A comeback for the Detroit Red Wings ended in heartbreak at Joe Louis Arena Friday night. Right Winger Linden Vey scored the game winner in the seventh round of the shootout giving the Vancouver Canucks a 4-3 win.
The Red Wings hope to get an edge over the Canucks a second time after beating them back on Oct. 24 where they made it out victorious in overtime. Vancouver comes into Detroit without Henrik Sedin who suffered a lower body injury during Thursday night’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. They are sitting on a three game losing streak hoping that they can do something without him.
Detroit started from scratch after blowing their 12 game points streak after losing in regulation to the Buffalo Sabres. Jimmy Howard got back into the net again after having a solid finish despite the loss against New Jersey. He and Detroit would try to work as one and give the Canucks a fifth shutout in their last ten games.
Vancouver didn’t want that to happen as they got the puck rolling gaining great scoring chances in the Red Wings zone taking six shots through five minutes. Knowing their current state, the Red Wings allowed the Canucks to play offense, until their time to strike appeared. Vancouver was getting warmer to firing one behind the net as Alexander Burrows took a point blank shot from the short side but was robbed by Howard with the quick glove.
While the defense continued to do work against the Canucks, Detroit had only shot three at goaltender Ryan Miller. It nearly cost them as a rush from Vancouver nearly had the lead on them as Howard lost sight of the puck. When he got back to the net he had to make a block with his stick on Bo Horvat who took a second try.
Although he failed to give his team the lead, the Canucks would eventually find the back of the net on a rush began with Jannik Hansen shooting the puck off the boards. The play ended with centerman Jared McCann firing a knuckler on the stick side of the net getting his seventh of the season. It would be the last move made by either team to close the first period. They outshot Detroit 17-5 as it might be a concern by the lack of shooting from the Red Wings.
The second saw both teams running well with the puck but when it came to firing on the net, the opportunities were scarce. Nine minutes passed and only four shots were taken with both teams each recording a pair. By the halfway point, it was Vancouver breaking away with further opportunities but dealing with Howard went forward as he still had them beat with the quick glove.
Detroit earned their opening power play of the game but their troubles didn’t improve on the man advantage. They paid the price against the resurgent Canucks who made it 2-0 four minutes later on a fast rush where Sven Baertschi scored his third of the season on a snap shot that Howard never saw fly by him.
With the final two minutes in play, Detroit wanted nothing more than to get on the board before things got serious in the third. With help from first line center Pavel Datsyuk, his teammate Joakim Andersson would be the one to put the puck behind Miller for his first of the season with 1:07 left. It was the lifesaver the Red Wings needed to stay within reach of the lead going into the third.
Just 3:30 into the period, the Red Wings evened the score with Datsyuk scoring the tying goal after fighting to get the puck away from the boards. He did well on the reception from Brendan Smith to score his third of the season. Just when it looked as if Detroit had things under control, the Canucks made them rethink their actions. Vancouver had great positioning around the Detroit net where Radim Vrbata scored the leading goal for his tenth. It was the team’s 32nd shot of the night as the will to win was alive and well in them.
The Red Wings had a deficit that needed to be cleared up but with a slow power play, things could go easy against the Canucks. They gained a third chance but it came in and out just as fast. Frustrations were starting to boil for Detroit as they had all their lines of shooting blocked by Vancouver.
To make matters worse, the Canucks gained their opening power play with a 4 on 3 advantage as Detroit committed back-to-back penalties. They nearly had a man back before Smith got called for a penalty putting three men in the box for Detroit. The Canucks sat on 5 on 3 for three minutes before the Red Wings managed to kill it all off.
They had little time to mess around as scoring the tying goal would allow them a chance to still win the game. Howard left the net with 98 seconds for the Red Wings to play six men in the Vancouver zone. A faceoff took place inside the Vancouver zone where the Red Wings would have a hero in their leader.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg got hold of the puck where he lifted it perfectly to hit the top center of the net to tie the game with 1:07 left. It was Zetterberg’s sixth of the year and the one that would put them back into familiar territory. This was the second time the two played 3 on 3 hockey and with Detroit with the leverage.
For the five-minute period, Detroit had strong control of the puck finding the game winner didn’t come easy. Their four shots on goal were all close but Miller played strong for Vancouver that led them and Detroit into a shootout.
It would be a battle after both team’s best shooters failed to beat the opposing goaltenders. By the third round it saw Detroit’s Brad Richards and Vancouver’s Vrbata scoring respectively. It would be a lone goal that would end it but it never came. Round after round passed with great players still left on either side. After six rounds and no clear winner, it was in the hands of Vey who went in on Howard and beat him over the blocker to win it for Vancouver.
Though he gained another loss, Howard couldn’t be disappointed with his performance as he stopped a total of 37 shots that included the seven in the shootout for a .925 save percentage. Miller ended a two game skid with a 28 save performance for his tenth win of the season. With the team’s losing streak over, the Canucks could try and get back to finding success in their game as they came into Detroit pushing for victory.