He’ll look to top that performance tonight as the Red Wings conclude a three-game Western Canada trip against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.
Smith scored his first of the season, which was also his second career tally on the power play, and logged a season-high 21:48 of ice time in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Flames.
An offensive-minded blue liner during his college days at the University of Wisconsin, who was a fixture on the Badgers’ power play (and also at AHL Grand Rapids), Smith has made it known that he wants a chance at the NHL level.
“Obviously you haven’t seen me play on the power play I understand,” Smith said Saturday morning at Rogers Arena. “I think for myself I put a lot of pressure on myself because I know that I can play that position. To get that goal there, it’s pretty big for myself just to show that I can do it.”
Now Smith has to prove that Friday’s contribution to the power play was no accident.
“I just have as much pressure and I want to continue to prove that I can do it and it’s not just a fluke of one game,” he said. “It’s obviously a good feeling, but yeah I’ve got to go do it again.”
Besides Friday’s loss, the Red Wings were dealt a bigger blow when they learned that defensemen Mike Green (shoulder) and Kyle Quincey (concussion protocol) aren’t available tonight.
The Red Wings summons Alexey Marchenko from Grand Rapids. The rookie blue liner traveled all day to arrive in Vancouver for his season debut with Detroit.
The 23-year-old Marchenko has one goal and two points in 14 career games with the Red Wings, including 13 games in 2014-15. He will be paired with Danny DeKeyser.
The other defensive pairings will be Smith and Jakub Kindl, and Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson.
Petr Mrazek makes his fourth start of the season while crossing Vancouver off his personal list. Tonight is the goalie’s first career start against the Canucks.
In parts of four seasons, Mrazek has played against 23 different NHL teams. The only clubs left on his list are the Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and the New York Rangers.
Since winning the first three games of the season, the Red Wings have landed on hard times, going 0-3-1 in their last four games. It’s their longest such skid this early in the season since 1993-94 when they dropped four straight and fell to a 1-5 start after six games.
|Jokaim Andersson took a few swipes at a loose puck in front of Ryan Miller. But the Canucks' goalie prevented the Wings' center from scoring late in the first period. (Photo by Getty Images) |
Based on the action from the first half of the period it definitely looked like the Red Wings were the team that was playing the second night of back-to-back games.
The Canucks carried most of the play, buzzing around the Wings’ net.
Still, somehow the Red Wings had nearly as many shots on goal as the Canucks did through the opening 20 minutes.
Mrazek had to be strong in the early going, like the real early going, stopping Henrik Sedin’s breakaway chance in the opening seconds. Sedin had another quality chance moments later, but again, Mrazek took up plenty of real estate in the crease to stymie the Canucks’ captain who was appearing in his 1,100th career game on Saturday.
The Red Wings’ power play got off to an auspicious start when Smith’s turnover gave Alex Burrows a shorthanded breakaway. But again, Mrazek was there to extinguish the threat.
Henrik Zetterberg set up the Wings’ first scoring chance when his stretch pass sent Drew Miller in alone on his older brother Ryan. But the Canucks’ goaltender turned aside Drew shot, his 10th career shot on his brother in 10 head-to-head meetings.
The Canucks finally did get to Mrazek when Christopher Tanev scored his first goal of the season on a power play at 13:03.
The Wings picked up the tempo late in the period when Zetterberg’s line worked the puck down low and began to cycle around the zone, which created a few chances.
The next group out, anchored by center Joakim Andersson, had a brilliant opportunity by Ryan Miller stopped Andersson who took a few whacks at the puck inside the crease.
VANCOUVER 1, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1, VAN, Tanev PPG (Burrows, Hutton), 13:03.
PENALTIES: 1. VAN, Edler (holding), 9:43; 2. DET, Nyquist (hooking), 11:32.
SHOTS: Detroit 7, Vancouver 10.
The middle frame was more of an adventure for Mrazek and the Red Wings’ defense, especially on a pair of early penalty kills.
If not for the outstanding individual effort of Mrazek, the Canucks could have scored five or six more goals, instead of the one that the Wings’ goaltender held them to in the second 20-minutes Saturday.
The Wings managed to kill off Riley Sheahan’s high-sticking penalty, but with Ericsson in the box for tripping 2 ½ minutes later, the Canucks’ power play struck for the second time in the game, building a 2-0 lead at 8:02. Brandon Sutter was the benefactor, scoring his high-leading third goal of the season on Alex Burrows’ perfectly placed centering pass into the slot from below the goal line.
For the second straight night, the Wings were held to four shots in the second period. Saturday’s shots in the middle frame all came from the top scoring line: one each by Zetterberg and Abdelkader, and two by Nyquist.
The Wings’ power play, which scored twice in Calgary, lacked energy against the Canucks’ penalty killers. Through two periods, Detroit is 0-for-3 on the power play with three shots.
VANCOUVER 2, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. VAN, Sutter PPG (Burrows, Horvat), 8:02.
PENALTIES: 1. VAN, Hamhuis (hooking), 1:31; 2. DET, Sheahan (high-sticking), 3:54; 3. DET, Ericsson (tripping), 6:35; 4. VAN, McCann (tripping), 8:50.
SHOTS: Detroit 4 (11); Vancouver 12 (23).
Similar to their comeback win at Carolina in the second game of the season, the forward line of Dylan Larkin, Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Tatar gave life to the Red Wings in a game that they were so badly out played.
Detroit made it a one-goal game when Pulkkinen registered his fourth goal of the young season. His speed account for the score when he took Smith’s stretch pass near center ice and raced into the offense zone after pulling away from defenseman Ben Hutton and burying the puck past Ryan Miller.
Then, a high-sticking penalty by Yannick Weber was the conduit the Red Wings needed to even the score. With Abdelkader parked in front of the crease, Tatar deposited the puck into the top of the net behind Miller from the right face-off circle at 6:59.
The Wings had another power play opportunity when Alex Edler was called for holding against Smith. Edler’s penalty negated a Canucks power play. Once Kindl’s penalty expired the Wings had 1:25 of power play time left, but they only produced one shot.
VANCOUVER 2, DETROIT 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Pulkkinen (Smith), 4:25; 2. DET, Tatar PPG (Kronwall, Zetterberg), 6:59.
PENALTIES: 1. VAN, Weber (high-sticking), 6:05; 2. DET, Kindl (interference), 9:30; 3. VAN, Edler (holding), 10:56.
SHOTS: Detroit 12 (23), Vancouver 7 (30).
It was fitting that Mrazek set up the goal that completed the Red Wings unimaginable comeback victory on Saturday.
During a stretch of the OT period that was played a breakneck speeds, the Red Wings’ goalie played the puck and fired a long-distant pass to Nyquist, who scored the game winner at 3:50.
It was the Red Wings second straight game that ended with the 3-on-3 overtime period, and their first win.
The Wings had a golden opportunity when Daniel Sedin dragged Zetterberg down behind the Canucks’ net just 13 seconds into OT.
The Wings’ captain used his left arm to hold Daniel Sedin behind the Canucks’ net.
The Red Wings didn’t score on the 4-on-3 power play, generating just two shots in the two-minute man advantage.
All was forgotten when Mrazek, who made so many fine saves throughout the game came through with his pass to Nyquist.
The Red Wings will return home Sunday afternoon and begin preparations for the Carolina Hurricanes who will make their second and final appearance at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday night. It will be the third meeting between the two Eastern Conference clubs in 18 days.
The teams split the first two games with the road team claiming victories. The Wings won the first meeting, 4-3, at PNC Arena in Raleigh. The Hurricanes returned the favor, pinning a 5-3 loss on the Wings in Detroit.
DETROIT 3, VANCOUVER 2
SCORING: 1. DET, Nyquist (Mrazek), 3:50.
PENALTIES: 1. VAN, D. Sedin (tripping), 0:13
SHOTS: Detroit 5 (28), Vancouver 2 (32).