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Red Wings-Penguins wrap-up: Wings fall short due to bad power play, execution

The Red Wings dropped a 4-1 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, and the Wings also lost Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm to lower-body injuries during the course of the game, so the Wings will look a little different against goaltender Jeff Glass and the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday (12:30 PM EST start on NBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), with the Wings having recalled Dominic Turgeon from Grand Rapids.

The Red Wings' opponents killd 6 of 7 Detroit power plays, witnessed a 4-point performance from Evgeni Malkin, a 3-point performance from Phil Kessel, a 2-point performance from Sidney Crosby and a 29-stop performance from Tristan Jarry in goal.

Despite having lost goaltender Matt Murray to "personal issues," the Penguins ran on all cylinders, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Jonathan Bombulie noted:

Perched in his locker stall between crowds of reporters trying to interview stars du jour Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel on Saturday afternoon, winger Carl Hagelin said six magic words Penguins fans have been waiting for and opponents have dreaded.

“Maybe we just turned the switch,” Hagelin said.

Malkin, Kessel and Sidney Crosby combined for four goals and nine points as the Penguins ran their winning streak to three games with a dominant 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at PPG Paints Arena.

It's by far the best stretch of play this season for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, who have been limping along on the fringes of the Eastern Conference playoff picture more or less since training camp ended.

They're employing the fast, aggressive style that has become their trademark, and they've moved into a tie with the New York Rangers for fourth place in the Metropolitan Division.

“You can tell guys are more enthusiastic at the rink,” Hagelin said. “Guys are moving. We're bringing more energy every day. That's the type of team we need to be. The plan is to keep doing it.”

Evgeni Malkin put things simply:

“It's always fun when you're winning,” Malkin said. “You have more confidence. Your game is better. The mood is better. Now you're feeling so much better.”

As Bombulie noted, the Penguins' penalty-kill "got a workout" on Saturday...

The Penguins shut down six of seven Detroit power plays en route to a 4-1 victory over the Red Wings at PPG Paints Arena, continuing a run of special teams success that has lasted more than a month.

The Penguins gave up two power-play goals in five of six games in a brutal stretch in the middle of November. Since, their penalty kill has a 91.3 percent success rate, tops in the Eastern Conference.

“I think we had a couple good meetings,” winger Carl Hagelin said. “Sometimes it's a thin line between doing good and doing bad on the PK. It's a matter of blocking shots. I think more importantly, we're being more aggressive and winning more battles. Before, we had some bad clears, and usually they score on that second opportunity. We're not giving them as much.”

Hagelin led the team with more than eight minutes of shorthanded ice time Saturday. Riley Sheahan, Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin topped the seven-minute mark.

“They're hard minutes,” Hagelin said. “I think it's good coming back off the break. Get a good workout, I guess.”

And Jarry was excellent:

Rookie goalie Tristan Jarry bounced back from his worst NHL start, a five-goal, 14-save showing in 6-5 Penguins overtime win over Boston last Sunday, with a solid 29-save effort against the Red Wings.

“I think it was a good rebound,” Jarry said. “I just wanted to come back and play a solid game. I think I was able to limit the chances, keep my rebounds tight, and I think that was something that was able to help me tonight.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Jason Mackey asked the Penguins why they're so good coming out of schedule breaks...

Since [coach Mike] Sullivan took over in December 2015, the Penguins have come back from Christmas three times, plus two All-Star Games and two bye weeks. They’re 7-0. And they’ve won those games by a combined 33-17.

They used a strong effort Saturday to notch their fourth win in five tries and generate some feel-good vibes around the dressing room.

“Everyone takes care of themselves and knows that those games aren’t always easy,” Crosby said when asked to explain the success. “The execution might not be there, but you can use that rest and energy to your advantage.

“We try to prepare as best we can, just like any other team, but getting a couple wins and feeling good about ourselves going into the break certainly helps.”

Speaking on the matter before the game, Sullivan emphasized such things as a “competitive mindset” and matching the “intensity” that’s necessary to win.

Check and check. The Penguins will try and make it 8-0 on Jan. 30 against the Sharks, their first game back after the 2018 All-Star break.

“There was so much to like about our game,” Sullivan said. “I loved our energy. I loved our commitment. I thought we were competing on pucks. I thought we were quick to pucks. When our team does that, I think that’s when we’re at our best.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Sam Werner noted that the Penguins' top guns are finding their collective and individual strides...

When guys like Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby are clicking on all cylinders — as they were against Detroit Saturday afternoon — the Penguins are awfully tough to beat.

That trio combined for nine points, and all three scored goals, as the Penguins beat the Red Wings, 4-1, in their first game back off the NHL’s mandated “bye week.”

The win was the Penguins’ third in a row, tying their second-longest winning streak of the season.

Since the calendar flipped to 2018, the Penguins have won four out of five games. In that stretch, Crosby and Malkin have 10 points apiece, and Kessel has eight.

Those three have also helped power a red-hot Penguins power play, which scored twice Saturday. During the five games in 2018, the power-play has converted on seven of 14 attempts.

And among PittsburghPenguins.com's Sam Kassan's "Snap Shots":

* After dropping out of a playoff spot, the Pens talked about the need to string wins together. The Pens won 3 of 4 games, including back-to-back victories, heading into the bye week. It appeared the club might be turning a corner and the week off came at an inopportune time. However, Pittsburgh carried that momentum into a much-needed win against Detroit.

* The two-headed Monster is alive and feeding. Malkin and Crosby combined for 3 goals and 6 points against the Red Wings. In the past 3 games the duo has combined for 17 points (7G-10A). Not coincidently, all 3 games were Pittsburgh victories.

Malkin had 2 goals and 4 points tonight. Both goals came from the slot with Malkin just ripping them.

Crosby had the pass of the game to find a streaking Phil Kessel at the side of the net on a power play. It was a hard pass that was placed perfectly on Kessel's tape for a re-direct goal. In fact, I would even say Crosby banked it off of Kessel's stick.

On his goal, Crosby lifted the stick of Frans Nielsen in order to receive a pass in the slot. He then buried. You don't expect to see stick lifts in the NHL.

Evgeni Malkin will pick up the narrative from there, via NHL.com's Wes Crosby...

"It's always fun when you win and you have more confidence," Malkin said. "Your game is better. The mood is better. Now, we're feeling so much better. It's like we start playing so much better on the power play, the PK and special teams too. Now, just stay the same and stay on the same level. I just play my game. A couple lucky goals and the power play worked tonight too. … I feel so much more confident."

Malkin has five goals and eight points in his past three games.

Kessel had three points (one goal, two assists), Sidney Crosby had two (one goal, one assist) and Tristan Jarry made 29 saves in his third straight start after allowing five goals on 19 shots before being pulled on Sunday.

"I thought we were moving our feet," Crosby said. "I thought the last few games, we've played pretty fast and executed well. So, I thought we did that. … I don't think you can take anything for granted."

The Penguins (23-19-3) have won three straight games after losing nine of their previous 14 (5-9-0). They held the Red Wings (17-18-7), who had won four of their past five games (4-1-0) entering Saturday, to 1-for-7 on the power play.

"Our power play has to be better," Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "We had a lot of opportunities. I know we got one, but in the first, I think we had four opportunities and you want to get some more out of it. … If you look at it, their best players were better than our best players tonight. I think if you go down to it, they score. They took care of business on the power play. We didn't."

The AP's recap will serve as our pivot point between the Penguins and Red Wings' perspectives...

"I think we've felt good about our last couple games going into the break," Crosby said. "I don't think we rest on that. I think we try to continue to get better."

Justin Abdelkader scored for the Red Wings, who lost their second straight after a four-game winning streak. Jimmy Howard made 32 saves after missing one game with a lower-body injury.

Detroit went 1 for 7 on the power play. Pittsburgh was 2 for 5.

"If you look at it, their best players were better than our best players," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "I think if you go down to it, they score. They took care of business on the power play and we didn't."

Malkin opened the scoring 3:01 into the first game for each team since their five-day break. Carl Hagelin, from behind the net, fed the puck in the slot to Malkin, who beat Howard to the glove side.

The teams traded power-play goals later in the period.

Abdelkader tied it with a shot between Jarry's pads and Kessel gave Pittsburgh the lead when he one-touched a Crosby pass behind Howard from in close. The Penguins, the No. 1 unit in the league, have 12 power-play goals in their last 10 games.

Detroit had just one power-play goal in its previous seven games entering Saturday's contest.

Nw it's two goals in eight games, and that's one of the many reasons that the Red Wings shouldn't have blown Saturday's game, as they told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

It was the second consecutive loss for the Red Wings (17-18-7, 41 points), who ended the first half with a loss to league-leading Tampa Bay.

“It’s tough leaving points out there,” said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who returned with 32 saves after missing one game to a knee injury. “We’re desperate to get wins. We need points every single night and we have to find a way to do that.”

The Red Wings can’t say they didn’t have opportunities against the Penguins. The Red Wings had a staggering seven power plays and converted only once, Justin Abdelkader scoring his eighth goal, in the first period, tying the game 1-1.

“If we were able to get one early it would have been a lot different,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “We had our chances 5-on-5, too; we had some real Grade-A chances and we turned them into Grade-D chances. We tried to make another play.”

Abdelkader suffered a lower-body injury, according to the team, and missed the third period, as did Darren Helm, who suffered a right leg injury. Coach Jeff Blashill said both players will not be available for Sunday’s game in Chicago. After the game the Red Wings called up forward Dominic Turgeon from Grand Rapids.

Blashill said there wasn’t enough of a shoot-first mentality from the Red Wings Saturday.

“We have to shoot the puck; we had opportunities to shoot the puck and we didn’t,” Blashill said. “Our power play has to be better. Our shooting mentality has to be better. The Zetterberg unit, when they were in the zone, were good, but we had trouble getting into the zone. The (Dylan) Larkin unit was discombobulated the whole night. They weren’t on the same page whatsoever. We have to be better than that. You get a chance to have an impact on the game.”

A lot of that is on Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Larkin and Martin Frk, who've truly struggled on the power play, and Mantha in particular has been flat in all situations of late. He's going to have to pick things up or his bobblehead night on Tuesday will be a dud.

The Wings understand that they're in trouble, as Frans Nielsen told Kulfan...

“We’re just not in position where we can go and hope we didn’t miss a step (coming back) from the break,” forward Frans Nielsen said. “We had to come out here and play the right way and we didn’t do that.”

And Nielsen continued while speaking with the Free Press's Helene St. James:

“We got outworked, out-skated,” Frans Nielsen said. “Coming back from a break, both teams — they played the right way. They were simple, they were getting pucks to the net, they didn’t force things too much. And we came out and tried to do too much.”

Nowhere was the difference between the teams more disparate than on special teams: The Wings went 1-for-7 through 12:20 of power-play time. The Penguins went 2-for-5 in 6:58.

The Wings were on their sixth power play before the game’s midpoint, when it was 3-1.

“If we were to get one or two early there, it would have been a lot different, but we didn’t,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “But then also, when we got our chances, even 5-0-5, I thought we really had some Grade A chances we turned into Grade D chances ourselves. Instead of putting the puck towards the goalie, shooting the puck when we have a chance to score, we tried to make another play.”

Coach Jeff Blashill faulted the team’s shooting mentality and power play.

“That was the difference in the game,” he said. “We have to shoot the puck. We had tons of opportunities to shoot the puck and we didn’t. So then when you don’t, first of all usually when you shoot it, you get it back. Second of all, you don’t create any chaos. In the first period, we had tons of chances to shoot it and in the second, we had an unreal 4-on-2 rush and we decided to go behind the back. We have to be a shoot-first-mentality-type team. Our power play has to be better, and our shooting mentality has to be better.”

Hockeybuzz's Bob Duff asked a question that may be required at this point...

“We’ve got to be a shoot-first mentality type team and we weren’t tonight,” Blashill said.

The fact of the matter is that more often than not, the Wings aren’t that type of team, which leads to another question that needs to be addressed - do they suit up enough of the personnel required to play the sort of game their coach desires?

And DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji noted that the Red Wings lost two of their more consistent players (for better or worse, I suppose) in Abdelkader and Helm due to what looked like groin and knee injuries, respectively:

Justin Abdelkader: Last year was not the year that Abdelkader wanted, both team-wise and personally. Abdelkader dealt with a knee injury and was not quite the same after he returned. During the Wings' third power play in the first period against the Penguins, Abdelkader drove to the net and backhanded a rebound of Tomas Tatar's shot past Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry at 13:36. It was the first power-play goal the Penguins had allowed in eight games and snapped a 19-for-19 stretch for their penalty kill. The goal was Abdelkader's eighth in 41 games, one more than he had in 64 games last season. The team announced that Abdelkader had suffered a lower-body injury and would not return to the game. The team also lost Darren Helm to a lower-body injury in the third period and he did not return.

Quotable: "I can't tell you what happened, I just know Justin and Helmer both left the game and I don't expect them to be available tomorrow. I don't have lots of information on it. I think it's a lower-body injury. I knew as soon as we got done here, we made some initial contact to look for somebody from GR. Most likely one player from Grand Rapids. I don't know who yet but we started the process." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill


Highlights: NHL.com posted a 4:07 highlight clip:

[edit: NHL.com also posted an 8:58 "Condensed game":

/end edit]

Post-game: The Penguins' website posted clips of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Tristan Jarry and coach Mike Sullivan's post-game comments;

Fox Sports Detroit posted a clip of Henrik Zetterberg's post-game comments...

Jimmy Howard's post-game comments...

And coach Jeff Blashill's post-game interview with John Keating:

The Red Wings posted a clip of comments from Zetterberg, Jimmy Howard, Frans Nielsen and coach Blashill:

The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a clip of comments by Nielsen, Martin Frk and coach Blashill:

Photos: The Free Press posted a 7-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted an 8-image gallery;

ESPN posted a 19-image gallery;

And NHL.com and the Red Wings' website posted 26-image galleries.


Here's the Game Summary...

And the Event Summary

Final shot attempts were 68-55 Pittsburgh.


Red Wings notebooks and also of Red Wings-related note: DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji took note of the Wings' recall of Dominic Turgeon...

Turgeon, 21, was Detroit's third-round pick, 63rd overall, in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Wings' assistant general manager Ryan Martin had high praise for Turgeon when he appeared on the Wings' podcast, The Red and White Authority, on Thursday.

"Dom Turgeon has had a great second year," Martin said. "There's a guy that in March of his last year of junior hockey, he had a shoulder injury where the surgery put him on the sideline 'til August so he really couldn't hit the gym until August. So the fact that he came in last year and he was penciled in as sort of our 13th or 14th forward, he ended up earning a spot in the opening night lineup and never lost it.

"It's a real credit to him, he was able to knock a veteran out of his job to the point where the veteran, who was on a minor league deal, he left and went to Germany halfway through the year because he wasn't playing anymore because Dom had taken his job. I think his story has been great, he's had a tremendous year in terms of his production. He has 22 points in 39 games so that's a career high for him and he's definitely trending upwards."

Turgeon has nine goals and 14 assists in 40 games with the Griffins. He had six goals and 12 assists in 71 games with the Griffins last season. If Turgeon plays, he will be making his NHL debut.

Among the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's notes:

Focus on speed: Saturday’s game was the 42nd on the Red Wings schedule – the start of the second half. Blashill wants his players to focus on speed.

“What can separate us from other teams in the league is our speed,” Blashill said. “We have to use our speed to play to our identity and use our speed to create great pressure around the ice.”

Feeling refreshed: Saturday’s game followed the league-mandated five-day break for the Red Wings. A key for any team coming of a long break like that, said Blashill, is trying to maintain positive habits it had built.

“What you lose a little bit is your detail when you haven’t practiced,” Blashill said. “Some of your detail and habits. You have to make sure you zero-in on details. You don’t want to give up any easy chances because your detail isn’t as tight as it needs to be.”

Zetterberg said the timing of a team might be tested after a bye – but no one is complaining.

“We feel refreshed,” Zetterberg said. “Legs were good. A little bit of the hand-eye (coordination) was off but the brain was refreshed. We like the breaks.”

The Free Press's Helene St. James found that the Red Wings have told Martin Frk to keep shooting:

As the Detroit Red Wings picked up again post bye-week with a Saturday matinee against the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena, there was a focus on encouraging forward Martin Frk to keep shooting the puck.

There was a scary incident in the last game before the break when Frk fired a slap shot that hit Tampa Bay defenseman Dan Girardi so hard, Girardi dropped and lay motionless for several minutes. Girardi turned out to be OK - tests were negative, but it looked scary.

“It’s something I don’t want to see,” Frk told the Free Press. “He went to block the shot and I shot it a little higher, and it was too bad I hit him in the neck. I did send him texts and ask him how he is doing, and he said he is good and he will be in the lineup soon. So it is good to hear that.”

When Frk had a clear slap-shot opportunity in the first period, he didn’t hesitate to shoot. He finished with three shots in the 4-1 loss.

Coach Jeff Blashill spoke with Frk before the Pittsburgh game.

“The biggest thing I’ve said to Marty is, first of all, that shot is what’s gotten you in the NHL, so, make sure you stay in the NHL with that shot,” Blashill said. "The second thing is, as we’ve been working with him lots for four years, is make sure we hit the net. That puck wasn’t going to hit the net, so let’s make sure we hit the net as much as possible. If he hits the net, it creates such chaos because it’s such a hard shot. So let’s keep working on hitting the net.”

And among the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Jonathan Bombulie's notes:

Evgeni Malkin labored to the bench in obvious pain after taking a cross-check to the midsection from Detroit's Dylan Larkin in the second period Saturday.

Afterwards, Malkin said there were no hard feelings.

“It's not really dirty, but I lose my breath for 10, 20 seconds,” Malkin said. “I go to the bench, sit for a little bit in the back and it's fine. We talked after. He said he didn't see me, just protecting himself. It's OK.”

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


ilovehomers's avatar

“We have to shoot the puck; we had opportunities to shoot the puck and we didn’t,” Blashill said. “Our power play has to be better. Our shooting mentality has to be better. The Zetterberg unit, when they were in the zone, were good, but we had trouble getting into the zone. The (Dylan) Larkin unit was discombobulated the whole night. They weren’t on the same page whatsoever. We have to be better than that. You get a chance to have an impact on the game.”

A lot of that is on Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Larkin and Martin Frk, who’ve truly struggled on the power play, and Mantha in particular has been flat in all situations of late. He’s going to have to pick things up or his bobblehead night on Tuesday will be a dud.

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/13/18 at 09:06 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

“It’s a real credit to him, he was able to knock a veteran out of his job to the point where the veteran, who was on a minor league deal, he left and went to Germany halfway through the year because he wasn’t playing anymore because Dom had taken his job

Great anecdote here.

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/13/18 at 09:09 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

I watched the game, and it was painful. The Red Wings were lucky to only lose by 3 goals. The PP is still horrible, and as usual the Red Wings make one pass too many. shock

Posted by bigfrog on 01/13/18 at 10:47 PM ET

PierreC's avatar

no more hard and intense game…we can’t do that. We have to be intense like a bunch of nutcases till the end of this season.

...and sorry again i feel like saying that Mantha needs a kick in the butt. They gave him Larks and AA early in the game and he couldnt match the intensity of the other two. Then Blashill had no choice but to send him back to Z, the only one who can make him going….

I fear for Mantha’s future with the Wings…

and by the way..did they ask Lil Bert to get a place a bit too early ?

I told you guys that it was a bit premature when it happened, now his TOI is shrinking dra

Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 01/14/18 at 12:40 AM ET

PierreC's avatar


Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 01/14/18 at 12:41 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.