laugh. You get mad. Tons of emotion. He’s had chances, he hasn’t scored. Tonight he went to the net and he had his stick on the ice and there was an empty net and he put it in. That can do a lot for his confidence. Now he just has to keep building.”
Six or seven goals may be optimistic given there are nine games left on the schedule, but Svechnikov at the very least earned the right to feel good about himself. He’s not fast, but at 6-foot-3, 212-pound he can be heavy on the puck. Maybe he’ll start seeing more than 8-9 minutes per game.
“I’ve talked lots about it — is it the chicken or the egg? Do you get ice time and produce or do you earn the ice time?” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I thought he took a step in the right direction tonight in terms of earning more ice time. He’s still got to find ways to outplay other players, but I thought he was heavy on the puck and got rewarded with a goal.”
Larkin hadn’t scored since Feb. 13. He has done a good job overall this season at center (his assist on Svechnikov’s goal was his 42nd of the season) but has been dissatisfied with his goal scoring (11). Tuesday saw him score off an odd-man rush on ex-Wings goalie Petr Mrazek, and later buried a pass from Anthony Mantha for a 4-3 lead in the third period.
“It felt good to get some pucks,” Larkin said. “I had a couple good chances and it felt pretty good to score on Petr. The second one was a nice feed from Mo. It does feel good to get a little confidence in scoring.”
Blashill said Larkin “has really, really played good from the Minnesota game on and hasn’t gotten rewarded with points and that’s a hard thing, but he stayed with it. He’s done a real good job of playing a 200-foot game, and that’s what’s going to make him a great player in this league. He understands that.”
It was difficult to tell in the dressing room if the Detroit Red Wings were especially excited or simply relieved.
“Obviously, everyone was frustrated,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “A lot of us have never gone through that in this dressing room. It was one of those things that just sort of snowballed. I’m glad we were just able to find a way to get a W today.”
Dylan Larkin scored twice, Luke Glendending had a goal and Evgeny Svechnikov got his first in the NHL for the Red Wings. Howard made 27 saves through overtime and stopped all three attempts he faced in the shootout.
The win didn’t come without some anxious moments for the Red Wings. They squandered 3-1 and 4-3 leads in the third period, and were forced to kill off a penalty to Danny DeKeyser that was assessed late in the third and carried into overtime.
“I though the third period was exemplary of what happens when you haven’t won,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “You don’t have the confidence that you do when you win. I thought our gaps got real soft, we laid back too much. Good for our guys to stay with it. I thought we had lots of chances in overtime after their power play.”
Highlights: NBCSN posted a 2:43 highlight clip…
The Red Wings’ website posted a 3:52 post-game clip of comments from Dylan Larkin, Evgeny Svechnikov, Jimmy Howard and coach Jeff Blashill:
The Detroit News posted a 17-image gallery;
ESPN posted an 18-image gallery;
Here’s the Game Summary…
And the Event Summary:
The final shot attempts were 71-52 Philadelphia.