ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Red Wings have been on the right side of more one-goal games than any NHL team this season.
Detroit has participated in 26 games decided by one goal, and leads the league with 16 one-goal wins. Minnesota, Carolina and Vancouver have also played in 26 one-goal games, but only the Wild (12 wins) comes close to the success Detroit (16-3-7) has had.
Coach Jeff Blashill thinks it’s been his team’s ability to build leads and hang on late in what has grown to become a tight league with very little time in space every night.
“I think when you’ve had the lead it’s a better chance by percentages that you’re gonna come out on top,” Blashill said Sunday afternoon. “We’ve found a way in a lot of them, I mean, it’s the way the game’s gone. I think we’ve had some opportunities to maybe make some of those two- and three-goal leads. We haven’t, so as a result (they) have been one goal (outcomes).
“We’re comfortable in that because we’ve been in that spot so much. For me it doesn’t matter, we’ve got to score one more than they score at the end of the night, and we’ve got to find a way to win.”
Winning is something the Red Wings haven’t done in nearly three years against Anaheim. Since posting consecutive wins on back-to-back nights in Anaheim during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the Wings are 0-3-1 against the Ducks.
The Wings are seeking their first four-game winning streak in regulation since late in the 2013-14 season. Despite being out-shot and out-chanced in four straight games, the Wings have managed to string together three straight to start their current six-game road trip with wins at Buffalo, New Jersey and San Jose.
“We don’t necessarily trust the shooting chart and I don’t know if that always tells the story,” Blashill said. “We keep our own chances. The other night for example in San Jose we actually came out of top on chances. So I think, again, every game is tight, it’s real close. We’ve got to find a way to create as many positive chances and limit the other team’s chances the best that we can.”
WING TO WATCH:
Defense - DET
Goals: 3 | Assists: 7 | Pts: 10
Shots: 36 | +/-: 5
Since returning from a five-game absence with an illness in late November, Brendan Smith
has benefited from the coaches’ new confidence in the defenseman’s 200-foot game.
Considered an offensive defenseman, Smith has made a commitment to play a complete game at both ends of the ice.
“I think he’s managed the game the best he has,” Blashill said. “I think his decision making has been the best it’s been on a consistent level. He’s taken what’s given, he’s not trying to force stuff that’s not there. I think when you’re a talented person like him you have a tendency at times to force things. He’s learned, I think, over the last month and a half, two months, to really taken what’s given. It’s a big part of winning hockey at this level.”
In 33 games, Smith has 10 points. Two years ago, he established a single-season career high with 19 points in 71 games.
The Red Wings have done extremely well when scoring first this season. They are 19-4-4 when striking first. But Sunday, they scored fast … real fast.
Tomas Tatar’s 13 goal of the season just 16 second into the game was the fastest goal to start a contest this season. Justin Abdelkader’s goal at 1:15 on opening night had been the fastest until Sunday at Honda Center.
Tatar was credited with an unassisted goal; however, Pavel Datsyuk made a play to get the puck to Tatar at the bottom of the right circle to the left of Ducks goalie John Gibson. It appeared that Tatar tried to make a pass out in front of the crease, but the puck ricocheted off the Hampus Lindholm’s stick blade and between Gibson’s legs.
Datsyuk should have received an assist, but the way it’s been explained in the press box is because Lindholm accidently scored on his own net while making a stabbing motion with his stick, the assist is removed. Plus, Tatar isn’t given a shot on goal.
The Red Wings had two chances to go up two goals when Detroit-area native Ryan Kesler and Sami Vatanen earned high-sticking and tripping penalties, respectively, about four-minutes apart.
Kesler went to the penalty box for using his stick to whack Henrik Zetterberg in the throat behind the Ducks’ net at 3:28 of the period. Detroit managed to get two shots on net during their two-minute chance, but Gibson turned both aside.
Vatanen was called for tripping Tatar. Detroit got another shot on goal on the power play, but the Ducks definitely had the better scoring chance.
The Ducks’ penalty kill has now allowed a goal in 28 straight chances, dating back to a 4-2 win over Philadelphia on Dec. 27.
The Ducks’ PK had a glorious chance to pull even on the scoreboard when Kevin Bieksa intercepted a pass before sending a stretch pass, splitting Brad Richards and Tatar, and sending Nate Thompson in a lone on Petr Mrazek. The Ducks center beat the Wings goalie high over his left catching glove, but the puck glanced off the crossbar and into the messing behind the net.
Corey Perry eventually pulled the Ducks even with his team-leading 16th goal of the season. The Peterborough, Ontario, native fought off Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser to get a backhand off that beat Mrazek over his right shoulder. It was just the Ducks second shot of the period.
At one point the Wings had a 6-1 edge in shots. But the Ducks up their pressure in the final half of the period with six unanswered shots on Mrazek.
DETROIT 1, ANAHEIM 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Tatar (unassisted) 0:16; 2. ANA, Perry (Getzlaf, Rakell) 13:35.
PENALTIES: 1. ANA, Kesler (high-sticking) 3:28; 2. ANA, Vatanen (tripping) 7:09; 3. DET, Smith (hooking) 17:05.
SHOTS: Detroit 6, Anaheim 7.
Wave after wave, the Ducks buzzed the Wings’ zone to start the middle frame. Fortunately for the Red Wings, Mrazek, who’s been sharp all game, got some help from a goal post.
Perry was just one of three Ducks who had clear shooting lanes on the Wings’ net. Perry’s shot from the left circle beat Mrazek, but the puck rocketed off the near post.
The Ducks picked up their first power play chance of the night when Glendening was called on a questionable tripping call on Getzlaf as he rushed the puck toward the Wings’ blue line.
Mrazek had to be sharp again later in the period on Getzlaf. With about three minutes left in the period, the Ducks captain cruised into the zone and unleashed a wicked wrist shot from the high slot that Mazrek had to make a kick save on with his right leg pad.
The Red Wings’ best chance in the period occurred when Zetterberg send Nyquist into the zone on a nice pass through the neutral zone. Gibson was forced to make a pad save, but the rebound went out in front to Abdelkader, who was then tripped by Josh Manson. The Ducks’ defenseman was sent to the box with 1:03 left in the period.
DETROIT 1, ANAHEIM 1
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Glendening (tripping) 11:54; 2. ANA, Manson (holding) 18:57.
SHOTS: Detroit 9 (15), Anaheim 11 (18).
The Red Wings began the period with 57 seconds of a power play remaining as Manson finished serving his two-minute minor. However, nothing in way of a scoring chance developed for the Wings.
Tatar had a chance to regain the lead for the Red Wings when he made a great play, swiping the puck away from Vatanen at the Wings’ blue line. From there, the Wings’ forward outraced the 24-year-old defenseman through the neutral zone to get an 18-foot shot off on Gibson, who made the stop with his body.
At one point in the period, Riley Sheahan ended up in Ducks’ bench as he tried to play a stretch pass from Alexey Marchenko. The Wings’ third-line center went head-first over the board when he was drilled in the back by Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner.
The Wings did get the lead back when roommates Sheahan and Dylan Larkin combined on a pretty goal. The rookie spoted Sheahan slicing through the slot, made a centering pass and Sheahan, fighting off a check, shoveled a shot in behind Gibson.
Exactly 50 percent of the Red Wings’ games last season were decided by one goal. Already this season, 27 games – or 64.3 percent – have been won or lost by one goal.
DETROIT 2, ANAHEIM 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Sheahan (Larkin) 16:16.
SHOTS: Detroit 11 (25), Anaheim 13 (31).