'Crazy': Bertuzzi's penalty dooms Wings in late collapse
New York — You’re rarely going to see a more bizarre game as this one.
The Red Wings let a potential key victory slip away in strange fashion, 7-6, Friday in overtime to the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center.
But the way they got there was as unusual as you’re going to see.
The Red Wings had compete control and led 5-2, then saw forward Tyler Bertuzzi take a match penalty for slashing at 13 minutes, 27 seconds of the third period.
Amazingly, the Islanders scored four times on Bertuzzi’s five-minute penalty, and took an improbable 6-5 lead with 1:49 left in regulation.
Still reeling, the Red Wings recovered and tied it on Mike Green’s goal with 29 seconds left.
But in overtime, the Islanders’ Brock Nelson scored his third goal of the game at 3:15, capping a 2-on-1 rush with Matthew Barzal and beating goaltender Petr Mrazek for the unexpected comeback.
“Crazy,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg, who had a goal and three assists. “I’ve never been part of the game like this.”
The Red Wings (21-23-9, 51 points) saw their winless streak reach three games (0-2-1) and they fell nine points behind the Islanders (27-23-6, 60 points) for the final wild-card spot — despite twice possessing a three-goal lead in Friday’s game.
But that wasn’t as shocking, as just the way this game turned.
And for Bertuzzi, a young scrappy forward, it was a tough lesson to learn.
“At that point of the game we can’t take a retaliatory penalty,” coach Jeff Blashill said of Bertuzzi’s slash on forward Cal Clutterbuck. “It was unnecessary. The game is over. We’ve taken their life away and we gave them life.”
Bertuzzi took responsibility for the ill-timed penalty, but was surprised it was of the five-minute category and not a simple two-minute one.
“Heat of the moment and I turned and slashed,” Bertuzzi said. “I don’t think it deserved a five. A two-minute penalty, but not a five.
“It was more or less sticking up for myself and not taking stuff from anyone. A young guy in the league, in the heat of the moment, obviously I regret it. But in the end of the day, I don’t think it was a five-minute penalty.”
To sit and watch the Islanders then score four times on his penalty was not a great feeling.
“It stinks being in the dressing room and watching it and knowing you took the penalty,” Bertuzzi said. “But just suck it up and eat it and own what you did.”
Blashill felt Bertuzzi will learn from the situation.
“That’s not acceptable and he knows that,” Blashill said. “I hear he owned it already. I’ll deal with that privately. He knows it’s not acceptable and our team knows it’s not acceptable.”
Blashill wasn’t pleased a penalty kill, which had been stout all season, allowed the four goals in that particular situation.
“That’s the other thing we can control is how we reacted on the kill,” Blashill said. “We have to bail the young guy out. He’s played real good hockey for us, he’s a heart and soul type of guy, and you have to bail him out.
“We didn’t do it. We needed guys to do it. It became a bit of a shooting gallery and we need better execution than that.”
Green’s goal to force overtime, and at least salvage a point for the Red Wings, was a slice of positive news.
“We found a way to score a goal and get a point, that’s a fact,” Blashill said. “We didn’t want to give them any (points) and we’d like to have gotten two (points).
“For a large stretch of that game, we played very good hockey.
“You have guys out there like Zetterberg and (Niklas) Kronwall, and they’re calm, calm players and they know the game is 60 minutes long. It’s disappointing and bitter, but we got a point and let’s find a way to win (Sunday) in Washington.”
First-period goals from Anthony Mantha, Martin Frk and Zetterberg gave the Red Wings a 3-0 lead and apparent control.
Goals from Darren Helm and Mantha (power play) made it 5-2 Red Wings in the third period, after the Islanders had gotten to within 3-2.
Then Bertuzzi’s penalty changed the entire game.
“It’s tough being on the losing side in a game like this,” Zetterberg said. “I’d rather be on the other side.”