Welcome to a new series brought to you by Last Word on Hockey’s Detroit Red Wings branch, “Three Studs, Three Duds.” This will follow the conclusion of every Red Wings game through the remainder of the season, highlighting the three best players for Detroit on that given night in turn with the three worst. Without further adieu, let’s recap the Red Wings 3-2 overtime victory over the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild got on the board first thanks to Eric Staal‘s 26th of the season on a defensive miscue from Danny Dekeyser and Frans Nielsen leading to his breakaway to make it 1-0 with 10:17 left in the first. The lead lasted almost 10 minutes before the Red Wings struck with 19 seconds left on a Mike Green one-timer to tie the game heading into the break.
Mike Green, 1-1. Nielsen faceoff win. pic.twitter.com/a3nODawixK
Nate Prosser scored the only goal of the second period on a shot from the point that Dylan Larkin inadvertently deflected past Jimmy Howard to put the Wild ahead again with 3:46 left in the second as the only goal of the stanza. The lead would be short-lived, as Tomas Tatar struck on the power play on a nice pass from Gustav Nyquist 55 seconds into the final stanza of regulation.
Tatar from Nyquist. 2-2 early in the third. pic.twitter.com/Bjs6Y3Fdg5
The game would head to overtime, where Andreas Athanasiou would end it on a breakaway pass from Nyquist nearly two minutes into the extra session.
Another Angle: Howard makes huge save, Nyquist hits AA on the gun for the OT winner: pic.twitter.com/oS7bBSfjWf
Three Studs, Three Duds: Detroit Red Wings vs Minnesota Wild 3/26/17
Through the first two periods, there was no better skater on the team than Larkin, who was using his speed and elusiveness to his advantage more than a few times to cut into the slot and fire a wrister on net. In the second on the same shift, he captured a loose puck, rounded the net and found Mike Green for a chance from the slot. Moments later, he kept the puck in at the line and floated a pass to Niklas Kronwall who drove the net for an A+ chance before bumping into Devan Dubnyk. His inadvertent tip was a prime factor in the second goal being scored, but he nearly won the game in overtime on a steal at center leading to a 2-on-1 with Nyquist who just missed winning the game at the time. Larkin also made two nice reads in the defensive zone with his stick on the penalty kill and five-on-five.
Nielsen had a strong comeback game after being a factor in the 1-0 goal. He won 8 of 11 draws through two and 9 of 14 overall, with one of those wins lead to Green’s goal to tie the contest up. His puck support on both sides of the biscuit was essential in the victory. Highlights included making a nice hard rim around the boards leading to a Riley Sheahan chance in front of the net along with some nice backhand passes off the boards to support forwards in the offensive zone. The defensive end was a specialty however in this contest. On three separate occasions, Nielsen made a nice back check to deny an open shot in the third, supported defenders by boxing out at the net front to possibly save another goal, and prevented a chance from being created with a nice stick in the middle of the slot to get play going the other way.
A ghost for the first two periods, Nyquist made his mark in the third along with his linemates after being primarily shut down. His two crucial assists lead to the game being tied and the game, of course, being won. He also chipped in with three shots on goal to tie for the team lead. On two of those three shots, Dubnyk made incredible saves to rob him of two more possible points in the third.
Making 24 saves, Howard stood tall all game long for Detroit, especially at the very end, making three huge saves in the final minute with the Wings reeling in their own end. In overtime, his save on Erik Haula lead to Athanasiou’s OT winner moments later.
Paired with Nick Jensen and posting a combined On-Ice Corsi-For of -17 through two periods, it just wasn’t Dekeyser’s day. Finishing with a -15 mark individually, his ill-advised step-up got part of the blame on the first goal. He capped an ugly outing by icing the puck with 97 seconds to play after getting dragged across the ice by the Wild’s top line along with failing to keep the puck in at the offensive blueline with 20 seconds left killing any possible chance of winning the game in regulation.
On the giving-end of two penalties and not doing much else to help the Wings’ cause in advancing the puck, Abdelkader provided one shot attempt and finished with a -7 on-ice ratio. In terms of infractions, his careless high-stick in the offensive zone on the power play killed any sort of momentum that it could have created with the Wings down in the game early. The goaltender interference was a case of battling in the crease with Mathieu Dumba, but it took a vital goal that could have been away leading to a weak challenge by Jeff Blashill.
An improved defender this season, Ouellet just got out-battled. His pinch in the first period that lead to a Wild 3-on-1 did not help his cause. He finished with a -7 differential in on-ice Corsi-for, turning it over in his own end twice on two occasions leading to Minnesota chances.
Up next, Detroit will travel to Carolina tomorrow for a back-to-back set at PNC Arena as part of the three-games-in-three-nights trip caused by a postponement in Carolina earlier in the season.