The Red Wings had the Devils standing in their way of a winning streak Tuesday night. Three goals in the first period were too much for Detroit to recover on as they were handed a 4-3 loss at Joe Louis Arena.
Before the Red Wings could celebrate the holiday season, they would have to face the Devils on ice and try to keep their recent luck alive. Detroit won their 800th game at The Joe defeating the Calgary Flames by a large margin. Solid offense and great goaltending from Petr Mrazek had him stopping 26 on Calgary while the Red Wings defense fought to kill off chances late in the game.
With Detroit in reach of the lead in the Atlantic Division, a chance to be tied for first place would be a Christmas present they could enjoy. The Devils would have to pick up the slack as forward Patrik Elias sits out because of a recurring knee injury. Elias was out for the start of the season due to the injury sitting out for the first time since Nov. 25. They managed to win in overtime just 11 days ago against Detroit hoping to do so once again.
The Red Wings showed some stability in the first period fighting for the lead in the opening minutes against goaltender Cory Schneider. They got six good shots on the Devils netminder but each attempt was coming up short. By the midpoint of the period, the Red Wings recorded six shots on goal before receiving their first power play. It was short lived as they committed a penalty 37 seconds later. It would cost them on a loss of possession as Kyle Palmieri gained control. He fired a shot off the boards before it came back to him in time to score his 14th on the backhander behind Jimmy Howard.
Things got bleak real fast as the Devils made it 2-0 42 seconds after Palmieri’s goal where a redirect from Jordan Tootoo gave him his third. It was just their fifth shot on net as Detroit had already fired ten in the New Jersey zone. The deficit went to three with David Schlemko scoring his third on a great pass from Palmieri at 14:17. Howard was pulled off the ice, as coach Jeff Blashill saw enough from his goalie. Mrazek came into replace him sending fans into a cheer hoping that he could stop the bleeding while his offense covered the current spread.
They began doing so by going on the power play in the final two minutes having the best chance to recover before the period ended. Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg got it started with Niklas Kronwall in tow.
The two veterans were on the play that ended with Dylan Larkin firing the puck with a wrister that hit the top shelf giving him 13 on the year 30 seconds into the man advantage. With that putting them into the game, their 13 shots on goal meant a whole lot more with two still to play.
Detroit made good of it but had to fight for possession early on as the Devils were trying to show a hold on their lead. After going 4 on 4 for the first two minutes, Detroit gave them a power play that had them going in for some shots on Mrazek. The netminder kept things clear on his end helping Detroit move the action in their favor. It was a long time before they would find any time to shoot, as the Devils were on them tight.
An opportunity from the Red Wings came again with a man advantage 12 minutes in where they wasted no time scoring a goal. After 29 seconds on the advantage, Detroit caught a bad turnover from Andy Greene that Mike Green got hold of in the Red Wings zone. He went in on Schneider scoring his second of the season on a drive that put his team within a goal of leveling the score.
Before the second period came to a close, Justin Abdelkader got in it once again; this time going after Damon Severson as he though the Michigan native ran into Schneider. The fight ended with Abdelkader getting the best of the youngster from Saskatchewan before officials broke them apart. With the heat between the teams on high, the third period was going to be a close fought battle with a goal separating the two.
For New Jersey, they still had time to increase the chances of winning on the road and did it in the first three minutes of the third. A miscue from the Red Wings gave the Devils two shots to the net where the rebound went in off a shot from Sergey Kalinin giving him his fifth.
With the score at 4-2, it was going to be a fight between the Red Wings and time, as they would need to cover the two-goal spread quickly in order to force overtime at the least. In typical Red Wings fashion, they got within a goal with six minutes left on the stick of Riley Sheahan who hadn’t scored in 16 games. He made it happen with an unassisted snap shot on Schneider picking up his fourth.
Time was still winding down, and with 100 seconds left; Coach Blashill decided to pull Mrazek from the net to give the Red Wings six attackers. Kronwall took a penalty with 58 seconds left putting them in a rough situation. In the end it would be the Devils who would hang on in the final seconds to get a second straight win against Detroit.
Schneider had more to celebrate with the victory, as it became his 15th of the year stopping 25 shots through the 60-minute match. For Mrazek, he got the brunt of the loss making 10 saves on 11 shots for a sixth defeat.
Howard was feeling the loss much worse than his counterpart as he managed to stop just three of six shots in 14 minutes of play. With him needing to find some consistency, Detroit would need time to clear their minds before playing on the road for three games beginning with the Nashville Predators on Saturday.