Entertaining game in Nashville ends with a Detroit Red Wings victory

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 12: Brian Boyle #11 of the Nashville Predators battles in front of the net against Nick Jensen #3 and Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings at Bridgestone Arena on February 12, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 12: Brian Boyle #11 of the Nashville Predators battles in front of the net against Nick Jensen #3 and Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings at Bridgestone Arena on February 12, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings didn’t exactly come out flying so to speak tonight, but Jimmy Howard indeed rose to the occasion.  Howard needed to weather the storm early for Detroit, allowing his teammates time to wake up before skating to an entertaining 3-2 victory in Nashville.

The first period was wide-open hockey that would leave one Jimmy Howard to wonder if he was still at the All-Star game rather than in net for the Detroit Red Wings.  In turn, to give his team an opportunity to win each night, he needs to play like an All-Star, and he has. Jimmy was absolutely sensational tonight for Detroit.

Howard’s numbers have been consistent all season long, and when you look at his 2.78 GAA and 0.913% SV you start to wonder; how the heck he’s accomplished that all season with this below average group playing in front of him?

Although the Detroit Red Wings took a 1-0 lead into the locker room after the first period, it was the Jimmy Howard show.  The Predators outshot the Wings to the tune of 19-9 after one yet trailed.

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The Lone Wings goal in the frame came from an unlikely source.  Luke Glendening deflected a Nick Jensen point shot past Pekka RinneFilip Forsberg turned the puck over behind his own net, he was a bit lazy and sent a soft pass around the wall, and the Detroit Red Wings were able to pick it off and deposit it into the back of the net.

Dylan Larkin made it 2-0 briefly for the Wings in the second period when he scored his 24th goal of the season on a Wings power-play.  Larkin set a new career high for goals scored in a single season tonight with a lot of time left in the season to add to it.  He has 30 goals well in his sights, something no Red Wings player has been able to do since 2009.

When we said, Larkin gave the Wings a brief two-goal lead we weren’t kidding.  Viktor Arvidsson ripped an absolute rocket past Howard less than a minute after Larkin extended Detroit’s lead.  He’s hot, like really hot.  He’s now scored 16 goals in 2019 alone.  In 35 games this season he’s scored 25 goals.

The Preds wouldn’t be finished yet, PK Subban who seems to always find a way to score against the Wings did it again.  He deposited a one-timed shot from the point on the power-play past Howard.  It would be Subban’s 5th goal of the season. Howard never saw the shot, big 6’6 newly acquired Brian Boyle was providing the screen.

The third period would be the deciding period. The Detroit Red Wings would start the period in the box as Danny DeKeyser stuck out his knee and collided with a Preds forward as time expired in the second period.  It was blatant and a boneheaded play by DeKeyser, the knee on knee stuff is a good way to get yourself or someone else injured.

Talking about penalties, Jacob de La Rose was called for “playing with a broken stick.”  A call you won’t see very often.  Players are instructed to drop their stick immediately after they feel it break.  Apparently, Brad Watson (the official) thought the stick was broken before de La Rose leaned on it as he was attempting to clear the puck from his own zone on a PK.  It was a really odd call.

Despite being heavily outshot 29-17 after two periods, the Wings found a way to re-take the lead 4:08 into the third period.  Andreas Athanasiou who had multiple chances throughout the first couple of periods, including a clear cut breakaway to be exact.

He went to the backhand and tried to tuck it five-hole, but Rinne was able to close it up and take it away.  Athanasiou would be rewarded though from a nearly impossible angle.  He was at the bottom of the right circle when he flipped a back-hander towards the goal.  Rinne misplayed it and couldn’t snare it with his glove.  It would end an extended scoring slump for him and be his 18th goal of the season.

We said the Detroit Red Wings would need to win the special teams battle tonight to have a chance.  The Preds power-play ranked 31st in the NHL going into tonight’s game and wouldn’t you know; they scored on one.  The Detroit Red Wings were able to get one of their own and spent plenty of time in the penalty box.

The Wings were able to kill off the other four times they were shorthanded including an extended five on three advantage.  The Wings only received two PP opportunities, so they were 50% successful tonight.  With the PPG and the solid PK work, they did win the special teams battle.  A stat no one will talk about is the faceoff percentage; the Wings were 60% in the dot as a group tonight, that’s terrific.

The Detroit Red Wings have a five-game win streak in Nashville.  For whatever reason, they like to play in Bridgestone Arena.  Anthony Mantha has been struggling of late, and Jeff Blashill bumped him up with Larkin tonight, and it seemed to wake the young power forward up.  Playing with Larkin forces Mantha to keep his feet moving, Larkin flies around every shift, and you’ve gotta skate to keep up with him.

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The Detroit Red Wings will look to build on tonights’ success and are back at it Thursday night when they host the Ottawa Senators.  Game time will be 7:30 pm.