The theme of the night was fire the puck along the goal line. Or for that matter, behind it.
The Detroit Red Wings counted off their third-to-last game at Joe Louis Arena tonight when they hosed the Ottawa Senators, complete with octopi even as there will be no playoffs for Detroit.
The Wings built a two-goal lead in the third period but the points-desperate Senators tied it up and both goalies were outstanding in overtime to force a shoot-out. Evgeny Svechnikov was the first player to score, in the seventh round, and the Wings ended up winning, 5-4.
Goals from Frans Nielsen and Dylan Larkin, both set up by Nick Jensen, along with 21 saves from Petr Mrazek had the Wings leading, 2-1, going into the third period. The Senators used a power play to force a tie when Erik Karlsson fired a shot along the goal line that somehow got by Mrazek. It was the third goal scored from along or behind the goal line of the game.
The Wings used two straight power plays to pull ahead. Furious play around Ottawa’s net saw Henrik Zetterberg hit a post, the puck come loose, end up back in the crease, where Gustav Nyquist banged it in off the crossbar. Fans tossed a couple of octopi, with Al Sobotka swinging one over his head to the fans’ delight.
The Wings converted again at the 8-minute mark when Mike Green took a shot from the blue line that hit Nyquist’s stick on the way in, giving him two goals on the night. That lead only lasted 22 seconds as Kyle Turris’ shot deflected in off Danny DeKeyser. Fredrik Claesson scored off a faceoff 4 minutes later as the Wings were outshot, 38-28, through regulation, and 15-5 in the third.
Mrazek was excellent in the overtime, making seven saves. The Wings had five shots.
While the Wings are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the game was of vital importance the Senators, who came into the night on a slide. That, combined with Toronto and Boston surging, has dropped Ottawa from second place in the Atlantic Division to clinging to a wild-card spot.
Even so, the start showed the Wings aren't going gently into their last week. They had good jump right away, with Zetterberg and Darren Helm testing Craig Anderson in the opening minutes. Derick Brassard hit a post as the Senators made a momentum grad about 6 minutes in. Green tried a shot from the top of the right circle with 4 minutes remaining as the Wings topped 10 shots. Tomas Nosek did what he does well, using his big body to drive the puck to the net. The Wings ended up outshooting the Senators, 16-8.
Nielsen scored 40 seconds into the second period when his shot from behind the goal line hit a Senators player and ricocheted past Anderson. Riley Sheahan — still searching for his first goal of the season — was by the right post ready to pounce on the pass, but instead wound up laughing at how the puck actually went into the net.
It took little more than a minute for the Senators to tie it, with Alexandre Burrows deflecting the puck glove side on Mrazek.
Larkin had a breakaway but play was whistled dead as the Wings took a too-many-men penalty. That turned out all right, though – Jensen weaved the puck into Ottawa’s zone before passing to Larkin, who even as he skated behind the goal line threw a backhand on net that went in off Anderson, who stopped Nyquist on a breakaway with 9 minutes to go in the second period as the Wings. Nyquist took a penalty near the end of the second period, which saw the Wings exit with 23-22 edge in shots.