The Detroit Red Wings (32-38-10) beat the Pittsburgh Penguins (43-26-11) in a fun one tonight. Jimmy Howard started for Detroit, staring down Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. Danny DeKeyser missed this one due to a lower-body injury sustained against Boston, so Joe Hicketts drew into the lineup. Apart from that, the lineup featured the same players as Sunday’s game.
The Pens had the early edge in shots, but the Wings got the first powerplay about halfway through the period. Andreas Athanasiou centred it for Tyler Bertuzzi, who got absolutely robbed by Murray…right? Murray made an absurd desperation glove save on the goal line, but upon further review, the puck crossed the line. The near save-of-the-year candidate goes up in smoke, and it’s 1-0 Wings.
After the goal, the teams traded a few chances, but Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel faced Nicklas Kronwall on a two-on-one with about twenty seconds to go. Sid found Kessel, who sniped to tie the game 1-1. Can’t blame Kronwall alone there, as Filip Hronek made a tough pinch and was out of position as Crosby received the leading pass. Rough ending to the frame for Detroit.
Detroit tilted the ice in their favour throughout the beginning of the first, and broke through just past the ten minute mark. Darren Helm fed Bertuzzi with a nifty backhand pass,and Bert roofed it to put the Wings up 2-1.
The goalies were otherwise stout throughout the period, though Pittsburgh nearly converted another late chance. Deep in the Detroit zone, Crosby made a pass through a sea of legs and found Jake Guentzel, who fired it right at Howard. Tough luck for Guentzel, as Howard never actually saw the shot. Wings returned to the locker room with a lead.
Howard really kept the Wings in it through the first ten minutes, as the Penguins were all over the Wings. Jimmy’s efforts paid off, as Larkin pulled off a great lob pass, dropping the puck in the opposing slot from his own zone. Anthony Mantha beat Marcus Pettersson to the puck, and went backhand to forehand to tuck it by Murray, 3-1 Wings.
Pittsburgh pulled Murray with two and a half to go, but Nick Bjugstad fanned on their best chance. Bertuzzi got to the free puck and passed it to Mantha, who scored from his own blueline. Wings take this one 4-1!
- Tyler Bertuzzi is the first Red Wing in history with four straight three point nights. He’s got 13 points in his last five games. Holy smokes.
- Speaking of hot streaks, Mantha has 7 goals and 14 points in the past six games. Larkin’s 3 point night gives him 11 in his past 6. The kids are alright.
- Meanwhile, Jeff Blashill trusted Hronek to be on the ice with Pittsburgh’s net empty. Love it. I’ll give some thoughts on Blashill’s extension in a second.
- Can’t forget Howie! James Russell Howard III made 38 saves on 39 shots tonight. All things considered, he’s had a strong season.
The 1959 Antarctic Treaty states that it’s illegal to hunt penguins, but since when had Detroit cared? Pittsburgh had a solid game, but you’d think they’d be playing with a bit more urgency given how Carolina is nipping at their heels in the standings. Regardless, the Wings were able to generate some great chances and capitalize on them thanks to their red-hot top line.
Blashill was signed to a two-year extension earlier today, proving some of last week’s rumours true. It seems like the organization has a lot of faith in him, which I suppose is good. Personally, I think they’re committing to him through the rebuild. I’m not opposed to it – last week I mentioned that despite a rough season Blashill has kept the team’s effort level high. He’s managing the young players well too. After the rebuild, however, I’m hesitant to put my trust in him.
Detroit heads to Pittsburgh Thursday for a rematch I’d bet the Penguins really want. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM.