Red Wings-Bruins wrap-up: In the year 3,000…ugly wins still count

The Detroit Red Wings’ 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins was as improbable as it was real–a win in which the Red Wing were out-shot 42-16, out-attempted 67-37, and out-chanced by a similarly lop-sided margin…

But it was a win in which Alex Nedeljkovic was not the only star. Filip Zadina scored a rare goal, Marc Staal scored a rarer goal in a fine performance, and the Red Wings first nursed and then slowly but surely took control of a game in which the Boston Bruins dictated the offense, but not necessarily the flow thereof (or the lack of flow).

The Wings will take their 3rd straight victory with them as they head home to Detroit to battle the Seattle Kraken on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena (7:30 PM EST start on Bally Sports Detroit/ROOT Northwest/97.1 FM), and that game’s not going to be easy: Seattle sits at 8-13-and-1, but they’ve won 4 of their past 5 games, so they’re coming on (and lying in wait for the Wings at LCA).

Now our friends from Boston were justifiably annoyed to be without the services of Brad Marchand (suspension) and coach Bruce Cassidy (COVID protocol), which were sizeable absences, but Taylor Hall told NESN’s Sean T. McGuire that the B’s tried to roll with the punches

Taylor Hall, who took Marchand’s spot on the top line alongside Bergeron and David Pastrnak, was asked about how the absences impacted Boston’s preparations.

“Everything happened really fast,” Hall said Tuesday after Boston’s 2-1 loss to Detroit. “You know, the (Marchand) thing came out last night and then come to the rink this morning and know that (Bruce Cassidy) not going to be behind the bench. You got to adjust and that’s the world that we live in right now.

“And that’s the season and the league that everyone in league has to go through at some point this year,” Hall said. “It doesn’t seem like COVID is going away right now and every team has had to battle through some things. And right now that’s some adversity that we have.”

Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco took Cassidy’s place behind the bench.

Both Hall and interim head coach Sacco felt that the Bruins gave the Red Wings too easy a ride, as Sacco told NESN’s Alexandra Francisco

Looking at the shot totals for the Boston Bruins compared to the final score, you’d think the stats were from two different games. That was not the case, with the Detroit Red Wings prevailing with a 2-1 victory despite being out-shot by the Bruins 42-16. Yes, you read that correctly.

“We didn’t pass up on a lot of shots,” Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco, filling in for Bruce Cassidy, said after the game. “I did think we made it a little bit easy on the goaltender at times by not getting in front of them enough. I thought we could have done a better job of providing a screen, taken his sight lines away better than what we did. certainly make it a little bit harder on him. But I thought we had some good quality chances. I thought we tried to get inside in the game tonight, we played inside the dots in the offensive zone. So unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish off some of those chances, some of those looks.”

Hall agreed…

“It’s great to get that amount of shots and zone time and control the game like that,” Taylor Hall said after the game. “But, you know, it’s the score at the end of the night that dictates how we’re going to feel right now and the next day and those are games in the schedule that, when you play like that, you want to come away with points and obviously that’s something we got to do better at. I feel like on the majority of nights during the season, we’ve controlled play and haven’t had the record that we want.”

But the Bruins also felt that they were adequately prepared for the game, as they told the Boston Globe’s Julian Benbow:

“I thought our guys were prepared to play tonight when the puck dropped,” Sacco said. “I thought that our guys had good jump. I thought the bench had good energy during the course of the game. Obviously, Brad provides an element to our team that we miss and that we’re going to miss for the next two games, no question, but I thought our group did a good job for the most part being ready to play. They were dialed in and we had good intensity during the course of the game.”

Filip Zadina got the Red Wings on the board in the second period, breaking free after a Charlie Coyle giveaway and beating Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark with a backhand for his fourth goal of the season.

The Bruins had 14 players land shots on the net. Point-blank opportunities — such as Hall’s whiff on a one-timer on a pass from Charlie McAvoy in the second period — passed them by. The top line combined to go 1 for 17.

“Those are games in the schedule that when you play like that, you want to come away with points, and obviously that’s something we’ve got to do better at,” Hall said. “I feel like on the majority of nights during the season, we’ve controlled play and haven’t had the record that we want.”

The Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy offered this game narrative

For the second time in as many games, the B’s went into the third period with a 1-0 deficit. And for the second straight game, they evened it up on the power play.

This time the equalizer came on a 5-on-3 at 6:20, a one-timer from David Pastrnak that finally beat Nedeljkovic, a blast beating the Wings’ netminder off a feed from Hall to tie it at 1-1.

But with a delayed call coming up on Mike Reilly, the Wings took the lead again with 8:27 left in the third period. Reilly thought he was slew-footed by Michael Rasmussen and got up angry, cross-checking Rasmussen and earning the penalty. Detroit stayed on the attack and, with the extra skater on the ice, Staal — one of the Wings in the box for Pastrnak’s goal — was able to skate in for a big rebound and score over a sprawling Linus Ullmark to make 2-1.

It was only a one-goal deficit but, considering what it took for the B’s to score their goal, it seemed insurmountable. As it turned out, it was.

After a scoreless first period, the B’s appeared to be taking control of the game early in the second period when a neutral zone mishap led to a 1-0 lead for Detroit at 5:03. Charlie Coyle tried to make a pass through the middle of the ice but his attempt went off Filip Zadina’s skate and right to Pius Suter, who had just changed onto the ice. Suter gave it right back to Zadina, who was able to gain a step on Coyle and Derek Forbort, cut across the top of the crease and beat Ullmark with a backhander.

With a few more grumbles from the crowd than usual, the B’s went back to work, spending much more time in the offensive zone than in their own, but with little success, thanks to good initial stops by Nedeljkovic and fairly decent coverage by the Detroit skaters. The B’s needed to do a better job of forcing the issue in the slot and crease areas to get to loose pucks.

And though they finally did get on the board on the two-man advantage, they never did solve that issue. In the end, the B’s could tip their caps to Nedeljkovic, but they knew they didn’t test him enough.

Hall offered this regarding the Red Wings’ goaltender to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Ty Anderson:

“Kudos to their goalie. That’s a good night for him, but he saw a lot,” Taylor Hall said after the loss. “They’ve committed to a defensive game where they box out, they let their goalie see shots, and we didn’t generate second chances and screens. That’s what you have to do. Especially when maybe you’re down a skilled guy. Pucks haven’t gone in this year for us really at all, so you have to work for it and think lucky, put yourself in good spots and eventually things will go in.”

Nedeljkovic certainly outplayed Ullmark in this contest beyond the Bruins’ inability to utilize dirt to their advantage, with a 41-of-42 line in the Detroit crease compared to Ullmark’s 14-save loss.

“Unfortunately today, I needed to make two saves extra and I didn’t do that,” Ullmark said.

Among Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty’s observations:

GOLD STAR: Alex Nedeljkovic was stellar between the pipes for the Red Wings even if the Bruins didn’t truly make him work for too many of the 41 saves. Still, he had a nice stop on a David Pastrnak net drive where he knifed in behind the defense for a point-blank chance and had to help kill off a Bruins PP after they’d already scored on the 5-on-3 advantage to tie it up. Through it all the Red Wings goaltender didn’t blink or let up in any soft ones while waiting for the dam to break in the third period once the Bruins took a retaliation penalty that ended up losing them the game. The win improves Nedeljkovic to 8-3-3 on the season as he’s truly become a goaltender the Red Wings can rely on after uncertain play between the pipes for Detroit over the last few seasons.

BLACK EYE: Charlie Coyle had a bad giveaway in front of the Detroit bench that led to the Red Wings opening goal of the game as they were changing players and ended up with four giveaways for the entire game. Coyle lost 8-of-12 faceoffs and finished a minus-1 while part of the perimeter crew for the Boston Bruins that wasn’t really getting anything going close to the net. Perhaps it was the adjustment of playing without Taylor Hall on his left side after he was bumped up to the top line, but Coyle had one of his worst games of the season on Tuesday night.

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

”I thought we played very good defensively,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said of his netminder. ”We gave up shots, but we didn’t give up a whole bunch of chances. When we did, he did a good job.”

David Pastrnak scored for Boston, and Linus Ullmark stopped 16 shots. The Bruins had won five of their last seven games.

Boston coach Bruce Cassidy missed the contest after being placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol earlier Tuesday.

”We made it a little easy on the goaltender, at times, not getting in front of him enough,” Boston’s interim coach Joe Sacco said. ”We could have done a better job of providing a screen, taking his sight lines away. Better than what we did, certainly make it a little harder on him.”

With an extra Detroit skater on for a delayed penalty, Staal charged in from the right circle and banged in a rebound from just outside the crease.

”I think it was a win that wasn’t the prettiest,” Detroit’s center Dylan Larkin said. ”We defended well. (Nedeljkovic) played great. We didn’t get much offensively.”’s Patrick Donnelly reiterated the coaches’ points

“[Nedeljkovic] played well. I will say we played very well defensively,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We gave up shots, but we didn’t give up a whole bunch of chances. When we did, he did a good job. … I thought we took away the real Grade A chances. I think for me, this would be more of a team defense success than just one player.”

David Pastrnak scored, and Linus Ullmark made 14 saves for Boston (11-8-0).

“I thought it was a good effort by our guys in the offensive zone tonight,” Sacco said. “We didn’t pass up a lot of shots. I think we made it a little bit easy on [Nedeljkovic] at times by not getting in front of him enough. … I thought we had some good quality chances. … Unfortunately we weren’t able to finish off some of those chances.”

Staal scored his first of the season at 11:33 during a delayed penalty to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead. Vladislav Namestnikov‘s wrist shot from the top of the left face-off circle deflected off Bruins defenseman Mike Reilly in front of the crease, and Staal put in the rebound.

“[Staal] is a rock. He’s a guy we lean on for consistency,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “He’s a great locker-room guy. I know the guys have a ton of respect for him and the way he plays the game. It’s great to see him get one. [It was] a huge goal for our hockey team.”

The Red Wings understood that their win was…unconventional, as they told’s Jonathan Mills

“Offensively, we didn’t get many looks on the power play in the third period there. There was a lot of sitting around and a lot of killing and you know, we did it,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “We did the job. We got the two points, and it wasn’t pretty, but I think it was the kind of the win we needed.”

“I thought we had opportunities to create more chances. We had rushes where I think could have resulted in real chances to score that we didn’t quite execute clean enough with the puck,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said.

“But from a mindset, from a defensive standpoint, with the exception of a little bit in the second period when we left the puck in our zone when we should have gotten it out, I thought we did a much better job of playing good defensively and managing the puck, getting it out of our line, getting it into their line, of overall being pretty disciplined.”

And both Larkin and Blashill continued while speaking with the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:

“We played good defensively and we gave up shots, but we didn’t give up a whole lot of chances,” Blashill said. “When we did, he (Nedeljkovic) did a good job and that’s the type of game that can really help goalies push their save percentages high because it’s a decent amount of shots but decent amount from the outside.

“For me, this would be more of a team defense success than just one player. Certainly Alex did a good job and against St. Louis he stole us a game, but that wasn’t the case (Tuesday). We played real good defensively, and it allows you to go on the road and quell momentum like we’ve talked about.”

Boston had won 11 of the previous 12 games between the teams at TD Garden, so this was a notable victory.

“It’s a tough building to play in, it’s a momentum building,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “When you take penalties and they go on the power play, they move the puck around well and it’s hard, but we did a great job of staying disciplined early and we played a great road game and got great goaltending.”

The Wings had gone 1-6-1 in their last eight road games, including going winless in the last four. Finding some success on the road, and beginning to match their home proficiency, was a main topic of conversation the past few days.

“It wasn’t the prettiest win but a win our team needed to build confidence that even when we don’t have our best, we can grind out a great defensive effort and goalie will be there for us,” Larkin said.

The Red Wings weren’t apologizing for taking advantage of the Marchand-less Bruins, either:

“They’re missing a hell of a player, he’s on a lot of nights,” Blashill said. “But with that said, I don’t want to take anything away from our own players. We did a real good job. We’d like a little more offensive pressure, like a few more chances, we had opportunities to create more chances, we had rushes that could have resulted in real chances but we didn’t quite execute clean enough with the puck. But from a mindset from a defensive standpoint, we did a much better job of playing good defensively and managing the puck.”

Blashill gave Filip Zadina a thumbs-up as well, as Detroit Hockey Now’s Bob Duff noted

Opening the scoring for Detroit, Filip Zadina netted his second goal in 13 games and first in five contests. In staying with theme of the victory, the creation of his opportunity came from sound defensive play.

Playing on the defensive side of the puck, Zadina ended up forcing a netural-zone turnover from Bruins forward Charlie Coyle. He took the puck to the net and scored.

“I thought he played hard,” Blashill said. “That’s the bottom line. For him to be a successful player in this league he’s gotta play extremely hard. He’s gotta be hard on the puck, forecheck hard, win puck battles and I think he’s done a pretty good job of that the last two games.”

And we’ll conclude with this:

Good teams are able to successfully close out these types of low-scoring, tight road contests. Blashill allowed that there was a time when he didn’t feel his team would’ve displayed the backbone and fortitude to close out this style of victory. And that time wasn’t all that long ago.

“I would even say a week ago I don’t think we played as mature as we did tonight, to be honest with you,” Blashill said. 

The Bruins lead the NHL with 36.8 shots on goal per game but the Red Wings set a tone by limiting Boston to eight first-period shots.

“From a mindset, from a defensive standpoint, with the exception of a little bit in the second period when we left the puck in our zone when we should’ve got it out, I thought we did a much better job of playing good defensively, of managing the puck at our line, of getting it in at their line and overall being pretty disciplined,” Blashill said.


Highlights: Sportsnet posted a 8:17 highlight clip: posted a 9:12 highlight clip:

Post-game: The Bruins posted a 4:22 clip of assistant coach Joe Sacco, forward Taylor Hall and goaltender Linus Ullmark speaking with the media:

Alex Nedeljkovic spoke with Bally Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson post-game:

Bally Sports Detroit also posted a very short clip of Dylan Larkin’s post-game remarks:

The Free Press’s Helene St. James posted a clip of coach Blashill and Larkin’s post-game commentary regarding the Oxford, MI school shooting:

The Red Wings posted a 3:37 combined comment clip…

And WXYZ’s Brad Galli posted both pressers in full:

Photos: The Free Press posted an 11-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 9-image gallery; posted a 58-image gallery.

Statistics: Here are the Game Summary and Event Summary:

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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.