The Detroit Red Wings headed to Philadelphia looking to turn things around. Detroit lost a tough game at home against the Blues on Thursday and needed to bounce back. In their last five games, they have gone 1-4-0 and needed a win.
Alex Nedeljkovic got his first start in the net for the Wings in quite some time after being called up from Grand Rapids due to Ville Husso dealing with a lower-body injury. The Wings had lost both of their previous games this season against the Flyers, with one game at home and one in Philadelphia.
The first period started slow for the Wings until Adam Erne was the victim of what looked to be an intentional high stick and left the ice immediately with blood dripping from his face and did not return for the rest of the period. Unfortunately, the Wings could not convert on the double minor penalty. They had some good looks and put several shots on goal; they just couldn’t get one past Carter Hart.
Andrew Copp went to the box on a questionable hooking penalty. However, the Detroit Red Wings’ penalty-killing units were up to the task and kept the Flyers from cashing in on the opportunity. The Wings were not able to generate many scoring chances in the period outside of the power play. They gave up more chances to the Flyers, and Nedeljkovic was able to stop them all, keeping them in the game.
Nedeljkovic made a massive save on Kevin Hayes late in the first period to keep the score at zero. Hayes was sneaking up on the backdoor and caught a perfectly placed pass but had the door shut on him hard.
Shortly after that, the Wings allowed Joel Farabee in the crease on his own, and Nedeljkovic made another big stop. This was the Nedeljkovic that I remember thinking could be the top netminder for the Wings. Shots were 8 to 6 in favor of the Detroit Red Wings at the end of the period.
In the first minute of the second period, the Flyers committed a careless holding penalty putting the Wings on the power play. Unfortunately, the best chance on the power play went to the Flyers when the Wings allowed two guys on Nedeljkovic all alone, which he defended well, and they blew by missing the net. They were not able to score on the power play despite having some good looks, as Hart was up to the task.
After the power plays, the Wings were able to play pretty well, keeping pressure in the offensive zone and getting some good chances. Just past the halfway point of the period, the Flyers were able to open the scoring. The Flyers had some pressure on the Wings, and Kieffer Bellows buried a rebound off a shot on goal that Nedeljkovic had no chance to stop.
Erne knocked a puck out of the air with his stick that happened to go over the glass and put the Flyers on the power play that the Flyers did not score on. Then Gustav Lindstrom was sent to the box later in the period for a high sticking penalty. It was only after a Flyers penalty made it four on four that the Wings gave up another two-on-one breakaway Scott Laughton put a no-look bullet in the upper corner of the net to take a 2-0 lead to end the period with shots at 16 to 14 in favor of the Wings.
To start the third period, the Wings had just over half of a power play remaining and had a couple of good chances that did not end up in the back of the net. Jonatan Berggren had a great chance off a takeaway that Hart was able to stop. Otherwise, the first half of the third period did not go well for the Wings as they didn’t generate much offense, and when they did get their first odd-man rush of the game, Austin Czarnik chose to pass instead of shoot, and the puck was blocked and the chance blown.
The Wings then went on the power play on a hooking penalty just before the middle of the period and needed to get a goal. The highlight of the power play was Moritz Seider putting a big hit on Scott Laughton. This move ended up giving the Wings their best scoring chance of the game when Laughton put a nasty slash on Seider when he was coming down the ice, and on the delayed penalty, there was a frenzy in the Flyers zone. The puck came so close to going in a couple of times.
The resulting power play generated a lot of scoring chances, and the Wings did everything but score a goal. Not long after, the Detroit Red Wings pulled the goalie and made a big push to save the game, only to eventually give up an empty net goal. The Wings had some chances to score in the game, and Hart was there every time to stop them. Credit to Carter Hart for playing an outstanding game. He was able to stop all 29 shots on goal from the Wings.
Alex Nedeljkovic played a good game for the Detroit Red Wings.
Nedeljkovic is not having the season he or anyone else expected. It was good to see him get a start after coming in for the second half of the previous game. He looked solid all game, and the goals that he did give up were not bad ones, and he did his job. I always feel bad when Nedeljkovic plays a good game, and the team can’t score a goal to save their lives.
It was the outing that he needed as his current contract is expiring this season, and he will likely be looking for a new home next season unless he has an exceptional end to this season. I hope that he continues to get starts in the remaining games this season if Husso is still not playing.
With the playoffs out of reach at this point, I feel it would be best to give Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg the starts for the rest of the season and let them battle for the backup spot next season. This would allow Husso time to heal up and be his best when he returns.