Detroit Red Wings fall just short tonight against the defending champs

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 06: Chandler Stephenson #18 of the Washington Capitals battles for position with Luke Witkowski #28 of the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on January 6, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 06: Chandler Stephenson #18 of the Washington Capitals battles for position with Luke Witkowski #28 of the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on January 6, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Red Wings fell a little short but played the defending Stanley Cup Champions tough.  The Washington Capitals beat the Wings 3-2 tonight in Motown.

Coming off of the upset victory Friday night at home against the Nashville Predators, the Detroit Red Wings had the opportunity to build on that success.  A win like that after losing the previous six games in a row gave the Wings a much-needed jolt of confidence.

I expected the odds of beating a Caps team that had been reeling of late with 3 straight losses would be a tough task.  They would be coming into Detroit looking to get things going in the right direction themselves.

It may sound outrageous, but there is a big difference when a top team comes into the building of a non-playoff team in the midst of a losing streak or winning streak.  A lot of times if a top team comes in having ripped off three or four straight wins they may not take a team like the Detroit Red Wings so serious.  It leaves the Wings with an opportunity to jump out and take it to them early and play them tough.

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When a contending team that has been fighting it and had lost a few in a row they look at a team like the Wings and feel they can right the ship so to speak and get themselves right.  Unfortunately, that is what the Caps did tonight.  The Wings played them tough, they gave the defending champs all they wanted on this particular night, yet fall just short again.

The wildly disliked Tom Wilson opened the scoring for the Capitals tonight in the first period.  It would be his 12th goal of the season.  He buried a shot from the bottom of the right circle past Howard glove side.

The Wings would answer back 7 minutes later with one of their own to tie this game up.  Anthony Mantha stayed hard on a backcheck while chasing exiting the offensive zone.  His hard work paid off, he streaked in off the left wing and scored on a beautiful back-hander as he streaked in front of the net, it found its way through the five-hole.

After the first period ended 1-1, the lone goal scorer in the second period would be defenceman Filip Hronek.  He would score what should be a Sportscenter top 10 highlight reel type goal.  Gus Nyquist had the puck on the left wing half wall and fired a hard pass cross-ice to the right wing half wall where Dylan Larkin was waiting.

Larkin one-touched the feed from Gus and delivered an unbelievable pass to a streaking Filip Hronek who merely reached his stick out and redirected the hard pass by netminder Brayden Holtby. Certainly one of the best things you will see tonight.

The third period would be the frame the Capitals would dominate and inevitably leading themselves to the victory.  They outshot the Wings to the tune of 15-6 in the third.  It seemed Detroit sort of ran out of gas.

Usually, the second period is a disaster for the Wings; tonight it wasn’t that way.  They played their best hockey in the first but didn’t crawl into a hole in the second like they have so many other times.

The Caps tied the game on a Travis Boyd goal at the 6: 19-minute mark of the third period. He scored from the exact same spot where Tom Wilson did from the bottom of the right circle.  The go-ahead goal would come late in the period.

Michal Kempny ripped a point shot through traffic, and it found its way past Jimmy Howard.  It seemed to be tipped by Alex Ovechkin, yet the goal judge didn’t seem to think so as they credited Kempny with the tally.

Nick Jensen and Jacob de La Rose both blocked shots on a Caps PP.  Jensen has been doing it all year long and continues to be an unsung hero on the Wings backend.  He was in considerable pain on the Wings bench.

de La Rose sold out and blocked an Ovechkin rocket.  He needed assistance to the Detroit Red Wings locker room.  He would return later in the third period and seemed to be skating fine.  It takes some courage to block one of those blasts.  He will definitely need to soak that foot/leg in the ice bucket tonight.

Howard made 31 saves tonight in a respectable effort that fell just short.  The Wings had a late power-play opportunity where they were able to pull Howie and play 6 on 4.  They were neutralized for the most part and were unable to tie it.

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The Detroit Red Wings will try their luck once again on Tuesday night when they host the Montreal Canadians.