The Red Wings performance on the road was well under par at Consol Energy Center Thursday night. Their three goals weren’t enough to stop Pittsburgh’s offensive barrage leading to a 6-3 loss. Phil Kessel got two goals on the night in the Penguins first game back home in over a week.
The Red Wings tried to recover from their loss on Monday against the Islanders where they gave New York took much time on possession with the puck. With the game against one of their key conference rivals, the Wings would look to have a little more power without Evgeni Malkin in the lineup for Pittsburgh.
His lower body injury came right when he was starting to score pucks into the net for his team. They’ll try to do well without him even with the knowledge of their victory against Detroit Dec. 31. Petr Mrazek got back into the net for Detroit hoping that his amazing skills as goaltender will help boost the offense.
They had a fight on their hands as the Penguins got their skating into high gear firing shots at Mrazek who did well in the early minutes of the period. Detroit’s best shooters started to get time in the offensive zone going against Marc Andre Fleury in net for Pittsburgh. After ten minutes the teams were high on the shots indicating someone was going to take the lead.
Ben Lovejoy got the Penguins on the board with a great wrister from the faceoff dot to the right of Mrazek recording his third of the season and first since Nov. 25. Detroit got even four minutes later with Andreas Anthanasiou earning an assist on his push through the Penguins defense. He passed the puck back to Gustav Nyquist who had Tomas Jurco on the wing rushing in on Fleury to score his fourth tying the game.
Matt Cullen who took over for Malkin on the second line got his seventh on a break down of Detroit’s defense behind the net. He took a shot at the Detroit netminder that bounced off the pads and back to his stick to give the Penguins the lead back with 3:13 left. By the time the period came to an end, Pittsburgh took 14 shots all while outdueling the Red Wing through 20 minutes.
They finished their power play in the second period with 16 seconds on the man advantage doing very little help. After completing two minutes, Detroit was hunting for the puck and got it with the help of Kyle Quincey. The defenseman set up Detroit leading scorer Dylan Larkin with a shot that gave him his 19th of the year on a drive that beat Fleury near the crease.
The Penguins didn’t let them celebrate long as Kessel returned the lead to his team with the big power forward scoring on great assistance from captain Sydney Crosby for his 30th. They continued to hold the lead and continue their attempts to get another on Mrazek. The 25 year old got focused making huge stops with clear ice in front of him trying to maintain a chance for his offense to reach.
They thought they had a good goal with 4:54 left but Abdelkader’s attempts in the crease were negated by officials who called interference on the Detroit forward. It would be one they wished they had as the Penguins attacked once again where Scott Wilson scored his first of the season with a secure lead after finishing two periods. So far they haven’t lost a game when leading after two periods but Detroit have their moments of third period comebacks in recent memory.
They started off the third looking well with efforts going against Fleury but the Penguins netminder continued to deny them any further goals. To make matters worse, the rebounds Pittsburgh got in the Detroit zone kept working in their favor. A shot from Olli Maatta went off the pad of Mrazek before Kessel skated in and got the puck around the left pad scoring his second of the night. It was the end of Mrazek’s night having stopped 27 shots. He was replaced by Jimmy Howard who hasn’t been better but would have to do what he could to stop them.
While he was focusing on the mission, Detroit’s first line tried to get their team back in it and fight for a great scoring chance. It came at the hands of the Euro twins with Abdelkader in tow. Pavel Datsyuk set up captain Henrik Zetterberg with a drive that ended Pittsburgh three goal streak putting the Red Wings within two.
The margin wouldn’t stay that way as time flew off the clock with Pittsburgh holding firm against Detroit’s push to tie the game. When they went for the empty net to get six attackers, every effort was killed off for the remaining minutes until there was little chance left for the Red Wings. The Penguins fought the puck away from them in the final minute to give Crosby a goal that put the nail in the coffin at 19:12. It was on the empty netter that gave him his 25th and a second straight win against Detroit.