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Five Takeaways: Jakub Vrana Scores a Pair but Red Wings fall 5-4



Before the puck could even drop, the Detroit Red Wings were eliminated from the playoffs. It’s not that it was a surprise, but another sobering reminder that the rebuild is still a work in progress. But it didn’t stop from a playoff-like atmosphere between Detroit and Columbus.

Both teams traded goals and punches in an active second period and an even more frantic third period. The Red Wings rallied from a 4-2 deficit with two late third period goals but ultimately fell 5-4 in overtime.

“It’s good to see we have fight there,” Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said. “We’ve talked lots about it, so that’s definitely a positive. It’s a game sitting there to be had and we gotta find a way to win.”

Columbus jumped out to an early 1-0 lead but the Red Wings would tie it in the second on Vrana’s ninth goal of the season. Sam Gagner followed later to give Detroit a 2-1 lead but Columbus tied it seconds later. The Jackets would pot two in the third before the Red Wings responded with goals from Dylan Larkin and Jakub Vrana.

The comeback bid ended in overtime when yet another opponent recorded a hat trick–this time Jack Roslovic–who ended Detroit’s winning streak at two.

Red Wings’ Vrana’s Goal Scoring Binge Continues

In just 16 games, Vrana has ten goals and 13 points. In 27 career games with the Red Wings, Vrana has 18 goals and 23 points. It’s a wonder what Vrana could do in an entire season with Detroit, which would certainly have altered some of the results with him on the ice.

Between the skill (Bally’s Sports commentator Mickey Redmond remarked how challenging it was of a shot) and the speed used to make the play, Vrana has been quite the acquisition for Detroit. It’s presumed that general manager Steve Yzerman will add more talent this summer. With time melting away, it’s Vrana again, burying his tenth of the season.

A full season of Vrana would also go a long way improving Detroit’s fortunes, and would also increase Vrana’s potential goal total even more.

Said Blashill: “I think the last few games he’s played real good hockey. I think he’s skated better….he’s played more accountable. But we want him to play winning hockey and I think the last few games he’s done a good job of playing winning hockey.”

Sam Gagner Continues His Scoring Streak

Gagner added to his goal total with his 12 of the season, and his third in the past two games. His 28 points this season is his highest output since the 2017-18 season where he had 31 with Vancouver. Gagner is an unrestricted free agent this summer but he may have shown another reason to have another go around in Detroit.

Beyond his increased output this season, Gagner has been a positive voice for the younger players on the roster. It wouldn’t be surprising if Yzerman brought him back for another season.

Larkin Nears Career Goal Tally

Larkin’s 31st goal of the season spearheaded the comeback, albeit it on his 500th career game. Larkin’s career best of 32 came back in 2018-19, and it’s all but certain he’ll match it and potentially move past it.

Regardless of the accolade and the goal, Larkin felt it wasn’t one to really celebrate.

“It’s just another game,” Larkin said. “I thought I was pretty bad tonight and cost the team, so it wasn’t that much of a celebration. It would have been nice to finish that one up.”

Penalties Doom a Red Wings Rally

It’s been a theme lately, but the Red Wings hurt their chances with continuous returns to the penalty box. Some of the calls were questionable, including one on Tyler Bertuzzi that saw a golden scoring opportunity negated on a purported tripping penalty.

While it’s not indicative of any sort of bias, there were some calls missed either because of the optics of the play or the speed of it occurring. Regardless of the vantage point, Larkin lamented the number of infractions and how it affected the push Detroit could have made.

“We did a good job on the penalty kill but we were in the box way too much,” Larkin said. “We’ve been taking a lot of penalties lately. We can’t be taking that many penalties. It really disrupts the flow of the game and obviously puts us shorthanded, we lose momentum.”

Five Years Since the Final Game at the Joe

It was five years ago today that the Joe Louis Arena hosted its final game in a 2-0 Detroit Red Wings victory. It was then the first season Detroit hadn’t made the playoffs since 1990, but it was an emotional moments for fans and former Red Wings who returned to say goodbye.

One of those former players was Yzerman, who spoke and was serenaded with a “Come Home Stevie” chant by the capacity crowd.

They would get their wish in 2019.