Nearly two years after their last meeting, the Vancouver Canucks visited Little Ceasars Arena for a faceoff with the Detroit Red Wings. After an offensive explosion but disappointing loss in overtime to the defending cup champions, the Detroit Red Wings looked to regroup. However Detroit lost more than just their last game, their captain Dylan Larkin served a one game suspension from his altercation with Joseph and was unavailable against the Canucks. Meanwhile Vancouver comes in to Detroit to play their second game in as many days. Their win the night before was in a shootout over the Flyers.
You would expect after coming off a long, late game then traveling to Detroit that Vancouver would have had a sluggish start. This was far from the case as they controlled the neutral zone early. They even showed off some speed and a couple close chances on breakaways. Detroit did themselves no favors by struggling to enter their offensive zone cleanly. Between intercepted passes and missed passes causing icing they struggled to have any sustained pressure. Even with Canucks controlling the game, the Wings took the early lead. Robby Fabbri opened the scoring, deflecting Marc Staal’s shot past Jaroslav Halak.
As the second period got underway, the Canucks continued to show they wanted to and could control the game. Vancouver struck next, Conor Garland fired a shot from a tight angle that bounced off the mask of Thomas Greiss. Shortly after Filip Zadina scored a power play goal off a one timer. As the period came to an end the Red Wings increased the pressure. A power play to close out the period helped as they moved the puck well and played in the offensive zone. Sadly for them, the horn sounded before they could get it in the back of the net.
For the final frame of regular time, the Canucks appeared to do what they could to get under the skin of the Wings. Finishing off checks a little harder, they also pitched the puck into the back of the net after the whistle. As the period progressed the aggression peaked. Detroit carried a great team attitude, and stepped up to defend their own after a check to the head took Zadina out of the game for a short time. Vancouver continued an onslaught, and kept the pressure on Greiss. As time dwindled, Halak made his way to the bench. After some impressive saves from Greiss, Sam Gagner of the Red Wings was finally able to clear the zone and score an empty netter. This goal lifted them to a 3-1 lead, and after a few more moments time expired. Two points earned by Detroit.
The Detroit Red Wings were the more spirited team and that helped carry them to a victory. It appears that Larkin’s response and willingness to fight back and protect himself carried over to the rest of the team. This is back to back games the Wings did not step away from a fight. It really appears they want to send a message to the league that they are ready to play. If that kind of attitude continues, they could be a big surprise after the past couple seasons of struggles. Goaltending was a big key to this win. Greiss was the real standout of the game, making 40 saves and in the heat of the game made some monster saves. Their penalty kill was a big issue last game, and even though they successfully killed all three, there is some holes to work on.
Even with this loss there are a lot of positives for the Canucks. Their ability to control the puck, keep pressure on the goal and keep a body in front of the netminder was good. Even without capitalizing on the power plays, they gave themselves some very good looks. The speed the carried down the length of the ice made it difficult to slow their entry to the zone. Vancouver was able to keep up pace most the game, even with the late night before. Another positive for them was their ability to get under the skin of the Wings. Unfortunately the Wings appeared to play even better when things got gritty.
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