Canucks' special teams dominate, throttle Red Wings 5-1
The Red Wings road trip didn’t start the way they wanted it to, by any stretch.
Vancouver defeated the Wings 5-1 Tuesday as the Wings opened a quick three-games-in-four-days trip through western Canada.
The loss dropped the Wings to 3-3 on the season.
Through the opening five games, there were stretches where the Red Wings’ didn’t play well, but not for lengthy periods of game.
But Tuesday, many facets of the Wings’ game simply weren’t good enough, despite Dylan Larkin opening the scoring 30 seconds into the game and getting the Wings going quickly.
The Wings became too loose and sloppy defensively in the second period, the special teams became a huge factor in Vancouver’s favor, and the Wings fell apart.
Whatever chance the Wings had of cutting, or overcoming, a 4-1 third-period deficit came and went after the Wings failed to convert during a 1 minute, 37 second two-man advantage.
Here are other takeaways from the Wings' loss:
Larkin scored just 30 seconds into the game. The Larkin line completely dominated the Canucks, with Anthony Mantha being stopped on a good chance by goaltender Thatcher Demko, before Mantha found Larkin alone in the slot, and Larkin froze Demko, then put in his second goal.
Big line keeps rolling
Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Mantha scored the Wings' goal and again generated scoring chances. An interesting aspect of this game was that the Canucks were much more physical against the Larkin line than any previous opponent. Will other teams duplicate the physical style?
But the other lines …
Andreas Athanasiou was more noticeable than he’s been all this young season, using his speed to an advantage, but he only had one shot on net. Coach Jeff Blashill shuffled Athanasiou with several lines. But Taro Hirose continues to struggle at even-strength, veterans Valtteri Filppula and Frans Nielsen haven't done much, and the fourth line, which had starred for several games, was silent.
The Canucks had been throttled most of the first period, but Troy Stetcher put the Canucks on the board at 17:58. Mike Green turned the puck over at his blue line, starting a Canucks rush going the other way. Jake Virtanen found Stetcher trailing, and the defenseman beat goaltender Jonathan Bernier (27 saves) tying the score.
Vancouver exploded for three second-period goals. Defenseman Alex Edler scored at 1:13, on the power play, with a shot from the high slot. Elias Pettersson made it 3-1 at 3:48, tipping in a rebound of Tyler Myers’ shot from the point. J.T. Miller completed the flurry at 12:45, on the power play, redirecting Edler’s shot from the high slot.
Miller got his second goal in the third period, again on the power play, with a snap shot from the hashmarks.
Nielsen returned to the lineup, replacing Christoffer Ehn. Defensemen Trevor Daley returned from injury, and replaced Danny DeKeyser (upper body), who left Tuesday’s morning skate early and wasn’t able to play. Alex Biega made his Wings debut — against his old team, no less — replacing Madison Bowey.
The Wings also sent Evgeny Svechnikov to Grand Rapids with Nielsen being activated. Svechnikov didn’t get into any games during his week-long stay.
Hughes is real deal
Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes (Michigan) was as good as advertised. The 2018 first-round pick — Hughes was selected right after the Wings selected Filip Zadina — didn’t get on the scoresheet, but was constantly around the puck, showed elite mobility, and nicely controlled the game in just over 18 minutes of ice time, with one shot and a plus-1 rating.
Special teams impact
The Canucks came into the game with an elite penalty kill and dormant power play in the opening days of the season. The PK killed off three Wings power plays, but Vancouver’s PP came alive, too. The Canucks were 2-for-3 in the second period, breaking the game open, and 3-for-5 for the game.
The Wings visit Calgary Thursday (9 p.m./Fox Sports Detroit/97.1) for the second game in a three-game trip through western Canada.