After 40 minutes on Friday night, the Detroit Red Wings looked like they were finally going to send the fans at Joe Louis Arena home feeling good. All they needed to do was hold onto a 3-1 lead against the Washington Capitals and they would finally break a lengthy home losing streak.
Instead, it was more of the same. Alex Ovechkin and Michael Latta scored third period goals for the Caps, and Nicklas Backstrom scored the only goal in the shootout to propel Washington to a 4-3 comeback win – one that left the Red Wings with just one point from each of four consecutive home games.
Johan Franzen and Tomas Tatar did their best to ensure Detroit wasn’t headed for another extra time loss. After Brooks Laich opened the scoring by knocking in his own rebound for the visitors, Franzen struck with two straight goals to stake the Wings to a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. The first tally came on a hard wrist shot with Tatar screening Braden Holtby on the power play, while the second was a one-timer from a tough angle after Tatar made a heady feed while circling the net.
The Wings added to their advantage in the second period on Danny DeKeyser‘s second goal of the season. Washington entered the night with the top penalty killing unit in the NHL, but DeKeyser one-timed a Franzen pass from the right circle for the Wings’ second power play goal of the night.
Ovechkin had been relatively quiet through two periods, but his shot between the legs of Niklas Kronwall pulled the Capitals to within one at the 3:19 of the third. With Detroit looking increasingly sloppy with the puck, Latta took advantage of a fortunate bounce off traffic in front of the Detroit net to score his first NHL goal, knotting things up with 8:06 to play.
The overtime session had it’s share of drama thanks to power plays for both teams, separated by a brief spell of three-on-three hockey. That failed to produce a winner, and after Holtby poked the puck away from all three Detroit forwards int the shootout, Backstrom beat Jimmy Howard low to extend the misery at the Joe.
Holtby made 34 saves to secure the win, perhaps none better than the first period toe stop he used to deny Tatar. Howard turned away 30 of 33 shots during regulation and OT but once again found himself unable to seal things up in the shootout.
The Red Wings played with just 17 skaters after Daniel Alfredsson was unable to go with a groin injury. That could mean a quick call-up from Grand Rapids, because Detroit is right back in action Saturday night at the New York Islanders.
Though it seems strange to say, at least that game is on the road.
The game was over when:
The Wings couldn’t make their lead hold up. It just so happened that their weakest play coincided with the most pressure applied by the Caps, and while Ovechkin’s goal was the type only he could score, Mike Babcock can’t be pleased that this one got away.
The Red Wings unsung hero was:
All of the forwards for skating with one less man all game. It might not be pretty on Long Island tomorrow, as the back-to-back games are only going to be exacerbated by playing the first one a man down.