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Red Wings take over third period, blank Ovechkin in win

Gustav Nyquist, Henrik Zetterberg

Detroit Red Wings center Gustav Nyquist (14), from Sweden, and left wing Henrik Zetterberg (40), also from Sweden, celebrate Nyquist’s goal in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


Through two periods, it seemed like the story would be about the Washington Capitals enjoying better work from their supporting cast. The attention instead swerved back to the top guns in the final frame, however, as the Detroit Red Wings’ stars powered a 4-2 win on Wednesday.

Justin Abdelkader scored twice and Pavel Datsyuk provided the insurance marker as Detroit scored three unanswered goals in the third period.

Abdelkader finished with three points (adding an assist), Datsyuk had two points (one goal, one assist), Henrik Zetterberg grabbed a pair of helpers and Gustav Nyquist nabbed a nice tally as Detroit finished strong on “Rivalry Night.”

Abdelkader played the role of the complementary player to stars in the closing 20 minutes in particular, scoring thanks to a combination of grit, nice timing and good fortune:

The Red Wings shook off a disallowed goal in the first period and Washington’s 2-1 lead to win this game.

Considering the fact that Detroit’s big guns came up big, Alex Ovechkin’s frustrating night stands out that much more. For the first time in his career, the 29-year-old failed to generate a point in five straight games.

While his -2 rating underscores the aggravation - not to mention the slashes he threw in the waning moments - Ovechkin did have his chances, firing seven shots on goal (which is as many as he had in the previous four games combined). Jimmy Howard was equal to the task, however, making 25 out of 27 saves overall.

Fair or not, Ovechkin’s detractors will have a field day. Especially cruel critics will contrast his play with Datsyuk’s brilliant night, including this jaw-dropping goal.

Sometimes it’s actually more frustrating to perform well and lose, yet the Capitals can at least note that they often carried the play against a strong puck possession team tonight:


James OBrien

(via Natural Stat Trick)

This isn’t the last time that the Red Wings’ top guns finished a game in a strong way. They robbed victory from the jaws of defeat against the Pittsburgh Penguins to boot, as you can see in this post.

With this win, the Red Wings are now 5-2-2 as they ready for a home game against the Los Angeles Kings. The Capitals have now lost two games by a score of 4-2 and three of their last four. They’ll get a little breather before they take on the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins