The Detroit Red Wings needed to turn the tide after dropping four of their previous five games, including a 7-2 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. They did just that with their 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins this afternoon.
Petr Mrazek did a great job when tasked with providing Jimmy Howard with a game off. The 23-year-old goalie turned aside 42 of 43 shots, including a 19 shot barrage in the second frame. Forward Teemu Pulkkinen, 23, also proved to be a big factor with two goals, including the game winner at 18:06 of the second period:
Defenseman Marek Zidlicky assisted on that marker and finished the contest with a game-high three points to extend his scoring streak to three contests. Since being acquired from the New Jersey Devils, the 38-year-old defenseman has stepped up with three goals and four assists in seven games.
As much as Detroit did a lot of things right today, this was also one that the Penguins let slip away. Pittsburgh played an undisciplined game and accumulated 64 penalty minutes to Detroit’s 14. The staggering differential was largely due to incidents between Pittsburgh and the officials themselves.
“Yesterday we lost two of our key players [Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby],” Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said, per the Penguins’ Twitter feed. “Today we lost our composure.”
If there was a silver lining for Pittsburgh, it’s that Crosby was able to return from an illness and went on to collect an assist in 22:02 minutes of ice time. At the same time, Pittsburgh lost forward Patric Hornqvist to an injury that Johnston felt “looked bad when he came off the ice.” He’ll need to be evaluated Monday.
Pittsburgh has now lost three of its last four games going into Tuesday’s contest against the Devils.
No one has surpassed the 200 penalty minute mark with the Pittsburgh Penguins since Rick Tocchet and Ulf Samuelsson did so in 1992-93 (252 and 249 PIM respectively). Then the Penguins signed Steve Downie to a one-year contract.
Downie went into Sunday’s game with a league-leading 199 penalty minutes in 60 contests. He became the first player this season to get over 200 minutes by pushing a linesman, which resulted in a 10-minute misconduct:
The 27-year-old forward also got two minutes for cross checking late in the second period and another 10-minute misconduct in the third frame.
Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang were handed 10-minute and game misconducts respectively. Kunitz shot a puck at a referee following the first period, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe while Letang was booted for arguing with an official.
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury only survived 27:44 minutes against the Detroit Red Wings. Given the 4-0 score in favor of Detroit at the time Fleury was yanked, it’s hard to fault Penguins coach Mike Johnston for wanting to change things up.
It’s also hard to blame that score on Fleury.
The Penguins have played an undisciplined game, which led to the Red Wings enjoying an extended 5-on-3 advantage that Marek Zidlicky took advantage of 39 seconds into the second period. Then there’s the Henrik Zetterberg goal he was pulled for, which was arguably the result of poor defensive work rather than an error on Fleury’s part:
The first goal would have been a tough one for Fleury to stop given that it was a tip in by Riley Sheahan. Perhaps the marker that could be most pinned on Fleury was Teemu Pulkkinen’s blast late in the second period:
At the same time, this is the second straight game that Fleury has allowed four goals following Pittsburgh’s 6-4 win over Edmonton on Thursday.
NBC has a matinee game set to start at 12:30 p.m. ET. The Detroit Red Wings will be looking to bounce back after suffering a humbling 7-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. They’ll catch a bit of a break against Pittsburgh as Evgeni Malkin is out due to a lower-body injury, per the Penguins’ Twitter feed. Sidney Crosby (illness) will take part in the pregame warmups, but is still regarded as a game-time decision.
Pittsburgh is within striking distance of the second seed in the Metropolitan Division and the first round home-ice advantage that would come with it. By contrast Detroit needs to stop the bleeding before it potentially slips down to a Wild Card spot.
In addition to NBC, you can watch the game via Live Sports Extra:
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Here are some relevant reading material:
NHL on NBC: Slumping Wings hope to take advantage of wounded Penguins
Zetterberg hopes Red Wings have hit ‘rock bottom’
Sidney Crosby on his down year: ‘I wouldn’t change anything I’m doing’
The Nashville Predators have been cold lately, but they picked up a big win against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. James Neal wasn’t on the ice for Nashville though as he’s dealing with an upper-body injury that’s believed to be the result of cumulative strain rather than a recent event, per The Tennessean.
Neal, who also missed Saturday’s morning skate, is regarded as day-to-day. The one-time 40-goal scorer has 22 markers and 35 points in 63 games in 2014-15.
With Neal sidelined, Calle Jarnkrok came out of the press box after being scratched in two straight contests. Mike Santorelli assumed Neal’s place on a line with Colin Wilson and Mike Ribeiro.
Nashville acquired Neal from Pittsburgh in June in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. While Neal hasn’t been as prolific offensively as he was in Pittsburgh, the Predators have excelled this season with a 43-20-7 record. They’re tied with Anaheim for first place in the Western Conference ahead of Sunday’s game against the Ducks.