The Detroit Red Wings advanced to 14-13-and-3, snapping a 3-game losing streak thanks to a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
The Red Wings got goals from Dylan Larkin and Michael Rasmussen, a fine 33-save performance from Alex Nedeljkovic, and the Wings played relatively well over the course of the game’s first 50-or-so minutes, receiving a necessary bail-out from “Ned” as the game wound down and Detroit’s energy seemed to waiver a bit.
Overall, it wasn’t a perfect game by any means, but the Red Wings got the lead, built upon it, and held it, and they weren’t able to do any of those things in their 3 previous games.
Now we wait and see as to whether the Carolina Hurricanes will be able to cobble together a roster for Thursday’s scheduled game in Raleigh.
Anyway, regarding Tuesday night’s game, our friends from Long Island felt that they waited too long to get started, and came on too late, as NewYorkIslanders.com’s Sasha Kandrach noted:
“There were just too many lapses on our own end that gave them some opportunities to keep momentum,” Lee said. “Especially in the second period we got hemmed in a little bit too much and it took the flow away from our game. We ended up chasing for too much of the game tonight. The third period was a lot better, but we need to find a way to be like that all 60.”
Down 2-0 with just under three minutes to go in the third period – where the Islanders outshot the Red Wings 15-7 – the Islanders pulled Sorokin in exchange for the extra attacker. As they worked the zone, Dobson launched a shot from the point where Lee redirected the puck from his office, in the goal mouth, and robbed Nedeljkovic of the shutout at 17:27.
While the Islanders were saved by a couple of Detroit misses on their open net, Jean-Gabriel Pageau nearly sent the game into overtime after being sprung in the slot, but his buzzer-beater shot was smothered by Nedeljkovic.
Despite showing a resilient effort, it was too little too late for the Islanders, who felt they fell short of a full-60 minute effort. They cost themselves the result following a slump in the second period, where they were outshot 18-9 and in the third period, as Detroit capitalized on a turnover.
Following a wide-open scoreless first period, where both teams came out of the gate buzzing and the Islanders were outshot 14-10, the Islanders came out with a short-lived strong start to the second period. That effort lapsed and they eventually found themselves down a goal and outshot 32-19 after two periods of play and trailing 1-0 heading into the third period.
The Red Wings took advantage of their second of three total power plays on the night as Kyle Palmieri went to the box at 9:38 for slashing. Larkin, Detroit’s captain and leading goal scorer, drew the first strike for his team as he wired a long-range shot off Sorokin’s blocker to give Detroit its 1-0 lead at 10:32.
“We started losing too many battles in our own end and it caused too much zone time,” Dobson said. “We were running around a bit and once we fixed our battle level in the third, it was a lot better and we started playing in their end. We have to bring that same battle level that we played with in the third for a full 60.”
In the third period, the Islanders ushered a more assertive effort as their offense picked up and they got shots on net and traffic in front of Nedeljkovic, but they couldn’t solve the Red Wings’ netminder. On an offensive zone turnover, the Red Wings successfully countered en route to their second goal of the game at 12:55. With a 2-on-1 rush charging down the ice, Rasmussen forewent the pass and instead, wired a wrist shot past Sorokin’s far side to double Detroit’s lead 2-0.
That’s the long version of events. The Islanders’ shorter take comes from Newsday’s Andrew Gross, who framed the Islanders’ loss as one which occurred in no small part due to Mathew Barzal’s absence due to COVID protocols:
“We were losing too many battles in our own end,” defenseman Noah Dobson said. “That’s what caused too much zone time. We were running around a bit. Once we fixed our battle level in the third, it was a lot better.”
The last-place Islanders (7-12-5) did make it interesting at the end as they outshot the Red Wings (14-12-3) by 15-7 in the final 20 minutes.
“Just too many lapses in our own end that gave them some opportunities to keep momentum, especially in that second period,” said captain Anders Lee, who cut the lead in half at 17:27 of the third period by deflecting in Dobson’s shot with goalie Ilya Sorokin (37 saves) off for an extra skater.
Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic (33 saves) then gloved Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s hard shot milliseconds after the final buzzer sounded.
In the end, it was another frustrating loss for a team that hasn’t won consecutive games since Nov. 4-6 but was coming off an encouraging, 4-2, win over the Devils at UBS Arena on Saturday night.
“Yeah, especially to lose the game like that, you saw how we had success in third,” said Brock Nelson, who was denied at the crease by Nedeljkovic’s lunging save at 19:37 of the second period off a three-on-one-rush led by Anthony Beauvillier. “We didn’t do it early enough to give us a better chance and put us in a better spot.”
NHL.com’s Dave Hogg spoke with both coaches regarding the game’s outcome, as well as the processes which led to said outcome…
“We had played a great second period and then we made one mistake right at the end,” Blashill said. “Luckily, Alex made the save, because it would have been really tough to give one up in the last few seconds.”
Detroit outshot New York 18-9 in the second.
“I thought the first period was pretty even and we were really good for the first eight minutes of the second,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “After that, we failed on a couple exits and had some long shifts back-to-back, so it kind of snowballed on us.”
Rasmussen made it 2-0 at 12:55 of the third period on a 2-on-1 break.
“We could have easily been up by more than one goal after the second period,” Blashill said. “At that point, you don’t want to get frustrated, start forcing things and make a mistake. I think we probably sat back a little too much, but we took advantage of a chance to get that second goal.”
And the Associated Press’s recap will serve as our pivot point between the Islanders and Red Wings’ perspectives:
”They had a lot of shots, but our guys were keeping everything to the outside, so it wasn’t as hard as it looked,” Nedeljkovic said.
Dylan Larkin got his team-high 11th goal and Michael Rasmussen also scored for the Red Wings.
Anders Lee scored and Sorokin made 37 saves for the Islanders, who had won two of three following an 11-game losing streak.
After a scoreless first period, Larkin broke the deadlock at 10:32 of the second. He scored a power-play goal with a shot from the point that deflected off Sorokin’s right arm. Larkin has scored two more goals than he had in 44 games last season.
”I think Larks had a disappointing year and he’s said that as well,” Blashill said. ”I think the long break might have helped him get away from hockey for a while and he’s been great this season.”
Nedeljkovic made a diving stop against Brock Nelson on a 3-on-1 break for New York in the closing seconds of the period.
Rasmussen made it 2-0 on a 2-on-1 rush with 7:05 remaining when he whistled a shot past Sorokin for his third goal of the season. Lee scored with 2:33 left by deflecting in Noah Dobson’s shot.
”Our third period was really good, other than we gave up that 2-on-1,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. ”We tried to force a play that really wasn’t there. It ended up a 2-on-1. And then we got one and tried to get it tied up and we almost did.”
“Almost” doesn’t count, thankfully…Because Nedeljkovic was honest about the Wings’ collective state of mind going into the game having lost 3 in a row, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James noted:
The Wings (14-12-3) improved to 10-3-2 at home and nipped a three-game losing skid.
“Losing three games in a row, it sets you back immensely,” Nedeljkovic said. “To come back and get this win was huge. We had a loud crowd tonight, it was awesome to play in front of. That’s what you want, that energy, that excitement. It makes it way better to play when you have them behind you.”
Michael Rasmussen scored his third goal of the season with seven minutes to go in the third period. The Islanders pulled their goalie with three minutes to go, and Anders Lee scored 33 seconds later.
Dylan Larkin scored his 11th goal of the season when he fired a shot from the high slot that threaded through traffic, hit goalie Ilya Sorokin, and sank into the corner of the net.
The relief on the Wings’ faces was clear: It had taken half the game, but they finally had a lead. With that done, they grabbed momentum and buzzed around so much in New York’s zone that the Islanders called a timeout. Larkin drew a penalty with three minutes to go in the second period when Jean-Gabriel Pageau high-sticked him, but Sorokin made consecutive saves on Lucas Raymond, Tyler Bertuzzi and Moritz Seider.
Nedeljkovic came up with a big save on Anthony Beauvillier in the final minute of the period to protect the one-goal lead, and the Wings stuck to what worked even as the third period teetered in the balance.
“That’s part of the learning process of learning how to win,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We’d played a good game but you’re only up 1-0 and you can’t start changing how you’re playing and taking risks and giving them an easy goal. That’s the last thing you can do. You have to find a way to keep the pressure on. We were creating chances playing the right way. It’s a continual lesson we hope to learn to grow our team. We are going to be in lots of close games and you have to learn how to close those out.”
Coach Blashill continued while speaking with the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
“We played a real good game, a real good hockey game,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “They played hard and we played hard and it was a good hockey game. We played much better defensively than we did on the road, kind of like we did before we left LCA, we were much better in the defensive zone and offensively we used our speed to get on their defense.”
Dylan Larkin scored a power-play goal in the second period, Michael Rasmussen added one in the third period, and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 33 shots including a glove save on Jean-Gabriel Pageau as time expired, as the Wings (14-12-3) continued their dominance at LCA.
The Pageau shot likely wouldn’t have counted, but it was a dramatic way to end the game and left nothing to chance.
“We had a loud crowd tonight and it was awesome to play in front of and it was a little tough to hear, but if that buzzer did go off or not before he shot it, that’s what you want, you want that energy and excitement they bring,” Nedeljkovic said.
Blashill didn’t think the goal would’ve counted but “it was a heck of a glove save.”
Nedeljkovic played much better than in his previous two games, but the team defense was significantly better than in those two losses, as well.
“It’s usually a combination of both,” Blashill said. “For a goalie to play real good, you can’t give up big time Grade A chances after Grade A chances. We did a pretty good job in large parts of the game of giving up chances, but chances that were second tier, or shots from outside. When we gave up a chance, he did an excellent job. He was great and our team defense was real good.”
Among Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen’s “Five Takeaways“…
Rookie defenseman Moritz Seider picked up his 20th point (three goals, 17 assists) in his 29th game. He also had five shots on goal and two blocked shots.
“I think he’s got really good offensive swagger, confidence, ” Blashill said. “All of that has allowed him to attack the game. He’s not at all afraid of the moment. He wants the moment. That’s what good players do.”
And, Blashill said, while they are helping Seider improve “he’s helping us win.”
And a trio of quotes from DetroitRedWings.com’s Jonathan Mills will take us out:
Alex Nedeljkovic on beating the Isles: “Obviously, it’s huge. Losing three games in a row there, it sets you back immensely. We came off a heater there, winning five in a row, then not too great on the road. To come back and get this win tonight was huge. They’re in a division and they’re fighting for points too. Playing for their lives right now. So, to be able to get two points in regulation is awesome.”
Nedeljkovic on his focus and playing in front of the home crowd: “You don’t want to leave anything up to chance. Obviously, we had a loud crowd tonight. It was awesome to play in front of and a little tough to hear if that buzzer did go off or not. But that’s what you want. That energy, that excitement that they had, and they bring. It makes it way better to play.”
Jeff Blashill on if the Red Wings executed their game plan: “I thought tonight, we played a really good game, really good hockey. I thought they played hard. I thought we played hard. I thought it was a really good hockey game, to be honest with you. I thought we played much, much better defensively than we did on the road, back to what we were doing before we left LCA. I thought we were much better in our D-zone.”
Highlights: Sportsnet posted an 8:15 highlight clip:
NHL.com posted a 9:14 highlight clip:
Post-game: The Islanders double up their post-game appearances, and they do so via Twitter, so:
Here are Anders Lee and Brock Nelson…
Noah Dobson and Casey Cizikas…
And coach Barry Trotz, alone:
Dylan Larkin gave a post-game interview to Bally Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson:
I don’t know why, but Bally Sports Detroit posted a very short clip of Nedeljkovic’s remarks…
And a very short clip of coach Jeff Blashill’s remarks:
More Mickey Redmond is better for your health:
WXYZ’s Brad Galli posted Nedeljkovic’s 7:53 post-game presser…
And Galli posted coach Blashill’s full 9:55 post-game presser:
The Red Wings distilled Nedeljkovic and Blashill’s remarks into 4:25:
Photos: The Free Press posted a 15-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted an 11-image gallery;
NHL.com posted a 27-image gallery.