DETROIT -- If the Red Wings have had a mantra the last few years, it is "Start on time." It is something that coaches and players have harped upon, Detroit's inability to play a complete 60-minute hockey game.
Far too many times the Wings have surrendered the first goal and have found themselves playing from behind in the first period. Entering Saturday afternoon's game against the Capitals, the Wings were 10-6-6 in games where they scored first this season.
Detroit did score first on Saturday when Frans Nielsen connected on the power play at 8:13 of the first period on a nifty pass from Henrik Zetterberg, which set the tone in the Wings thrilling 3-2 shootout victory over Washington Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
1. Petr Mrazek : When the season began, Mrazek was Detroit's definitive number one goalie. However, as the year progressed Mrazek's game never came into top form, which resulted in him eventually losing his starting job to Jimmy Howard. When Howard went down with a knee injury on December 23, Mrazek found himself in a competition for playing time with rookie Jared Coreau, as many began to question if Mrazek's inconsistent play was something that would plague him all season long. Over the course of the last two weeks, Mrazek has often times played brilliantly and Saturday's game against the Capitals may have been his best effort of the season. Mrazek stopped 34 of 36 shots for a .944 save percentage, raising his record to 13-15. He made many spectacular saves, especially in the third period when the Caps had three power play opportunities.
Quotable: "He's playing really well for us right now making saves that need to be saved. When you see a goalie battling that hard for you, making momentum saves, it kind of gives you the opportunity to keep playing the way you want to play. If you can do that, you start creating chances. When he is making those saves we can play a little bit different." -- Darren Helm
2. Line of Mantha-Zetterberg-Tatar: It should come as no surprise the Wings' best line was Anthony Mantha, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar. They generated many scoring chances and were rewarded for their hard work with a second-period goal scored by Tatar on a crisp tic-tac-toe passing play between Mantha, Zetterberg and Tatar. It was the Wings' second goal of the game and allowed them to regain their composure, because the Capitals began to make a strong push in the second period.
Quotable: (describing how the play developed on the second goal) "Neutral zone forecheck was on point there, got the turnover, just went off the rush. I saw the D go sliding right away so when you have Z (Zetterberg) on that side, you give it right away. He did an unbelievable pass to Tuna (Tatar) on the other side, which he had an open net even before Ovi (Alex Ovechkin) came back. It was big. We knew they had big scorers that could come back. But we just had to keep playing. I think Mrazek played unbelievable in net." -- Mantha
3. Perfect shootout record: Perhaps it is a bit melodramatic, but Shakespeare could not have written a better ending to the shootout. Washington was 6-0 in the month of February and the Red Wings were 6-0 this season in the shootout. After being tied at 1-1 after 4 rounds, a roaring Joe Louis Arena crowd witnessed a fifth-round matchup between Zetterberg and Ovechkin. Detroit's captain beat Capitals goalie Braden Holtby five-hole to give the Wings the lead. Up next was Ovechkin, who was stopped by the very hot Mrazek to give Detroit the victory. Washington was no longer undefeated in the month of February and the Wings, who have never been known for their shootout prowess, remained a perfect 7-0 in shootouts this season.
Quotable: "I think we are just catching up for the years before. We weren't really good. Vanny (Thomas Vanek) and Nielsen helped us a lot. They've been scoring in the shootouts. And Petr was outstanding today" -- Tatar