Red Wings-Capitals wrap-up: sometimes product overrules “process”

The Red Wings took a 5-4 OT decision from the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but Detroit blew a 3-1 3rd period lead en route to said victory, and that was of great concern–at least to Wings fans. The Red Wings themselves worried a little less about “process” than “product,” and Tomas Tatar’s OT winner afforded the Wings that luxury:


Our friends from Washington were frustrated with their 2nd period collapse, as they told’s Mike Vogel:

Second periods have been problematic for the Capitals at times this season, but it’s difficult to recall a worse 20 minutes of hockey from Washington in any of the 165 full periods the team has played this season. Detroit had 30 shot attempts to just five for the Capitals, the Wings outshot the Caps by 17-2, and Washington managed all of one shot on net in the final 19 minutes and 36 seconds of the middle frame of Sunday’s game.

The Wings broke open a 1-1 tie with three goals on five shots in less than three minutes late in the middle period, and the first two of those tallies were separated by a mere nine seconds.

“Yeah, that was the worst of the year by far,” says Caps winger Brett Connolly. “Guys were not happy in between periods. We’re trying to build our game up here, and trying to get points. And obviously, we got a point. It’s a positive, but guys are not happy in the room. Yeah, not good. I don’t think anybody’s going to be happy tonight, going to sleep. Can’t start like that in games.”

Asked after the contest whether he was angry about his team’s second-period performance or happy that they were able to come back to pick up a point, Caps coach Barry Trotz answered as you’d expect a bench boss to answer.

“Angry about the second period,” replies Trotz. “The first period was fine. I felt that we could have been up a couple of pucks, but we missed on a couple of opportunities, missed the net on some real good chances, and then you come out of that period 1-1.

“Second period, [the Red Wings] were hungry. They were winning the races, they were playing quicker, they were playing better, they were just more determined, more desperate, whatever terms you want to say.”

Trotz didn’t blame Braden Holtby for the goals against…

“We’re scoring enough, we’re getting four goals, says Trotz. “We’ve just got to keep them out of our net a little bit. I thought Holts – I mean, we gave up five goals – but I thought Holts played a real strong game for us and he gave up five goals. So that’s on the group, that’s on the staff, that’s on everybody. We’ve got to put as much pride into keeping pucks out of our net as we do scoring right now.”

And, as he told the Washington Times’ Matthew Paras, Holtby gave it to the Caps verbally after the 2nd period, and understandably so:

When Holtby returned to the locker room during the second intermission of Sunday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings, coach Barry Trotz said Holtby had some words for his teammates.

“He was upset and rightfully so,” Trotz said. “We left him to dry.”

Down 4-1, the Capitals erased a three-goal deficit in the third period — only to lose in overtime. Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar beat Holtby on a 2-on-1 breakaway to score the winning goal.

The Capitals could have looked at Sunday’s effort in one of two ways: They either were relieved they climbed out of such a hole in 20 minutes and still managed to earn a point in the standings, or they could be upset they allowed the second period to happen in the first place.They chose the latter.

“We got a point we didn’t deserve,” Trotz said. “We took a period off.”

“We’ve got to look for consistency here,” center Nicklas Backstrom said. “That’s what’s going to make us successful here in the future.”

The Capitals did rally to tie the game, as the Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty noted

Fans at Capital One Arena were quieted after loud, collective sighs followed each goal, and a “Let’s go Red Wings!” chant echoed from the rafters while a few scattered “Let’s Go Caps” cheers petered out. Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said a frustrated Holtby addressed his teammates between periods.

“A lot was said,” added Capitals center Jay Beagle. “It’s not good enough. No one wants to play like that in the second. We knew that wasn’t good enough and we came out and responded in the third.”

The comeback started with Connolly’s 14th goal of the season, a whistling wrist shot past Howard. Orlov slimmed the Red Wings’ lead to one with 5:58 left, and the Capitals emptied their net as the game clock ticked past the two-minute mark. Their six-on-five advantage soon became six-on-four when Dan DeKeyser went to the penalty box for holding with 1:15 left in regulation.

The Capitals knocked the puck around their offensive zone before Backstrom fired a wrist shot that beat Howard high and sent the arena — dotted with chunks of seats vacated by fans who left early — into a jumping, screaming frenzy.

But those 20 minutes of sound, stirring hockey only went so far.

“The first period was okay, the second period was terrible, and then the third period was probably our best period of the year after our worst period,” Connolly said. “It was just a wild game. It was all over the place. We’ve got to find a balance here of good and bad, for sure.”

NBC Sports Washington’s J.J. Regan gave out “3 star” awards

1. Tomas Tatar: The Caps nearly completed the comeback, but Tatar finished them off in overtime as he backhanded shot to the roof to beat Braden Holtby on a 2-on-1. It was his second goal of the game as he also scored with just 11 seconds remaining in the second period to give Detroit the 4-1 lead.

2. Justin Abdelkader: Washington was in control in the first period until Justin Abdelkader swooped in to steal the puck away from Matt Niskanen. Niskanen went to retrieve the puck in the neutral zone, but he could not control the bouncing biscuit allowing Abdelkader the opportunity to steal it. Abdelkader was in alone on Holtby and deked him badly before tucking the puck into the net behind him. In the second period, Abdelkader drew a holding the stick penalty early from Lars Eller. The Red Wings would not score on the resulting power play, but it allowed them to build momentum to take control of the period and ultimately the game.

3. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin scored his 10th power play goal of the season in the first period as he fired a one-timer past Jimmy Howard from the office.

And among Regan’s reasons “why the Caps lost“…

A bouncing puck in the neutral zone

Things started out well. Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps the early lead with a power play tally and Washington looked to be in control. They were even outshooting Detroit early on. But everything changed midway through the period when a bouncing puck trickled into the neutral zone. Matt Niskanen tried to retrieve it, but could not after a few unfortunate bounces allowing Justin Abdelkader to swoop in and steal it away. Abdelkader would deke Braden Holtby on the breakaway to tie the game at 1.

The second period

There’s no sugarcoating it, the second period was a disaster for Washington. Lars Eller took an early holding the stick call and, though Detroit did not score on the power play, the momentum began to swing in their favor from that point on. For nearly 17 minutes, Holtby kept the game tied at 1, but then the floodgates opened. Luke Glendening put Detroit up 2-1, Anthony Mantha scored nine seconds later and Tomas Tatar scored with 11 seconds remaining in the period to send the Caps into the locker room down 4-1.

The Associated Press’s recap will serve as the pivot point between the Capitals and Red Wings’ perspectives:

“It’s not good enough. No one wants to play like that in the second,” Washington center Jay Beagle said. “We can’t leave our goalie out to dry, and it’s been happening a lot lately. They’ve been holding us in there and getting us wins, but it’s starting to show now.”

The Capitals pulled within one on goals by Connolly and Orlov. They had a two-man advantage when they pulled Holtby and Dan Dekeyser was called for holding with 1:15 left, and Backstrom tied it with his 13th goal.

The Red Wings were happy with their product…

“A lot of people expected us to fold after a tough game,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I thought we got back up real well.”

Tatar beat Braden Holtby for his 14th goal of the season. He also scored with 11 seconds to play in the second period to give Detroit a 4-1 lead.

Justin Abdelkader, Luke Glendening and Anthony Mantha also scored for the Red Wings, and Jimmy Howard made 23 saves in his first win since Jan. 5.

“It was tough. I was worried it might be the same story as against the Islanders,” Tatar said. “You don’t want that to happen. I felt really bad after the game. If you have two in a row like that, it would be just miserable.”

And the Wings continued sharing their game narrative while speaking with’s Brian McNally:

“It was a lot like the first two periods we played in New York,” Larkin said. “The encouraging thing is we can play like that. We can have teams on the ropes, and good teams on the ropes.”

Detroit outshot Washington 17-2 in the second period, including one from Larkin that hit the post at 6:18 and caromed off the back of Holtby’s left leg and slid toward the open net before he recovered to clear the puck off the line.

“That was the worst [period] of the year by far. Guys were not happy in between periods,” Washington forward Brett Connolly said. “We’re trying to build our game up here. Obviously, we got a point. That’s a positive. But guys are not happy in the room. Not good.”

Connolly scored at 2:32 of the third period to cut the lead to 4-2. Dmitry Orlov made it 4-3 at 14:02 on a one-timer from the right circle.

Howard stopped T.J. Oshie‘s wrist shot with a glove save 30 seconds into overtime and made another on Andre Burakovsky in front two minutes into the period.

“It was just, ‘All right, we’ve got 17 seconds and then overtime,'” Larkin said. “We go to OT and we had our plan. They got some chances there, but [Howard] came up big, and then we had our one chance and [Tatar] made a great play.”

The Red Wings’ captain told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan that the Capitals’ comeback was simply a product of an excellent opponent being an excellent opponent…

“We didn’t sit back or play tentative,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “They scored some nice goals off good plays. We played the way we wanted to in those situations and the puck is in our net. We got rewarded with some goals and we played good (for large portions of the game). We were quick in our own end and did some good things. We deserved the two points.”

Luke Glendening (8th, 16:53), Anthony Mantha (19th, 17:02) and Tatar (19:49) scored during the second-period explosion, three goals in 2:56.  The Red Wings outshot Washington 17-2 in the second period.

Justin Abdelkader (9th) opened the Red Wings’ scoring in the first period, while goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped 23 shots for the victory.

“Certainly you don’t like to give up the lead but the story of the game for me was a lot of people probably expected us to fold after a tough game (Friday),” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We’ve had some tough ones. But you get back up and we got back real well.”

So, the Red Wings return home having earned three of a possible four points on this short two-game weekend road trip, and with the knowledge they out-played two potential playoff teams for large portions of those games. This late in the season, with their own playoff hopes dim and likely gone, it was an encouraging note.

“I walk out of these two games and say there’s tons of encouraging signs,” Blashill said. “This team (Washington) is one of the best teams in the East and the Islanders have been a playoff team most of the year, and for the majority of the games we outplayed them, certainly (Sunday) in the second period we totally outplayed them. We have to keep doing what we’re doing, stay with it, and make sure we find ways to continue to win games like we did tonight.”

Tomas Tatar reiterated his points of emphasis to the Free Press’s Helene St. James…

“I was worried it might (be the) same story as against Islanders,” Tomas Tatar said after securing the victory with his second goal of the game. “It felt really bad after the game and if you have two in a row like that, it’s miserable. I’m glad we got the two points, that’s big for us. It can give us a lift for sure. The last one, it feels really bad. It was tough on us in the locker room. Now you can see everybody smiling, so this is huge win.”

And St. James found the Wings to be a confident bunch after the game:

Henrik Zetterberg said the Wings felt they deserved two points. Nicklas Backstrom scored with 16.7 seconds to go in regulation after the Capitals had turned a power play into a two-skater advantage by pulling their goalie. But the Wings eyed overtime and, in Zetterberg’s words, said, “Go out and play with confidence.”

Jimmy Howard made two saves in overtime and Trevor Daley made the block of the game when he thwarted one of Alex Ovechkin’s blasts. Daley had an ice pack wrapped around his left hand afterwards. Tatar ended the game when he skated in on an odd-man rush and got the puck from Dylan Larkin, stuffing a backhand on Braden Holtby.

The Wings spoke of needing to figure out how to turn big leads into regulation victories, but took some satisfaction from being able to build big leads in the first place.

“The encouraging thing is we can play like that,” Larkin said. “We can have teams on the ropes and good teams on the ropes. We came out and we played the same game we did the first two periods in New York. We’re a good team. When we play like that it’s fun hockey. Everyone is rolling — every line scored and that’s when the guys are going and we’re having fun, smiling. When we get those leads, we need to stay tight.”

Among Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff’s notes

Howard’s End: Jimmy Howard made 23 saves to post his first victory since Jan. 5, ending a personal five-game losing skid.

“He made a couple of big saves in overtime,” Blashill said. “We find a way to win the game, and lots of times you need saves for that to happen. I thought he did a good job of making sure we won the game.”

Daley Sacrifice: Defenseman Trevor Daley was also earning kudos after the game for sacrificing his body in OT to block a drive off the stick of Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin.

“Iron man,” Tatar said. “To block these kind of shots you need to be brave. He blocked a few of them. The last one probably hurt the most.”

Blashill was happy to report that Daley was feeling no ill effects from the blast.

“He’s got that in him for sure,” Blashill said of Daley’s courage. “It was an unreal block.  I think he’s going to be alright, so that’s good to see.”

And among’s Dana Wakiji’s “Trending” recap notes:

Justin Abdelkader: Last season was a tough one for the Wings’ alternate captain, who was limited to 64 games because of a knee injury. Although he has had a fractured cheekbone that only kept him out one game and a groin injury that forced him to miss six games, Abdelkader has otherwise been fairly healthy. At 13:37 of the first period, Abdelkader picked the pocket of Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen and broke in alone on Holtby. Abdelkader deked right, got Holtby out of position and then beat him stick-side. The goal, assisted by Frans Nielsen, was Abdelkader’s ninth of the season, two more than he had all of last season. His 23 points are also two more than he had all of last season.

Quotable: “After the second, when I thought we pushed back hard, I guess score would be the only thing else we could have done. I thought we pushed back hard at that point. The one thing we talk about is making sure one mistake doesn’t lead to two and lead to three and when you make a mistake, let’s make a hard play and if you have to ice the puck, ice the puck, but let’s make sure one mistake stays at one mistake, so that’s something we’ll keep working on. I thought there were moments of hard push-back, you get late in the game there and you take a penalty and they’re able to score. They obviously got a good power play. Our PK is a little fragile right now but we’ll get the PK going, we got great penalty-killers. We’ll get it back going.” – Blashill

Quotable II: “It was nice to see that we got the two points. It is important for us. This road trip, we got three out of four points and that’s the only thing we can focus on, getting as many points as we can here. When we’re playing well, we’re playing good hockey. When we roll the four lines, a lot of the guys are contributing offensively. We just got to stick with it.” – Zetterberg


Highlights: posted a 4:45 highlight clip…

And an 8:50 “Condensed Game”:

 Post-game: The Capitals’ website posted Barry Trotz’s six-and-a-half-minute-long presser…

And the Capitals also posted a 7:33 clip of comments from Jay Beagle, Brett Connolly and Nicklas Backstrom;

Fox Sports Detroit posted post-game comments from Henrik Zetterberg…

Coach Jeff Blashill…

Tomas Tatar…

Dylan Larkin…

And Anthony Mantha:

The Red Wings posted a combined clip of comments from Zetterberg, Mantha, Tatar, Larkin and coach Blashill:

The Free Press’s Helene St. James also posted a combined clip of comments from Tatar, Larkin and Blashill’s comments:


Photos: The Free Press posted a 20-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 7-image gallery;

ESPN posted an 11-image gallery;

And and the Red Wings‘ website posted 19-image galleries.


Here’s the Game Summary

And the Event Summary:

Final shot attempts were 57-49 Detroit.


Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: From the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:

Anthony Mantha’s goal Sunday gave him 19 for the season and three in the last two games.

Mantha was a noticeable force during the weekend, using his big body and showing speed.

“What I’m seeing now is work ethic,” Blashill said. “He’s been excellent. His second effort has been good. He’s skating. He’s been real good.”

With Mantha, Blashill is consistent in his belief that as long as Mantha skates hard, he’ll be a factor.

“He’s bending his knees,” Blashill said. “When he bends his knees and skates, he’s excellent. That’s the fire-starter for him. The one thing that makes a big difference is when he bends his knees and skates rather than when he’s straight-legged. He’s been working on that for a long time and his work ethic has been great the last 10 games.”

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

3 thoughts on “Red Wings-Capitals wrap-up: sometimes product overrules “process””

    1. I don’t have the exact numbers, but the Wings win at least 2/3rds of the games he plays in.

  1. Matt Niskanen should be getting a free dinner from the Red Wings players after that game, lol. Day games are always hard on players with one team usually sharper than the other/awake. Caps looked lethargic for most of this game.

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