GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Red Wings have been out-shot in six straight.
It’s kind of a misleading statistic, considering Detroit won four of those six games.
The Wings wrap up a six-game road trip – their longest of the season – tonight against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena.
In the past six games, Detroit’s skaters are averaging 25.8 shots for, while at the other end of the ice they are allowing an average of 32 shots against.
It’s a trend that the Wings’ players would like to change.
“I think we have to spend some more time in the offensive zone,” said Justin Abdelkader, who has 11 shots in the past six games. “We got caught the last handful of games of kind of playing up-and-down hockey, not spending quality time in the offensive zone. We got to do a better job cycling, obviously shooting pucks. The teams we’ve played have done a good job blocking shots. Just got to find ways to get pucks through and on net.”
The Wings average 28.4 shots per game, which ranks No. 24 in the league. Still, they have posted a 13-8-0 record when they’ve been out-shot this season.
Coach Jeff Blashill agreed with Abdelkader’s assertion that more o-zone time is necessary to create more shots and scoring chances.
“More o-zone time, that’s number one thing,” Blashill said. “We haven’t had many stretches of real o-zone time like we did from the 15-games ago mark to the 10-game we had some real o-zone time. … We have to spend more time in the other team’s zone. If you think back … we haven’t had those real long stretches and when you do that you tend to accumulate more shots.”
The Wings had one other stretch this season when they were out-shot in six straight games. That occurred in late October/early November. But like this current stretch, the Wings were 4-2-0 then as well.
Zone time has been a concern and the Red Wings seemed to do little to address that in the first period, as the Coyotes controlled much of the pace. Arizona had a 12-5 edge in shots on goal in the period.
The Coyotes had a good scoring chance taken away by Brendan Smith who started a rush with a terrific breakout pass to Pavel Datsyuk in the neutral zone. Datsyuk coasted through the middle of the ice to the top of the slot where he tried to use Connor Murphy as a screen. But the Coyotes’ defenseman dropped to a knee and blocked Datsyuk’s shot in the low slot in front of rookie goaltender Louis Domingue.
With roughly nine minutes left in the first period, Datsyuk had another good scoring chance created by a neutral-zone turnover. With one move to side step a defender at the blue line, Datsyuk was in with Nicklas Grossman back. The Russian’s shot got through this time, but Domingue made a nice stand-up save.
Petr Mrazek, who was playing in his 29th game of the season – equally his total from last season – had to make several heady saves in the opening frame.
He made two big saves on Mikkel Boedker from close range. Boedker set up a third chance – this one by Tobias Rieder – with less than six-minutes to go. Boedker’s pass from the corner changed direction off of Mrazek’s right leg pad and into the high slot to Rieder who fired a one-time that the Wings’ goalie blocked and covered up for a whistle.
The Wings had another solid scoring chance when Dylan Larkin retrieved the luck along the half wall to the right of Domingue before spotting Riley Sheahan in the middle of the faceoff circle. Domingue had to be quick to react as Sheahan waste no time in pulling the trigger on a one-timer.
DETROIT 0, ARIZONA 0
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Jurco (high-sticking) 18:36.
SHOTS: Detroit 5, Arizona 12.
The Red Wings started the period by having to kill off 36 seconds of Tomas Jurco’s high-sticking penalty. They managed to kill it off, but the Coyotes took the lead anyway when Oliver Ekman-Larsson collected his 13th goal of the season.
In a scramble in front of the Wings’ crease, Brad Richardson sent a puck into traffic. The shot pinballed off a few legs then bounced to Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who cranked a shot that beat Mrazek to his stick side.
The Wings had a nice opportunity to get an equalizing goal. But Brad Richards’s shot, which was created by a pretty give and go with Tomas Tatar t the blue line, was smothered by Domingue.
The Coyotes built a two-goal lead when Shane Doan scored on a deflection with 1:10 left in the period. The power-play goal was his team-leading 16th of the season.
ARIZONA 2, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. ARI, Ekman-Larsson (Martinook, Richardson) 4:51; 2. ARI, Doan PPG (Rieder, Boedker) 18:50.
PENALTIES: 1. ARI, Vermette (roughing) 8:46; 2. DET, Larkin (interference)10:25; 3. ARI, Rieder (embellishment) 10:25; 4. DET, Abdelkader (tripping) 14:09.
SHOTS: Detroit 11 (16), Arizona 8 (20).
Never out of any game, the Red Wings fought back in the third with power-play goals by Datsyuk and Gustav Nyquist. Though the second goal was originally credited to Henrik Zetterberg.
The Red Wings finally got on the board when Datsyuk sniped a shot from the top of the slot on the team’s third power-play chance of the night. Domingue never had a chance as he was screened by Justin Abdelkader and Coyotes defenseman Klas Dahlbeck.
Just 1:15 later, the Wings returned to the power play and got the equalizing tally when Gustav Nyquist snapped his 10-game scoring drought. Nyquist followed up his initial shot by diving toward the net and poking the puck over the paddle of Doningue’s out-reached stick.
The Coyotes challenged the goal, saying that Domingue was interfered with my Abdelkader who crashed the crease from the opposite side of Nyquist. The situation room in Toronto reviewed the scoring play but the goal was upheld.
DETROIT 2, ARIZONA 2
SCORING: 1, DET, Datsyuk PPG (Green, Nyquist) 11:50; 2. DET, Nyquist (Datsyuk, Green) 14:20.
PENALTIES: 1, ARI, Vermette (hooking) 10:51; 2. ARI, Duclair (hooking) 13:05.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (24), Arizona 7 (27).
The pace was incredible and Larkin made things happen, leading to Danny DeKeyser’s shot that went top shelf over Domingue at 2:08.
Several players had chances to end this game early.
Abdelkader hit the post and then on the other end of the ice, Rieder hit the post behind Mrazek with a backhand shot. Moments later, Max Domi set up Martin Hanzal who fired a shot from in close that smacked Mrazek in the winged wheel.
But then came Larkin who entered the offensive zone with speed to burn. He later said that he tought about getting a backhand shot off, but made a pass instead, finding DeKeyser in the left circle, and the Wings’ defenseman didn’t miss on his opportunity correcting on his first game-winner of the season..
The Wings finish their six-game road trip with a 5-1-0 record. They head back to Detroit where they will face the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday night at 7:30 p.m.
DETROIT 3, ARIZONA 2
SCORING: 1. DET, DeKeyser (Larkin, Datsyuk) 2:08.
SHOTS: Detroit 1 (25), Arizona 2 (29).