KANATA, Ontario – The Red Wings look to snap a four-game road losing streak tonight when they faceoff against their Atlantic Division rival Ottawa Senators.
Tonight is the fifth and final meeting in the clubs’ season series with the Red Wings posting a 3-1-0 record over the Senators.
Dylan Larkin, who fell ill earlier in the day and did not join the team in their morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre, will not play tonight. The Wings had hoped he might be able to go, but he still wasn’t feeling good and didn’t participate in the team’s pre-game warmups.
Larkin’s absence opens the way for Teemu Pulkkinen to draw into the lineup for the first time in the past eight games.
With Tampa Bay’s 4-2 win this afternoon at Pittsburgh, the Wings are desperate for two points as they begin the night in the top wild card spot with 67 points in the Eastern Conference. Detroit trails Tampa Bay and Boston by one point in the standings.
But coach Jeff Blashill said the team isn’t concentrating so much on the standings as they are about playing right.
“(Our) focus is making sure we play good hockey and that we’re giving ourselves the best chance to win every night,” he said. “You can play great and not win. We have a great opponent tonight, every night is a great opponent. That’s just how close the league is. But we got to concentrate and do the things it takes from a process standpoint to make sure we’re doing our best. Secondly, we judge ourselves on our own segments and where we’re at in the segments, both cumulatively and where we’re at in that segment. And third, I see the standings, I’m not blind to that. I just think you got to control what you control and that’s your own play.”
PLAYER TO WATCH: Riley Sheahan
rIGHT WING - DET
Goals: 7 | Assists: 6 | Pts: 13
Shots: 94 | +/-: -16
has the longest current point drought in the Red Wings’ lineup, going 15 straight games without a goal or assist. His last point was the game-winning goal late in the third period at Anaheim on Jan. 10.
Recently, Sheahan was moved from third-line center, where he had been most of the season, to fourth-line winger. He’ll start tonight’s game paired with center Luke Glendening and forward Darren Helm.
Blashill said he likes the identity of the trio – all three are natural centers.
“That’s what I was trying to create when I put that line together,” Blashill said. “We had played Tampa and I saw the line with (Valtteri) Filppula and thought they had a real identity and I wanted to make sure we had that as well down the stretch. I think Sheahan and Helm and Glendening have done a real good job. They’re all good defensively, but I think their best defense is when they can grind in the O-zone and they’re real good at it – Sheahan, especially, he can really do a good job on cutbacks and creating possession time and chances as well. I think he’s found a good niche and I think he’s playing pretty good hockey.”
in terms of minutes played they certainly have a big role on our team – but I like the identity of that line. That’s what I was trying to create when I put that line together. We had played Tampa and I saw the line with Filppula and thought they had a real identity and I wanted to make sure we had that as well down the stretch. I think Sheahan and Helm and Glendening have done a real good job. They’re all good defensively, but I think their best defense is when they can grind in the O-zone and they’re real good at it – Sheahan, especially, he can really do a good job on cutbacks and creating possession time and chances as well. I think he’s found a good niche and I think he’s playing pretty good hockey.”
It took more than four minutes before either team registered a shot on goal. But the first one was a doozy.
Senators defenseman Patrick Wiercioch fired a rocket from the blue line that struck Petr Mrazek in helmet. The play was stopped as the Red Wings’ goalie stayed down until trainer Piet Van Zant rushed on to the ice to check on him. Mrazek stayed in though.
Gustav Nyquist was called for slashing defenseman Dion Phaneuf near the Wings’ crease. While Nyquit was in the box Bobby Ryan came close to scoring what would have been one of the top highlight reel goals of the season.
The Sens’ forward backed his way toward the crease where put his stick between his legs and managed to get off a shot from in close. Fortunately, the puck hit Mrazek in the pads.
After that the period was pretty much uninspiring with not a lot of scoring chances for either team.
DETROIT 0, OTTAWA 0
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Nyquist (slashing), 4:33.
SHOTS: Detroit 9, Ottawa 6.
The period started with three on-ice officials instead of the traditional four man crew.
The league sent out the following post in an email:
Referee Tom Kowal is being evaluated by medical personnel therefore the Red Wings/Senators game will continue with one referee and two linesmen.
The game continued with referee Trevor Hanson and linesmen Matt MacPherson and Steve Barton.
The Wings capitalized on a giveaway deep in the Senators zone. Nyquist forced all-star defenseman Erik Karlsson into coughing up the puck into the slot where Andreas Athanasiou wound up and rocketed a shot into the back of the net.
The goal was Athansiou's second of his career and his first since he was recalled from AHL Grand Rapids on Feb. 5.
It took the Senators exactly one minute to get their own break when Brendan Smith snapped his stick while trying to make a cleaning pass from the Wings’ zone. Nick Paul was the recipient of Smith’s second broken stick of the game. It was the first career goal for the Sens’ rookie.
Smith has had bad luck with sticks while in Ottawa these last two days, breaking four of them, including two in Friday afternoon’s practice.
Karlsson’s tough night got worse late in the period when he redirected Brad Richards’ shot past goalie Craig Anderson, giving the Wings a 2-1 lead.
DETROIT 2, OTTAWA 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Athanasiou (unassisted), 10:46; 2. OTT, Smith (Pageau), 11:46; 3. DET, Richards (unassisted), 17:52.
PENALTIES: 1. OTT, Paul (slashing), 2:59; 2. DET, Glendening (holding), 12:08; 3. DET, Helm (roughing), 16:59; 4. OTT, Turris (roughing), 16:59.
SHOTS: Detroit 7 (16), Ottawa 10 (16).
Justin Abdelkader exchanged jabs at center ice with Chris Neil after the Sens’ enforcer hit Pavel Datsyuk. The pair appeared headed for a fight before cooler heads prevailed as both skated to their respective benches. The pleasantries continued as the two jawed at one another from the end of the benches with Gary Galley, the TSN analyst, caught in the middle of the barbs.
For Mrazek, this was a quality effort after giving up 10 goals on 54 shots in his previous two starts. Other than the second-period, which wasn’t solely his fault, he was spectacular in making 22 saves.
Phaneuf scored his first goal in six games since joining the Senators in a trade from Toronto. It appeared that Mrazek never saw the shot from the defenseman at the left point as he was being screened in front by Sens’ forward Mark Stone and Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser.
DETROIT 2, OTTAWA 2
SCORING: 1. OTT, Phaneuf (unassisted), 16:09.
PENALTIES: 1. OTT, Stone (slashing), 6:14.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (24), Ottawa 8 (24).
Bobby Ryan, at the end of shift, had the best scoring chance midway through the overtime period. After Cody Ceci blocked Tomas Tatar’s shot sending the puck into the neutral zone, Ryan was off, trudging toward the Wings’ net. The Sens’ forward made a series of moves but was denied by Mrazek, who made the splits on a remarkable pad save.
DETROIT 2, OTTAWA 2
SHOTS: Detroit 6 (30), Ottawa 2 (26).
OTTAWA 3, DETROIT 2
OTT, Ryan, NO GOAL (lost puck)
DET, Nyquist, NO GOAL (right pad save)
OTT, Turris, GOAL (five hole)
DET, Richards, NO GOAL (glove save)
OTT, Zibanejad, NO GOAL (right goal post)
DET, Datsyuk, NO GOAL (pad save)