Detroit’s first game back home proved to be high suspenseful but remained lucrative for the Red Wings. Their 4-0 lead at one point nearly got covered by the Montreal Canadiens but Anthony Mantha’s game winner held up for a 4-3 win at Joe Louis Arena Thursday night.
The Red Wings sit out of the wild card spots in the Eastern Conference after they took a brutal beating from the Tampa Bay Lightning two nights ago. While they are tied with the Flyers who lost their own game that night, Philadelphia has a game up on Detroit, which leaves things tense in Hockeytown. They had a good chance of defeating the Montreal Canadiens who are out of playoff contention.
The Habs are still riddled with injuries including defenseman P.K. Subban who was out once again due to a neck injury. Subban was nearly done for the season after suffering a freak accident on ice. He returned, but his absence leaves them very much in trouble of dropping one against the Red Wings who they have been strong against in the past. David Desharnais got back on the lineup after missing 17 games with a broken foot. Despite the problems Montreal faces, they’ll try to play party crasher for Detroit who is trying very hard to secure their 25th consecutive playoff appearance.
The Habs almost had a goal with Lars Eller sending it in on a drive but as Tomas Plekanec scored the goal, the play was whistled dead due to Plekanec getting called for cross checking. After an official review, the goal was negated and sent the Red Wings to their first power play.
When Plekanec got out he nearly had another shot at Petr Mrazek who was back in net for Detroit. After dealing with the quick challenge from Montreal, things started to settle down between the teams. The Red Wings earned another man advantage midway through the period but didn’t make much of it blowing their second in a row.
They still had plenty of time to get something going and did it at the tail end of the period where the whole line participated setting up Riley Sheahan with a shot next of Ben Scrivens scoring his tenth of the year. The last minute of play went in the books with Montreal outshooting the Red Wings 13-11.
The start of the second belonged to Detroit, as they got right back to work where they left on trying to get the puck moving. Detroit’s Brendan Smith and Montreal’s Stefan Matteau got in each other’s faces after Smith sent his shoulder into the jaw of Matteau. Phillip Danault went after the Red Wings defenseman sending both to the box for roughing.
It took some time but at 5:36 Luke Glendening came in to score his seventh of the season as they moved the puck causing Montreal plenty of confusion around their crease. The Red Wings made it 3-0 just 12 seconds later with Sheahan scoring his second of the game going in 1 on 3 against the Habs before dekeing out Scrivens.
The game returned to even strength for a time but the Red Wings were surging high on shots to the net. Everyone on the Detroit bench got into the binge of shooting at the Montreal net. In the late stages of the period on Detroit’s fourth power play, Brad Richards sent the puck flying at Scrivens. It rebounded to Mantha who got his stick on the puck and tapped it into the far end of the net scoring the first of his career.
Andreas Anthanasiou tried to get another goal to his name but watched Scrivens glove the puck. Despite his inability to notch one for himself, their 4-0 rout through 40 minutes clearly had them doing their best at a time where holding back the Canadiens in the third was the main mission.
When the period began, it was a bad beat for Mrazek as Plekanec took a shot on goal that bounced over the shoulder the Red Wings netminder before sliding into the net ending the veteran forward’s 19 game drought. The Habs scored a second unanswered where another rebound got in position for Paul Byron to score his tenth.
Things got worrisome for Detroit as their lead took another toll with Montreal captain Max Pacioretty firing a shot from the slot that redirected off of Mrazek’s skate and into the net for their third unanswered. Detroit got desperate with 11 minutes left in the game to regain a larger margin over Montreal or face the fear of the Habs tying it.
Detroit attacked Scrivens hard but couldn’t get another goal behind him. The defensive acts on the Habs netminder gave his team a huge opportunity to continue their quest for a comeback with eight minutes to go. Time was working for both teams but as quickly fell off, it was Montreal still looking for the tying goal that would push the game into overtime.
The Habs pulled Scrivens from the net with more than a minute to go but it did them no good even when they got a power play with 14 seconds on the clock. God defense by the Detroit line including Mrazek’s lockdown of the net earned them a huge victory.
In Mrazek’s return since March. 15, he kept the game in Detroit’s hands stopping 25 of 28 for a .893 save percentage. Scrivens was also impressive on his end in the finals minutes despite losing the game. He witnessed 40 shots from the Red Wings where he saved 36 of them for a .900 save percentage. He’ll remain in goal for the Habs as long as it takes for them to end the season. Detroit would celebrate the much needed two points on the night before hosting the Pittburgh Penguins for a Saturday matinee.