|Petr Mrazek gave the Red Wings a chance to win Sunday, stopping 22 shots by the Avalanche in regulation and overtime. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings) |
DETROIT – Goal support at home isn’t a luxury that Petr Mrazek is very accustom to, though the rookie goaltender won’t dwell on it.
“It’s not pressure,” Mrazek said. “You have to enjoy the game and be focused on every shot.”
Mrazek played well enough to halt Detroit’s winless streak, but again, the offense struggled as the Red Wings were dealt a 2-1 verdict in a shootout, which lasted nine rounds, against the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena.
“He was amazing,” center Riley Sheahan said of Mrazek, who made 22 saves and stopped six more shots in the shootout. “I know the guys feel real comfortable playing while he’s in there. Aside from his goaltending skills and stopping the puck, he’s amazing at playing the puck, too. When you have goalie back there who can break you out it’s easy to get into the other zone. He’s an amazing goaltender.”
The 22-year-old Mrazek hasn’t fared well in six appearances at JLA, including two games, which were starts that finished with the Wings coming out on the wrong end of shutouts.
The Wings and Avs played to a scoreless tie through the first two periods Sunday evening. But the Wings broke the ice on the power play when Pavel Datsyuk, who had a game-high seven shots on goal, scored his team-best 13th goal of the season.
Sheahan made a terrific play, flipping a saucer pass across the ice to Datsyuk, who corralled the puck off his skate and wired a wrist shot past Colorado goalie Calvin Pickard at 4:52 of the third period.
Other than the shootout goals by Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar that was the only other time the Wings managed to solve the rookie netminder.
The Red Wings are now 0-2-4 in their last six games. In that stretch, the Wings have just six goals with only two of those coming at even strength.
“We directed 71 shots on the shot and we got one goal, so we’re obviously not scoring very good at this point, but I thought we played well,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we had the puck the majority of the game. In the end their goalie was good and we didn’t finish. So I don’t like coming to the (media) scrum every night and saying the same thing. But we got to find a way to score goals. I liked our effort. Pavel Datsyuk had seven shots alone and missed the net I don’t know how many times. Good, good opportunities. We had lots of opportunities. We didn’t finish. Let’s get on with it.”
Mrazek is now 0-3-1 at The Joe. In those decisions, he’s had the support of two total goals, including Daniel Cleary’s tally in a 5-2 loss to Anaheim last December.
Mrazek started in place of Jimmy Howard who suffered a groin injury in the first period of Friday’s 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders. While the injury isn’t considered serious, the veteran goalie’s status is day to day.
With backup Jonas Gustavsson (shoulder) still on injured reserve, it was necessary for the Red Wings to recall Tom McCollum to backup Mrazek for Sunday. It was the first time the Wings dressed two rookie goalies for the same game since March 28, 1998, when Norm Maracle and Kevin Hodson were pressed into service against Chicago.
After allowing back-to-back goals by Avs centers Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene at the start of the skills competition, Mrazek slammed the door on Colorado, until veteran Jarome Iginla’s attempt in the ninth round.
Mrazek had stopped Alex Tanguay, Ryan O’Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog, Daniel Briere, John Mitchell and Tyson Barrie before Iginla slid a shot underneath Mrazek’s pads for the shootout winner.
Pickard was equally as good on his end, stopping Datsyuk, Sheahan, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Jurco and Brendan Smith.
“I thought Mrazek gave us a great chance,” Babcock said. “Anytime the goalie makes as many saves as he did you got to find a way to score some goals. Z hit the post and Jurco had him down and out and shot it wide. That part we’re obviously snake-bitten in (the shootout). We had some opportunities in overtime as well. You got to give them credit. They found a way. They got good goaltending to hang in there until they could score a goal and got the extra point. We need to find a way to get the second point. Two adds up better than one.”