Red Wings hammer Petr Mrazek, end victory drought
Detroit — Goaltender Petr Mrazek returned to Little Caesars Arena Tuesday — and the Red Wings ruined it on two fronts.
Mrazek, whom the Red Wings traded to Philadelphia last month, had a forgettable homecoming as the Red Wings drove him out of the net in the second period. The Flyers did rally in the third period to force overtime but the Red Wings ended up winning 5-4 in a shootout.
The Red Wings had a 1-0 edge in the shootout, with Frans Nielsen scoring the goal and Jimmy Howard stopping all three Flyers shooters.
The win ended a 10-game winless streak for the Red Wings, who hadn’t won since Feb. 25.
“Hopefully it takes the monkey off everyone’s back and we can just go out there and play the last nine games, compete hard, and have some confidence heading into the offseason,” said Howard, who outplayed his old goaltending partner by stopping 27 shots.
After Sunday’s loss in Denver, there was a definite sense of frustration building within the Red Wings dressing room.
“We talked about it as a team after the last game, certainly frustration was starting to boil over,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Our guys came out and played great. The third period wasn’t good enough, but we played great for two periods (and) to finish was critical.
“You don’t want to come in here and talk about another loss. It was critical (to win).”
Dylan Larkin scored his second goal of the game, 11th of the season, converting an Anthony Mantha feed past Flyers goalie Alex Lyon (who replaced Mrazek) at 14 minutes, 6 seconds of the third period, giving the Red Wings a brief, 4-3 lead.
But the Flyers tied it 4-4 just 28 seconds later on Travis Konecny’s 20th goal, with him driving to the net, and redirecting a puck past Howard.
Matt Read and Shayne Gostisbehere (power play) scored 1:54 apart midway in the third period, tying the game 3-3.
“The third period was exemplary of what happens when you haven’t won, you don’t have the confidence that you do when you win,” Blashill said. “Our gaps got real soft and we just laid back too much.
“But good for the guys to stay with it and find a way. We had a lot of chances in overtime after that power play (for Philadelphia). It was a good win.”
Blashill and teammates raved about forward Luke Glendening’s key block of a shot on the penalty kill in overtime that might have saved a goal.
“What a block by Glennie there,” Howard said. “He’s not a guy who gets talked about but he means so much for this team, means so much in this dressing room.”
Said Blashill: “It’s an example of the way our guys have continued to battle. I don’t know how his foot will end up but it hurt for sure, he was done for the rest of the game, but it’s totally indicative of the compete our team continues to have.”
Larkin, Glendening (short-handed) and Evgeny Svechnikov scored goals within a 3:49 span in the second period, ending Mrazek’s night.
Mrazek (16 saves) allowed three goals on six shots in the second period as the Red Wings pulled away, with Svechnikov’s first NHL goal the one that drove Mrazek to the showers.
“When Petr gets hot we all know he’s a great goalie,” Larkin said. “We had some good plays on our goals. In the first (period) I was getting a little worried, he was a playing the puck a lot and looked real comfortable out there.
“But we got traffic and hung around the net.”
Before Mrazek left the ice, he beelined to the bench and gave an earful to Flyers coach Dave Hakstol.
“It didn’t go the way he probably wanted to go but that happens over the course of a season for any of us,” Howard said. “I’m sure he’ll bounce back.”