Wings B team beats Penguins in exhibition opener
Detroit — Hockey returned to Joe Louis Arena Tuesday but this was a bit more of the American League, rather than than the National League, variety.
In the exhibition opener for both teams — with many regulars on both teams still at the World Cup of Hockey or being rested — the Red Wings defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-2.
Mitch Callahan scored two goals (one a power play) and Evgeny Svechnikov (power play) and Riley Sheahan added the others.
Sheahan scored at 17 minutes, 50 seconds of the third period, converting a backhand pass from Gustav Nyquist past goalie Casey DeSmith to make it 4-2.
Callahan, an agitator who has yet to crack the Red Wings roster, scored the first two Red Wings goals.
“Mitch played well the whole night,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “Sometimes guys score and it’s indicative of the game and that was the case for him tonight.
“Good for Calli. He’s a bit of a hockey player. By that, I mean he finds a way to do the right thing. He doesn’t always look the skill set part but he finds a way to do the right thing.”
Jimmy Howard (14 saves on 15 shots) and Jared Coreau (17 saves on 18 shots) split the time in net.
Garrett Wilson scored both goals for the Penguins.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was one of the few recognizable names on the Pittsburgh roster, and stopped 20 of 23 shots over two periods before being replaced.
Svechnikov had the game’s prettiest goal during a second-period power play.
With the Red Wings enjoying a two-man advantage, Svechnikov skated toward the net alone and slipped a nice backhander past Fleury at 14:41, giving the Red Wings a 3-1 lead.
“He’s a guy who shows flashes of high-end skill,” Blashill said. “It was good to see him get the goal. He’s strong, has to make sure to learn to move his feet, and has good hands.”
Callahan opened the scoring in the first period at 11:35, converting a scramble in front of Fleury.
“Get that first one, and it got the confidence up,” Callahan said.
Coreau made several nice saves to maintain the two-goal lead for the Red Wings but Wilson cut the lead to 3-2 at 9:27 of the third period, beating Coreau from in close.
But Coreau and the Red Wings’ penalty killers stood tall with nine minutes remaining, and the Red Wings held down the stretch.
It was a good debut for defenseman Dan Renouf, who had an assist on Callahan’s first goal and had a fight with Pittsburgh’s Wilson in the second period.
Renouf was signed as an undrafted free agent from Maine last spring.
With Gustav Nyquist and Jimmy Howard both also Maine alumni, there was a level of familiarity.
Renouf was also impressed with the organization’s history.
“Just a storied organization,” Renouf said. “So much success, and it just seemed like a big family here and I wanted to be part of it for sure.”
Renouf considers himself a two-way defenseman who doesn’t mind playing aggressively.
“My defensive game, playing gritty … that’s what they see in me and they want me to be, tough and aggressive and throw my weight around,” Renouf said. “My size and mobility are my biggest assets and I have to use that.”
Blashill hopes Teemu Pulkkinen (shoulder surgery) will play one of the last two exhibition games next weekend against Toronto.
“It’s a timeline until his doctors allow him to play full (contact),” Blashill said. “That timeline doesn’t go until next Friday. He’s just trying to get his legs going a little bit.”
Henrik Zetterberg (knee) and Niklas Kronwall (knee) are skating on their own and aiming to return for the start of the regular season.
Defenseman Joe Hicketts had a team-high five shots and was credited with three hits in 20:08 of ice time.
“He’s not a real fast skater, not real big, he’s a hockey player through and through,” Blashill said. “I remember watching him in the world junior (championships) for Canada, he’s on the ice in the end of the game. I loved coaching him in the prospects tournament. He was real good.”
… One area Blashill didn’t like was the six Red Wings penalties, giving Pittsburgh five power plays (although the Red Wings did kill them all).