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Four Takeaways: Ovi Spoils Red Wings New Year’s Eve Party



Marc Staal, Detroit Red Wings
Two late goals from Alexander Ovechkin were the difference as the Washington Capitals downed the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 on New Year's Eve.

The last time the Detroit Red Wings were facing the Washington Capitals at Little Caesars Arena, they held Alex Ovechkin without a shot on goal. Back at LCA on New Year’s Eve, Ovechkin ended up firing the winning shots in 3-1 victory for the Caps.

The Washington captain scored a power-play goal with 2:51 left in regulation time to snap a 1-1 tie. He completed the scoring with an empty-net tally. The power-play goal was his 275th, breaking the NHL record he was sharing with Dave Andreychuk. It was also Ovechkin’s 119th game winner. He’s now third all-time on that list.

“He’s one of the greatest scorers of all time and he knows how to put the puck in the net,” Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal said. “He found a way tonight at the end and that’s the game.”

Four takeaways from Detroit’s first game action since December 18.

Red Wings Close But No Cigar

Staal wasn’t showing any interest in moral victories. Yes, the Red Wings played the Caps tough. Sure, it was an impressive performance from a team that was shut down nearly two weeks by COVID-19. On the other hand . . .

“We gotta win them,” Staal said. “You can take lessons or whatever but you gotta find a way to finish the job. There’s only going to be more of those.

“We’ve played what, 30 games? The last 50 it just gets tighter and tighter and more intense and less room. You’re going to have more nights like that, so we gotta be comfortable in those situations and finish the job.”

Starting On Time, Finishing Second

Despite the long layoff, the first period was the best for the Red Wings. They fired 11 shots on goal.

Detroit claimed the lead 1:43 into the second period when Pius Suter converted Vladislav Namestnikov’s feed. It was the ninth point in 12 games for Suter. As well, it was the first time in three games with Washington this season that the Red Wings held a regulation-time lead over the Capitals.

After the opening frame, the Caps put the clamps down. They limited Detroit to nine shots over the remaining 40 minutes.

“The one area I didn’t think we got as much was on our forecheck pressure as the game went along, so we weren’t in their end,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.

Greiss Was Right

Alex Nedeljkovic is drawing much of the praise this season among Detroit’s goaltenders. However, since he was just back from COVID-19 protocol, it was up to Thomas Greiss to fill the void and he did so admirably. Griess blocked 24 shots.

“He did a good job, I thought a bunch of guys did,” Blashill said. “The whole team had time off. I thought Greiss did a good job, we did a good job.

“I’ve said this lots, if you want real good goaltending you got to get real good defense. I thought we played well defensively and he did a pretty good job.”

Seider Smackdown

During one shift in the third period, Red Wings rookie defenseman Moritz Seider was displaying his mean streak. He twice flattened Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway and also took out Washington forward Nic Dowd.

He’s impressive to me,” Staal said. “He plays hard. He’s so good with the puck and he’s just getting better and better every day.”

However, Blashill would’ve been happier were Seider to call an end to the altercations after knocking Dowd to the ice. Instead, a post-whistle dust up ensued, ending in unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to both Dowd and Seider.

“I thought it was great until it went four-on-four,” Blashill said. “We’ve talked about the fact he’s got toughness to him. He takes people on, he’s got a chip on his shoulder that way.

“I would just like him to at the very end skate to the bench because I don’t want to lose him. I don’t think it’s an equal loss there.”