DETROIT- Nothing illustrates the goaltender Ville Husso elite concentration more than his unusual reaction after losing his stick in the latter stages of the Detroit Red Wings’ 3-0 win against the New York Islanders Saturday.
Husso refused to reclaim it.
“The stick is right there, “Pick it up,'” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said when asked what he was thinking when the stick was lying on the ice a few feet from Husso. “You are going to save more pucks with a stick.”
But Husso wouldn’t take his eyes of the puck.
“You could see the focus — he was just following the play,” Lalonde said. “Literally (Defenseman Ben) Chiarot was hitting him on the pad with it: ‘Take the stick and Husso was ‘No, I’m watching the puck right now.’ It probably says something about his focus.”
What says even more about his focus is that Husso is 5-1-1 on the season and has a 1.86 goals-against average and .941 save percentage. He is one of the primary reasons why the Red Wings are 6-3-2 and tied for second place in the Atlantic Division.
“I didn’t really care if I don’t have a stick,” Husso said. “But it seemed like I need it.”
Detroit’s win was its first shutout against the New York Islanders since Jimmy Howard stopped 29 shots in a 5-0 triumph on Nov. 29, 2013 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Red Wings’ Best All-around Effort?
This was among the Red Wings’ best overall performances of the season: They blocked a season-high 24 shots, gave up and stood up to the Islanders’ heavy physical play. The Red Wings had considerable trouble against physical teams last season.
“That’s a strong, heavy team,” Lalonde said about the Islanders. “That’s a little bit of their identity. If you’re going to back down you’re in for a long night. It’s today’s NHL. You don’t have to fight but you do have to stand up for yourself. I thought for the most part our guys did that.
The Detroit squad won the special teams battle, stopping all three Islanders’ power plays and then scoring on a 5-on-3 power play goal.
“It was a really good game for us,” Husso said. “Guys did a really good job today. I think they only had 11 shots after two periods, made my night easy again. At the end, try to keep my focus for the game and not let any goals. Guys blocked shots and did all the little things again today. Big win for us.”
GM Steve Yzerman’s offseason acquisitions continue to pay off: Ben Chiarot logged more than 24 minutes, and registered four of the blocked shots. Dominik Kubalik posted a goal and an assist for his fifth multi-point game of the season. Kubalik’s goal was set up by free agent acquisition Andrew Copp chipping the puck up the boards for Kubalik.
With the list of injured forwards growing daily, the Red Wings will have to continue to play like they did Saturday against the Islanders to win games. That will certainly be true Sunday against the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden (5 p.m.)
Facts and Observations
- Detroit forward Lucas Raymond had another strong game with a goal, three shots on goal, plus a heavy open-ice hit on Islanders dynamic center Mathew Barzal. Raymond now has four goals in his past four games.
Defenseman Jordan Oesterle replaced Robert Hagg on Detroit’s third pairing. It was only Oesterle’s second game of the season. He played 14:40 against the Islanders.
The Red Wings recorded a power play goal and shorthanded goal in the same contest for the first time since Jan. 11, 2019 at Winnipeg. Additionally, Detroit netted a power play goal and shorthanded tally in the same period for the first time since the first period on Oct. 30, 2018 at Columbus.
Husso is the eighth goaltender to win at least five of his first seven appearances as a Red Wings player. Only Ty Conklin (6-1-0 in 2008-09), Dominik Hasek (6-1-0 in 2001-02), Manny Legace (6-1-0 from 1999-00 to 2000-01) and Vincent Riendeau (6-0-0 from 1991-92 to 1992-93) and Husso have done it since the 1967 expansion.
Alex Nedeljkovic is expected to start in net for the Red Wings Sunday in their road game against the New York Rangers.