DETROIT – Tonight the Red Wings look to win for the third straight time at home, something they haven’t done in more than two months when they won four in a row at Joe Louis Arena.
So what’s going right for the Wings now?
“We've been playing a lot better on the road this year than we have been at home, we've been winning more games on the road,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We've been talking a little bit that we maybe want to do a little too much here at home, keep it a little more simple. When you do that and you score goals, it's a good thing.”
Four players – Pavel Datsyuk, Dylan Larkin, Brad Richards and Tomas Tatar – have points in both of the team’s two home wins this week, 5-1 over the New York islanders and 3-0 against Florida.
It’s just the fourth time this season the Red Wings have accumulated at least eight goals in a two-game span. The first was at the start of the season with 4-0 and 4-3 victories over Toronto and Carolina, respectively.
Detroit scored 15 goals, netting five each in consecutive home wins against Buffalo, Arizona and Nashville at the beginning of December.
Part of the recent of the Wings’ recent success can be attributed to the reunion of the Euro Twin, Zetterberg and Datsyuk. The pair is joined by forward Justin Abdelkader.
The move gives coach Jeff Blashill the ability to use Richards the way he envisioned when the Wings signed the veteran center in the off season.
“Dylan can self-generate, a lot of times regardless of who he’s playing with but it had more to do with my belief that Brad Richards is a second-line center, he did it last year on a Stanley Cup-winning team,” Blashill said. “With Hank and Pav it gives you a 1-2 punch up the middle that is a real important piece but we wanted to take a little bit of a chance like – in Ken Holland’s words – get two percent better. By putting them together we hoped that synergy would create a little more offense and also have a real good No. 2 center in Brad Richards who can be accountable defensively.”
The Wings got lucky, literally, in the opening seconds when Senators center Zack Smith launched a shot from the blue line that beat goalie Petr Mrazek.
Fortunately for Mrazek the rising shot rang off the left goal post behind him and caromed into the corner.
The Senators managed to get four shots on goal before the Wings recorded their first. But Detroit made its count when defenseman Danny DeKeyser scored on a shot that went bar down at 3:03 of the period.
DeKeyser now has seven goals this season, with five of them coming in the last 13-plus games.
The Wings’ defenseman stepped into the slot where he took a feeding pass from Gustav Nyquist who camped out behind the Sens’ net. DeKeyser had time to gather the bouncing puck and get a shot off that appeared to go off Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s skate.
The Wings nearly built a two-goal lead – twice. Once on a Darren Helm breakaway and later on a rocket by Brendan Smith.
Sens goalie Craig Anderson likely heard Smith’s bullet shot whiz by his head. But, like Mrazek, earlier in the period, Anderson got lucky when the puck struck the middle of the crossbar and stayed out with 7:45 left in the period.
Detroit had at least one other quality scoring chance, this one on the power play at 3:43. With Alex Chiasson serving a high-sticking penalty, Abdelkader skated in front the right face-off circle to whip a low wrist shot, but Anderson snagged the puck with a quick left glove hand.
DETROIT 1, OTTAWA 0
SCORING: 1. DET, DeKeyser (Nyquist, Athanasiou), 3:03.
PENALTIES: 1, OTT, Chiasson (high-sticking), 14:27; 2. DET, Marchenko (interference), 19:39.
SHOTS: Detroit 13, Ottawa 10.
First order of business for the Red Wings was to kill off the remaining 1:21 of Alexey Marchenko’s interference penalty. They did that without yielding a shot by the Senators.
The Senators’ Smith had another good scoring chance, but this time Mrazek kept the puck in front of him, stopping the center’s shot from close range midway through the period.
For the second time in three games the Wings had an unexpected delay, though this wasn’t nearly as long as Saturday’s 30-plus minute debacle when a bolt, which got wedged under the Zamboni blade, carved a lengthy hole in the ice delaying the start of the third period.
Wednesday’s delay was caused by a broken pane of glass behind the Red Wings’ net. Repairs took less than four minutes.
The Wings continue to play stellar defensively in front of Mrazek. During one sequence, Riley Sheahan’s quick thinking prevented Mika Zibanejad from getting off a shot by tying up his stick in the low slot.
Mrazek came up big during the Sens second power play chance of the night, stymying Smith for a second time in the period. This time Smith, on a power play, tried to bank a bad-angle shot along the goal line off a fallen Mrazek.
Mrazek has gone 115:53 without giving up a goal. The last goal surrendered by the Wings was in the third period against the Islanders.
DETROIT 1, OTTAWA 0
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Helm (hooking), 13:04; 2. DET, Glendening (tripping), 19:22.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (21), Ottawa 8 (18).
The period started on a bad note for the Wings, who lost DeKeyser to an apparent knee injury in the opening minute.
Dion Phaneuf, who was acquired in a trade with Toronto on Tuesday, whistled a blast from the point that looked to hit DeKeyser on the outside of the right knee. He was helped to the team bench and hobbled down the tunnel to the dressing room.
DeKeyser returned later and skated one shift coming out of a TV timeout with 11:24 left in regulation, but headed back to the dressing room upon returning to the bench.
Moments after DeKeyser was hurt, the Wings increased their lead on a delayed penalty to the Sens. Henrik Zetterberg raced around Phaneuf to lift a shot passed Anderson at 2:01.
The Senators’ best chance to get a goal came on a 5-on-3 power play for 27. But the Wings’ PK, led by Sheahan, Luke Glendening and Jonathan Ericsson killed off the two-man advantage before Tomas Jurco, who was serving a too-man-men penalty, exited the box.
The Sens’ Smith finally solved Mrazek, scoring a power-play goal late to ruin the shutout bid.
Helm capped the scoring with an empty netter.
DETROIT 3, OTTAWA 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Zetterberg (Datsyuk), 2:01; 2. OTT, Smith PPG (Hoffman, Karlsson), 17:36; 3. DET, Helm EN (unassisted), 18:49.
PENALTIES: 1. OTT, Borowiecki (boarding) 2:36; 2. DET, Jurco (too man men on the ice), 4:40; 3. DET, Quincey (interference), 6:03; 4. DET, Kindl (hooking), 11:42; 5. DET, Tatar (interference), 15:39.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (29), Ottawa 5 (23).