Goaltender Jimmy Howard talks about the Red Wings' overtime loss to Pitsburgh. The Detroit News
Detroit — The Red Wings kept it close for most of the night, but ultimately Pittsburgh's stars came through.
Sidney Crosby redirected a pass from Evgeni Malkin on the power play Friday and gave the Penguins a 2-1 overtime victory.
A Luke Glendening interference penalty led to the Penguins' man advantage, and Pittsburgh took advantage at 1:33 of overtime.
“When you give skilled players like that constant looks on the power play, they’re going to make you pay, it’s as simple as that,” said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who kept the Wings close with 35 saves.
In a season that’s been the roughest and most disappointing of his career, Howard had, arguably, one of his best games of the season.
On the heels of being pulled Tuesday on Long Island in less than eight minutes, Howard kept the dangerous Penguins offense off the scoreboard until the third period.
“He was awesome,” said forward Filip Zadina, who scored the lone Wings’ goal. “He was the best player from our team, for sure. He was outstanding. It was great, but we have to go and score more than one goal and help him.”
Coach Jeff Blashill was hopeful Howard’s play could be the start of a positive streak for the veteran goaltender.
“I know he wants to go out and wants to play at a level he’s proven capable of (playing),” Blashill said. “He certainly did that tonight and hopefully he can build on that and start rolling.”
Pittsburgh's Matt Murray made 28 saves. Troy native Bryan Rust (Birmingham Brother Rice) tied the score 1-1 at 3:36 of the third period on the power play.
Quick, crisp passing by the Penguins was capped with Rust taking a pass from Malkin, going down to the hash marks, and beating Howard for his 20th goal.
The Penguins converted on the power play again in overtime, with the Penguins enjoying a 4-on-3 advantage, which plays to the strengths of Crosby and Malkin.
Coach Jeff Blashill on the Red Wings' late loss to Pittsburgh. The Detroit News
“I don’t think 4-on-3s are super, super dangerous lots of time but when you have Crosby around the net, it gets way more dangerous,” Blashill said. “Jimmy made a good tip save (earlier) and then the next one is real tough because you have Malkin looking like he’s going to shoot so you have to honor the shot and there’s no way to get over there (to other side).
“That definitely is not a team you want to down 4-on-3 in overtime.”
Zadina scored the lone goal, his sixth, on the power play in the second period.
Zadina got control of the puck, settled it, then slapped at it with the puck getting through the screened Murray, who couldn’t see around Givani Smith.
“The goalie never saw the shot,” Blashill said. “The puck doesn’t go in if Givani isn’t standing in front.”
The Wings return to Little Caesars Arena Saturday to host Florida in a rare home back-to-back.
“After a game like tonight, you want to play as soon as possible and the way we played tonight, we can repeat it tomorrow,” forward Dylan Larkin said.