The Red Wings pulled off the big win for a big man. Their powerful offense that most have been waiting to see dominated the third period to defeat the Washington Capitals 4-2 at Verizon Center on Wednesday. Justin Abdelkader scored two goals along with Pavel Datsyuk’s magical shot to end their short road trip with a win.
The Red Wings have a lot to play for on this night with the news of Gordie Howe, but their own game is in the spotlight of negativity. Detroit’s power play is at its lowest and seems to be a regular problem at the start of the season. The Red Wings have shot 2 of 26 and failed on their last twenty chances on the man advantage. Their offense is also on the slow side as they have only scored 2.25 goals a game which is not enough to win them. Their 4-2 loss to Philadelphia on Monday was a point where just eight games in, they sit in the middle of the pack when they are most known for being on top.
It was battle between both teams at the start of the first where they fought for puck possession and the game’s opening shot on goal. It was also a show of physical strength as Brendan Smith delivered a huge hit to Capitals left winger Jason Chimera where he returned with a disfigured nose. Detroit took a pair of shots but was denied by Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, and a bad call by officials.
A clean goal from Detroit seven minutes into the period was waved off due to goaltender interference. It was shown in the replay that no contact between Detroit’s Luke Glendening and Holtby took place. The mistake by the refs nearly made Detroit’s offense come to a halt giving the Capitals a chance to score first. Jimmy Howard was in net for the Red Wings and made a terrific ending to twenty minutes stopping eight shots while maintaining the stalemate.
The Capitals came out in the second taking their scoring chances on the Detroit net where they didn’t capitalize. The same could be said about the Red Wings as they were not moving their feet taking four shots through seven minutes. Patience paid off for Detroit as Gustav Nyquist took a pair of shots on the pad of Holtby before lifting the second high enough to land in the net. On bad time of shift change for Detroit’s PK unit, Joel Ward was alone near the neutral zone boards and found Evgeny Kuznetsov out front to score the tying goal and his first of the season.
It was the key point where the Capitals pushed their game to a new level and charged hard to score more. With a minute left to play, Troy Brouwer came off the bench unbeknownst of the Red Wings where he skated from the glove side of Howard to score on a snapshot giving his team the lead before the close of the period.
Detroit tied the game on a bad turnover where Capitals forward Andre Burakovski was trying to make a play to clear the puck and was stolen by Abdelkader who fired the puck to score five minutes into the third and make it 2-2. Abdelkader made it 3-2 where he countered on another Washington turnover to snap one by Holtby five minutes after his first. Detroit switched to a loose defense to hold off the Capitals from scoring before the game came to an end. With one minute left in the game, Datsyuk took his time before performing his magic trick. Taking his time to find the right time to shoot, Datsyuk made pass after pass before firing through traffic to score his second of the season and make it a 4-2 victory.
Washington captain Alexander Ovechkin has been off his mark for a second time as he tied a personal record with five games without a single point to his name. He took seven shots on Howard with no clean opportunity. “I just had to get out and get big try to make him make a perfect shot on me,” Howard said to NBC Sports Pierre McGuire after the game. His reward for performing under pressure was the win after stopping 25. It was their first win in the nation’s capital since 2005 and Detroit Coach Mike Babcock had a lot to be pleased with when it came to the team’s resilience late in the game.
“We didn’t think we were near good enough and they (Capitals) got a good hand on shots with the puck,” Babcock said to McGuire. “People don’t realize how big of a deal that is in our game. When it was looser before it didn’t matter, but now to get the puck going, and they got the puck going, and we were a day late for a long time so their coming at you with speed. I thought we did a good job putting Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg together, they kind of got playing and seemed to settle in there in the third period. Good win for our team tonight. We weren’t great, and we found a way to win.”