How nice was it to score the team’s first short-handed goal of the season and your first in 17 games?
LEFT WING - DET
Goals: 8 | Assists: 6 | Pts: 14
Shots: 101 | +/-: -15
“Marchy made a great play there at the line. He does a great job of breaking up plays like that. He just put it into space and I had a step on the guy and saw the lane and got a fortunate bounce. Their player slashed me at the last second and I kind of fanned on it actually, but luckily it went in.”
First shootout attempt for you this season, what were you thinking?
“I like to do a certain few moves and that one was in my head, so I just tried to make a good fake off the start and then I got a good bounce off the post.”
How does this team feel after a big two points after tonight?
“It’s huge. I think those first eight spots in our conference are so close, so we need to pull out wins like this. We had a little rough patch there on the road and to get back home and play in front of our own fans and have some success is good for us.”
Importance of chipping and chasing against a big Blue Jackets team, happy with the outcome?
“Yeah, I think we showed spirts where we were getting pucks in deep and skating well. I think when you can do that and you can move around the O-zone, we have so many skilled players that are able to make offensive players, so we did a good job at that and we were getting pucks to the net.”
How relieved were you to finally score for the first time since Jan. 10?
“It definitely felt good. Obviously, you’d like to contribute on the score sheet as much as you can and gain confidence in that area but at the same time you have to do little things right. I think we got a bunch of guys that know that and we have to do a good job out there.”
Was the point drought frustrating you?
“I think it’s kind of obviously. You do want to be a scorer and you want to contribute on the score sheet, especially when you’ve put up OK numbers in the past. But at the same time you can’t let it get to you because it’s a long season, it’s a long grind and if you let it get to you mentally it kind of wears you down.”
What was the team’s collective thought on the play blown dead by the officials when Mrazek began to skate the puck out up the ice?
“That was a huge save for Petr and built some momentum for us. I guess there’s a rule where the goalie can’t take strides with the puck but we didn’t know that obviously. Petr’s always thinking ahead of the game and I think that’s one of the reasons he’s so good.”
Do you just get used to playing in these tight games now?
“Yeah, I feel like our last handful of games has been like this, so they’re fun to play in. Obviously it’s more fun when you come out with a win but they’re good. You have to get your legs going. It’s definitely a team effort.”
Why are tight games fun to play in?
“Your attention is all into the game and you’re focused and the intensity of the crowd and everything. It’s an adrenaline rush and we have fun with it.”
You ended up with six shots on goal, was that because you have more opportunities, or were you more focused on it?
“I think just getting the puck to the net was a focus. Sometimes the goalies are so good that they can cut the angles and take away shot lanes, and I think when you can get the puck to the net and look for a bounce you gotta good chance at getting a goal. So I just tried to do that tonight.”
How excited are you for the Stadium Series against the Avalanche in Denver on Saturday?
“Yeah, it’s exciting. I think the last one at the Winter Classic at the Big House was a lot of fun for the guys. We’re looking forward to it, looking forward to sharing it with our families, and I think we’ll have a good time.”
When was the last time you had a shootout attempt?
“I think last year in Minnesota was my last one.”
Were you successful on that shot attempt?
“Yeah, kind of did the same move, so I guess I gotta try and find a new one.”
Do you need to say anything to the referee when he blows the whistle on Mrazek in overtime?
Defense - DET
Goals: 3 | Assists: 14 | Pts: 17
Shots: 43 | +/-: -10
"There's not much really you can say, the play's already over. Obviously there's some emotions there, as there should be. But I think that sometimes the refs make mistakes too. They're not trying to make mistakes. That just happens. I even talked to one of the (linesmen) after and he said as a goalie, you can't take any strides with the puck either. I don't know if that's a rule or not but if that's the case, maybe he took a stride or two."
How big were these two points?
"It was huge. From here on in, it's going to be like this, tight games. Obviously we got to tighten up a lot more defensively. There was a little bit too much open, too many scoring chances against, but Petr played great, as always, and gave us a chance."
First game back and you're out for 3-on-3 overtime, how did the conditioning feel?
"There's some stuff to work on, for sure, not just the conditioning part. Timing and gap control and things like that. A little rusty but it was definitely nice to be back on the ice."
You couldn't lose on Nick Night, right?
"Right, it was good to get the win on his night, for sure."
What was that like, seeing him out there, you being the first one to greet him?
"It was nice. Definitely anytime he gets recognized, he deserves that and so much more from the things that he's accomplished. It was nice to see him back in Detroit, see him back on the ice. Obviously we'd like to have him with the gear on but we'll take this, too."
How much are you looking forward to the Stadium Series game in Denver?
"It's going to be fun, no doubt. It's one of those games that you circle early on, even before the season starts. It's going to be a lot of fun, hopefully the ice holds up and we can enjoy it."
Can it be fun with so much on the line here in late February?
"I think you have to find a way to embrace it, enjoy it and have some fun with it. The minute you start focusing too much on what's at stake, I think it's just going to push you down and hinder you from moving forward. Embrace it and like where we're at, just keep moving."
Did you know the rule about skating with the puck?
Goalie - DET
GAA: 2.07 | Sv%: .928
"No, I didn't. I was so mad. Honestly. I saw Pav skating by the blue line. I don't think I skated with it that long, just maybe one, two steps and then he blows whistle."
What did the ref tell you?
"I was mad. He just said it's the rule that I can't skate with puck. That's the rule so you have to accept it."
How about when they made a push in the third?
"They were coming hard in the third period. We tried to push hard as well. They had some good looks. It was good that they didn't go in."
As a goalie, what's it like dealing with someone who can bring speed and elusiveness like Athanasiou?
"It's hard for the goaltender when a guy has a full head of steam, especially in three on three. You could see it there. He made a breakaway from the side and the goalie made a nice save. It's a tough spot for a goalie to make a save. He's fast."
Shootouts have not been the Red Wings' forte?
"Sheahan and Double-A made nice plays, nice moves. If you score two goals in the shootout you should win and we did."
How nice for you to bounce back after a rough stretch?
"It's always nice to be back at two points. The standings are close and every point that you have it's important."
Is ending a four-game winless skid a load off the team's psyche?
"I wouldn't say that. It's just the past. It happened. We look forward. We didn't think about that we didn't win in four games."
Can you describe for us that shootout move?
Center - DET
Goals: 2 | Assists: 3 | Pts: 5
Shots: 21 | +/-: 1
“It’s kind of my go-to, forehand, backhand, back to forehand. I tried to pull it off as quick as possible and get the goalie to bite.”
When did you decide on the move?
“I think I thought of it when I got to the hash marks. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do and at the last minute I just went to what I know works.”
When did you find out you’d be in the shootout?
“Late in the third, right after that shot, he told me I was going and I hopped on.”
What does it do for your confidence when Blashill calls on you in OT and the shootout?
“It’s definitely a big thing. I get a little comfortable getting on in those situations. It was a lot of fun. I used my speed.”
Are you still feeling your way through the process since being called up?
“I know what my strengths are; I know how to play within my role and my skillset. I try to stick to it and be as consistent as possible.”
How important was it for this team to get that second point?
“That’s huge. After a couple losses it’s a big thing to bounce back, especially at home. It’s always good to come back home and get the win.”
Once you made that move on your OT breakaway, did you decide you weren’t going to do that move again in the shootout?
“I was carrying so much speed there I just tried to get it on net as quick as possible. I was a little in tight there but he made a big save.”
Has it ever been a negative to be carrying the puck with that much speed?
“If I control the puck it’s fine. I think carrying the speed helps out a lot, kind of puts the D on their heels. You come in with that speed on the goalie he has to back in tight. I tried to get it up, I think I got in a little too in tight. The D backed in quite a bit so I didn’t have much room once I got by him.”
How were your nerves in the shootout?
“It’s always nerve-wracking; it’s one on one, you and the goalie. It’s either going to be his time to shine or if you get the opportunity you got to make the most of it. I was fortunate enough to put the puck in.”
How excited are you for the Stadium Series game this weekend?
“It’s going to be real exciting. It’s going to be my first outdoor game. I’ll be looking forward to it.”
Did Blashill use you much in shootout when you were together in AHL Grand Rapids?
“I don’t think I’ve been in a shootout in GR.”
When was the last time you were in a shootout?
“Probably in OHL. It’s been a while for sure.”
|Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith was injured during the first period, but returned in the third and finished Tuesday's game. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings) |
How about getting two points from this one?
"It’s a big two points. Coming off four games where we weren’t able to get a win – obviously we had points in the last two – but at home here we needed the two points. We’re at that point in the season where you have to find a way and we found a way."
What did the ref say about the Mrazek play in overtime?
"He was explaining, I guess by the rule he can’t skate with the puck and play it. I’ll look into that. By rule, he can’t skate with the puck play it. We thought that was a quick whistle but that’s going to happen."
Was putting Sheahan and Athanasiou in the shootout a hunch?
"Sheahan hasn’t taken many shootouts but his numbers are pretty good. We’ve obviously gone with the guys whose numbers area pretty good historically and recently in recent years but it hasn’t worked. It was a bit of a hunch. Sheahan had scored on a breakaway earlier and Athanasiou I know is a real good shootout guy having him in Grand Rapids. He’s a real good shootout guy so it was a bit of a hunch."
How about Athanasiou in overtime?
"I thought he was skating tonight. I thought he was real good. You get that open ice and he’s electrifying as a skater and his ability to make plays at high speed. I just thought he had it tonight and I wanted to keep going to him. He was supposed to be on the ice in New York and he didn’t get the change and they ended up scoring. He’s somebody in that 3-on-3 situation that I think can do some pretty good things and obviously he was pretty good tonight overall."
Was this Sheahan’s best game of the season?
"Every forward likes scoring. I don’t care who you are. It makes you feel good about yourself. I can’t say whether or not it was his best game but he certainly played well tonight. I thought he had good jump. The one thing with Riley is they’re a hard to get to get to the inside. They’re a heavy, strong team and he’s a heavy, heavy player. That’s one thing, when you get against a team like this that’s hard to get to the inside, those heavy players really end up showing well and he showed well tonight."
Were you able to dump and chase like you wanted?
"Not effective enough but they’ve got something to say about that. I thought they had something to say about that. They’re obviously playing real good hockey. I think they had won seven of 10 or something like that. So they had something to say about that for sure. We could have done a better job of getting the inside. We had moments. It was a muddy track out there. I thought the puck was bouncing around a lot. It didn’t seem like there was lots of clean things going on. I thought we had moments of good and not good. We’ll have to correct the not good and build on the good. But it was a good two points."
How did you feel about Kronwall’s minutes and his play?
"I thought he played very well. I thought we were effective in a sense that I never felt like he was tired. In that sense, we were effecting and I thought he played very well. Credit to him and our training staff and our strength coach Mike Kadar to go into a game like this in tip-top shape after missing four weeks."
Does a game like this build Mrazek’s confidence even more?
"It builds off the last game in Ottawa, where I thought he was good as well. Petr’s got the ability, I think, to not get too rattled ever. He seems to be able to stay with himself. Like anybody, I think when you’re feeling it you’re feeling it. He let the one early that he’d like to have back but after that I thought he played really well. We gave up too many odd-man rushes tonight and I thought he played real well."
Looking forward to a fun outdoor game in Colorado?
"I think that’s an important thing for sure. I think it’s important to enjoy the moment. I think it’s important to enjoy the journey in life. I’ve stressed that lots. Myself and the team, we want to enjoy the journey. You can go through life and the next thing you blink and it’s over. I think moments like this within season, when you get an opportunity to play in an unbelievable setting and obviously it’s a big deal, it’s awesome. Obviously there’s two big points there. But we’re going to enjoy it. We’ll have our practice out there and we’ll enjoy the game."
You made some changes in the lines in the third?
"One third we were actually rolling three groups of four and juggling guys through that. We’ll look at it tomorrow and I’ll watch the game again and decide what’s the best line combinations that we can have. We’re still a work in progress there. I’d love to leave the lines the same the rest of the year but we have to find combinations that will work at a high level."
How about your offensive chances in this one?
"I didn’t think we had quite as many chances as we need to have tonight. Sometimes I walk out and think we had lots of chances, we just didn’t score. Tonight I didn’t think we got to the inside of the ice well enough. I didn’t think we had enough net presence. I think there’s definitely think we can build on. That’s not to say we didn’t have any. We missed a bit of an empty net with Pulkkinen-to-Athanasiou but we didn’t have enough for sure. So we have to continue to build off that."
DetroitRedWings.com editor Dana Wakiji contributed to this report.