Howard: Red Wings are ‘bending, not breaking’ in latest run
“Early in the season, when stuff started to go wrong … things really exploded on us,” said Jimmy Howard. “And now guys are continuing to keep working.”
Tuesday night’s 3-2 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks at Little Caesars Arena is an example of how the Red Wings are not the same team they were in the first 10 games of the season, when they went 1-7-2.
In the fourth win in its last five games, Detroit found itself down 2-0 in the second period and not playing well. But unlike the first 10 games of 2018-19, the Wings kept battling and continued to play their system.
“We’re bending, not breaking I guess,” Jimmy Howard said after the game. “Early in the season, when stuff started to go wrong, the body language was off and things really exploded on us. And now guys are continuing to keep working.”
Justin Abdelkader’s power-play goal with 6:17 left in the second made it 2-1, and Gustav Nyquist tied the game at 2, early in the third period.
From there, Howard kept the momentum going with outstanding work. He kept the scored tied through the end of regulation and the five-minute 3-on-3 overtime period. In all he made 40 saves.
He continued the run by denying all three Vancouver shooters in the shootout while Dylan Larkin scored the only goal to give Detroit the win.
“Tonight we took it to a shootout, and it can go either way in a shootout,” Nyquist said. “But Howie did a great job of saving those three.
“We’re just continuing to play. I don’t think we started as well as we have been here at home, but I think the last two periods were pretty good.”
Another part of Detroit’s success has been the improved play of 19-year-old rookie Michael Rasmussen, who has two goals and an assist in his last four games. He has been creating chances, holding on to the puck down low and in the corners to take advantage of his 6-6, 221-pound frame.
“I think his play’s been way better in the last little bit,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I think he’s building as a hockey player, and I think he’s getting rewarded … with goals.”
Rasmussen has combined with Nyquist and center Jacob de la Rose to form the Wings’ most dangerous line the past two games.
"We've built some chemistry," Nyquist said. "Those guys are two big bodies (de la Rose is 6-3, 216), forechecking really well. With those guys, I get to touch the puck a lot. They like to go to the net and try to just make as many plays as possible."
De la Rose, who was picked up off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens earlier in the season, assisted on Nyquist’s tying goal on Tuesday night after getting his first goal as a Red Wing on Saturday night in a 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
“I think de la Rose has been very, very good for us,” Blashill said. “He’s a really, really strong player. He wins puck battles, he wins puck races. He knows how to leverage his body, he’s heavy down low. He just plays from the side of the puck.
“As a result of doing that, he gets lots of opportunity to create some offense. And he can play with good players.”
De la Rose has a goal and an assist and is plus-1 in six games.