Zidlicky’s power play goal gives Red Wings 2-1 overtime win over Rangers

In his first game, Marek Zidlicky made a difference. After being dealt by the Devils at the trade deadline for a 2016 third round pick, the veteran defenseman got a piece of a loose puck scoring a power play goal at 1:09 of overtime to lift the Red Wings over the Rangers 2-1 at Joe Louis Arena.

This was one of the most exciting games of the season. Billed as #RivalryNight on NBCSN between Original Sixes, the Rangers and Red Wings skated, forechecked, checked and goaltended for 61 minutes. It truly was a spectacle. Despite the teams combining for 71 shots, only three goals were scored due in large part to the goalies. Jimmy Howard was superb for the Wings making 39 saves. So too was Ranger backup Cam Talbot, who took an unlucky loss stopping 29 of 31.

The Rangers lost despite having the better of the play for a vast majority. In the second game since the Keith Yandle acquisition, they controlled possession for long stretches. There was another long shift where Yandle and Dan Boyle had the Wings pinned in. But they were unable to score due to Howard, who was sensational throughout. Detroit isn’t looked at as a serious contender compared to Atlantic rivals Montreal and Tampa Bay. Maybe they should be. Given the superb skill and goaltending if Howard plays like that, they can beat anyone.

Following a strong push by the Rangers, it was the Wings who drew first blood when Justin Abdelkader was able to legally get a piece of Henrik Zetterberg’s centering pass in front having it go off his skate past Talbot at 6:12 of the first period. The goal was reviewed but it looked like he got part of the stick as well as skate on it. Jonathan Ericsson notched the other assist.

Due in large part to their forecheck, the Rangers drew two penalties on the Wings. After their first power play didn’t get much done, the second one did thanks to an unlikely source. Of all people, Dan Girardi went to the front of the net and steer in a Rick Nash pass for a power play goal to tie it at 17:02. It took till after the period for them to tack on a assist to Derick Brassard, who set the play up.

The second was sheer entertainment. It was mostly Rangers with their combination of team speed and skating giving the Red Wings fits during the long change. It felt like they spent an eternity in the Detroit end. Ultimately, they couldn’t finish. Howard was a big reason for that turning aside all 16 shots. He was at his best stoning Nash and robbing Martin St. Louis.

Every line made it difficult on the Wings including the new fourth line featuring deadline pickup James Sheppard, who took 13 shifts and fit in seamlessly with Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast. Meanwhile, the third line continued to play well with the cohesive trio of J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin getting some good attack time.

The Red Wings had some push back thanks to Pavel Datsyuk and Czech cardinal copy Tomas Tatar. They spent a shift in the Ranger zone forcing Talbot into some difficult stops. Though he wasn’t as busy, he made timely saves denying all seven in one of the best scoreless periods of the season.

The third was a dogfight. Neither team deviated from strategy. They each took turns attacking. It made for an entertaining period that may as well have been a Conference Final preview. If only that actually came down, I don’t think NBC would mind. The Rangers and Red Wings combined for 25 total shots and five penalties. Each defended scoring chances well and each got splendid goaltending.

The Rangers’ best chance came from Marc Staal, who split the middle and cut in firing a laser off the goalpost. A great move by a very confident player who looked lost a year ago in the same system. Whatever it is, he looks all the way back making Glen Sather look smart for locking him up. I’ll readily admit that Staal has proven me wrong. I’m glad he’s still here and is playing at such a high level.

It got chippy late with Brassard chopping back at Abdelkader following being hooked in the Red Wings end. It was a silly penalty because it canceled a power play with 2:04 left in regulation. On the four-on-four, Gustav Nyquist got a step on Derek Stepan forcing him to grab him for a holding minor with 47 seconds left. While he did hook Stepan in to draw it, it didn’t matter. The Rangers had to kill the remaining 47 to get a point. It was Talbot who made a great glove save on Niklas Kronwall with over 10 seconds left that kept it tied.

In OT, each side got a skater back giving the Wings a 5-on-4. They kept pressuring until a bizarre final sequence resulted in Zidlicky’s winner. A great Zetterberg feed for Datsyuk down low forced Talbot into a difficult save. As the puck caromed in front, Ryan McDonagh fell down and Zidlicky reached in and got a piece of the puck chipping it in through a maze of players.

At first glance, it looked like the Wings got away with a shove which would’ve been goalie interference. But vet ref tandem Paul Devorski and Kevin Pollock were proven right. NBCSN replays clearly showed that no one was pushed into Talbot. Zidlicky just made a good play and scored an odd game-winner. Not bad considering it was his Red Wings’ debut. He definitely seemed excited when he talked to Pierre McGuire afterwards.

Rangers Back In First: For the Rangers, they still earned a point tying the Islanders in points (85) but also moving back into first by virtue of two more regulation overtime wins and two extra games left. Beware of the Penguins, who are at Colorado trailing the Avalanche 1-0 in the second. They’re four back.

BONY 3 Stars:

3rd Star-Marek Zidlicky, DET (scored at 1:09 of overtime in Wings debut)

2nd Star-Cam Talbot, NYR (29 saves incl. 12/12 in 3rd)

1st Star-Jimmy Howard, DET (38 saves incl. 16/16 in 2nd)

Notes: Fourteen of 18 Ranger skaters registered shots led by Nash’s seven. By comparison, 16 of 18 Red Wings skaters had shots. NYR who didn’t were Stepan, Chris Kreider, Sheppard and Moore. Wings who didn’t were Drew Miller and Luke Glendening. … Red Wings won the faceoff battle going 33-for-58 led by Datsyuk (13-and-7). Brassard was the Rangers’ best going 11-and-6. … Each team had 8 giveaways. … Rangers blocked 14 shots with Girardi pacing them with five compared to the Red Wings’ six. … Rangers (39-17-7) get the next three days off before visiting the Blackhawks Sunday.

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Matt Martin suspended one game

The NHL suspended Matt Martin one game for kneeing Stars defenseman Trevor Daley during the first period of Tuesday’s game. He was assessed a kneeing major and game misconduct. He’ll forfeit $5,376.34 to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

It is well explained. Martin went to finish a check after Daley released the puck and saw him. He is allowed to but did stick the leg out injuring Daley. According to Dallas Morning News reporter Mike Heika, the veteran defenseman could be out a while.

The latest update had Dallas coach Lindy Ruff indicating that Daley could miss two weeks. While not intentional, Martin will serve a one-game suspension missing tomorrow’s Islanders game at Nashville.

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Lee’s goal with 1.1 seconds left allows Islanders to escape Dallas with point

Derek Felix:

The Islanders were able to scratch out a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Stars thanks to rookie Anders Lee, who tallied with 1.1 seconds left in regulation. Ultimately, Cody Eakin scored from Jamie Benn on an odd-man rush due to a Ryan Strome turnover.

With the point, the Isles move back into first with 85. One up on the Rangers, who are back in action tonight at Detroit. Five total points separate first from fourth in the division. Alex Ovechkin continued his late MVP drive with 2 goals in another Caps win. More in the blog.

Originally posted on HITTING BACK:

Cody Eakin watches his overtime winner get past Jaroslav Halak with Calvin de Haan in the picture. AP Photo by Tim Sharp/Getty Images Cody Eakin watches his overtime winner get past Jaroslav Halak with Calvin de Haan in the picture.
AP Photo by Tim Sharp/Getty Images

The Islanders were able to sneak a point out of Dallas in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Stars. By sneak, they needed a miraculous Anders Lee goal with 1.1 seconds left in regulation to earn a point moving them back ahead of the Rangers by a point into first place. Taking advantage of a Stars turnover, Lee was able to snap one home beating Kari Lehtonen to force overtime.

They came close to winning it but hit the post. Less than a minute later, a turnover at the Stars blueline by Ryan Strome led directly to a two-on-one with Cody Eakin taking a perfect Jamie Benn cross-ice feed for an easy finish into an open side past Jaroslav Halak at 2:18 of OT. Halak finished with…

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Sabres trade Stewart to Wild, Mitchell and Flynn to Canadiens

The Sabres continued their overhaul on Deadline Day moving spare parts to contenders. Forward Chris Stewart went to the Wild for a 2017 second round pick. Stewart has 11 goals and 14 assists. Most coming in the past two months following heavy criticism from coach Ted Nolan, who called Stewart ‘lazy.’ Not exactly the kind of label you want to have headed into unrestricted free agency.

Stewart will get a chance to increase his market value with the Wild, who currently are in the second wildcard with 73 points. Three clear of Calgary and Los Angeles, who are battling for third in the Pacific. The Flames were dealt a big blow losing Norris front runner Mark Giordano for the season with a torn biceps.

Buffalo continued to remain active unloading Michal Neuvirth to the Islanders for Chad Johnson and a 2016 third round pick. This from a team that already traded Jhonas Enroth to Dallas for Anders Lindback. So, their goalies are two average backups for the rest of the season as they continue their tank push towards Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Is this really good for the NHL? Never mind.

The Sabres kept the wheel going sending Torrey Mitchell to arch rival Montreal for forward Jack Nevins and a 2016 seventh round pick. Who is Nevins and does he have any chance of being a regular? It’s bad enough that Buffalo purged both goalies but they even helped out the hated Canadiens in their Cup chase. Imagine that happening between the Devils and Rangers. The two Hudson rivals have never made a single trade.

They weren’t done also sending character forward Brian Flynn to the Canadiens for a 2016 fifth round pick. So, both Mitchell and Flynn go from the worst team in NHL history to a Stanley Cup contender with the most points in the East. Not bad. If they win a Cup, will Buffalo get a share? Don’t answer that.

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Islanders add goalie help with Neuvirth

The Islanders didn’t make any big splashes on #DeadlineDay. However, GM Garth Snow still made a wise move upgrading backup goalie by acquiring Michal Neuvirth from the Sabres for Chad Johnson and a 2016 third round pick.

Basically, they needed a better goalie to back up starter Jaroslav Halak. Johnson just isn’t capable of giving Halak enough rest to remain fresh for the postseason. He won eight games but posted a 3.08 goals-against-average and a .899 save percentage. On an awful team, Neuvirth has won six games but has a 2.99 GAA and .918 save percentage. The 26-year old Czech is unrestricted this summer.

It was a move that had to be made. In another minor move, the Isles exchanged Cory Conacher for Dustin Jeffrey. Conacher goes to the Canucks where maybe he’ll play. He became the odd man out due to a deep roster. The Islanders also added depth in forward Tyler Kennedy from the Sharks for a conditional 2016 third round pick.

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Rangers dominate Predators in successful Yandle debut

On an exciting night for Keith Yandle, the Rangers took care of business dominating the Predators 4-1 at MSG to improve to 7-0-2 in their last nine on home ice. Making his Broadway debut wearing number 93, Yandle took most of his 24 shifts with Kevin Klein. The third pair formed solid chemistry from the outset with one early shift spent in the offensive zone leading to a pair of scoring chances.

For his part, Yandle was unselfish setting up open teammates. Though he didn’t register a point and was on for a goal against, it was a good start for the former Coyote brought in to stabilize the blueline. He also saw two minutes on the power play demonstrating why Glen Sather sacrificed top prospect Anthony Duclair for him.

Dominating at even strength, they carried the play against the team with the league’s best record. Even though Nashville entered losers of two straight, it was impressive. All 18 skaters were in sync including Tanner Glass, who got the start over James Sheppard, who took warm ups after a late arrival. Glass registered an assist for the second straight game setting up a crucial insurance marker from linemate Dominic Moore with 14:09 left in regulation. Although they were on for the Preds only goal, that line with returning forward Jesper Fast was effective.

Coach Alain Vigneault prefers to roll four lines. In this one, it worked well because his team won most of the battles. They were solid defensively. On a rare Preds chance that misfired, Dan Boyle made a good read and came out with the puck in the neutral zone leading to the game’s first goal. On an odd-man rush, Derick Brassard’s back pass for the trailer was tipped by Mats Zuccarello right to Marc Staal, who beat Pekka Rinne high glove with his fifth. A perfectly executed play by a very fast team dangerous in transition.

In a period they outshot the Preds 12-5, they easily could’ve had more. But Rinne made some timely saves and had his best friend the goalpost preventing a Carl Hagelin goal on a Kevin Hayes set up. The third line with J.T. Miller continued to play well cycling the puck effectively and generating chances. In a conference call, Sather referenced Hayes’ development for a reason he parted with Duclair. He might not have said so but Miller’s improvement also helped. The former 2011 first round pick is now a regular playing a top nine role under the same coach who questioned his commitment in ’13-14.

The second started similarly with the Rangers continuing to take control. On an extended shift, Brassard combined with Zuccarello to set up a streaking Chris Kreider, who came on for Rick Nash on a change. With Nashville lost defensively, Zuccarello threaded the needle to Kreider for his 17th increasing to 2-0 at 4:14.

For the first half, it was all Blueshirts. But the Preds started to come on in the second half. They put together consecutive shifts in the Ranger end and finally got back in the game when former Ranger Matt Cullen finished off a nice Taylor Beck pass between Yandle on a two-on-one down low. Fast turned over the puck leading to Beck making a perfect feed for a Cullen one-timer that beat Cam Talbot. With his defense playing well for the most part, he didn’t have to make many big saves but was good when he had to be stopping 25 of 26 including 10 in the third.

Trailing by one, the Predators came out aggressively to start the final stanza. But Talbot was sharp. His teammates also were looking like a different team than the one that got outworked by the Flyers Saturday on NBC. In particular, Staal had a very strong game making excellent reads including shorthanded where he excels. He also continued to jump into the play looking more confident in Year 2 under Vigneault. He didn’t get one of the three stars because the media must’ve been asleep. But Staal was dominant. So too were Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi with each having one of their best games. Even Boyle played well in his end finishing plus-two.

That kind of commitment is needed for the Rangers to come out of the East. It should prove more difficult with either the Pens or Caps a potential first round opponent with the Islanders likely standing in the way in Round 2. The Canadiens have a similar road with the Bruins and either the Lightning or Red Wings potential second round opponents. As evidenced by Sunday’s snowfall on the first day of March, Spring is a long way off. A lot depends on where each team winds up and how they’re playing. To their credit, the Rangers have continued to win without Henrik Lundqvist, who celebrated his 33rd birthday today. Undoubtedly, he’ll be needed for any run.

On a excellent shift by the fourth line started by Miller who changed, they salted the game away. Fast atoned for his giveaway by winning a puck battle down low to Glass. Glass patiently waited before using the boards to set up a low Girardi one-timer that caromed off Rinne right to Moore, who deposited his sixth to make it 3-1 at 5:51. It was a nice reward for a hard working player who’s consistent. Despite working with Glass and recently departed Lee Stempniak most of the season, Moore has continued to perform well. Vigneault trusts him in one-goal games and knows he can count on Moore to win key defensive draws. He doesn’t get enough credit for the job he does.

With his team unable to mount much at even strength, Nashville coach Peter Laviolette opted to pull Rinne for an extra attacker with three and a half minutes left. While his team did manage to get more offensive possession, they had to work for their chances. Talbot shut the door. After a few icings, Nash took a Klein pass and sent a puck into the vacated net for his team-leading 38th at 19:16. His first goal since returning from neck spasms. He trails red hot Alexander Ovechkin by three for the Rocket Richard. He had more jump in this one and looked like himself. A good sign moving forward.

As for the game’s Three Stars, the media selected Kreider third, Talbot second and Zuccarello first to loud “Zuuuucccc” chants. Finally re-signed by the club for a reported four years, $18 million with a no-movement clause in Year 1 and protection, he played extremely well and earned those chants. It would’ve been a mistake to trade him. I’m glad he told his agent to go back to the Rangers and make the best deal possible to stay. He loves it here and we love him.

BONY 3 Stars:

3rd Star-Tanner Glass, NYR (assist, 3 SOG, 3 hits, Even in 16 shifts-10:31-for all the flak he gets, he’s played well lately)

2nd Star-Marc Staal, NYR (goal-5th of season, +2 in 29 big shifts-18:51)

1st Star-Mats Zuccarello, NYR (2 assists-24, 25, 2 takeaways, +2 in 17:59)

Notes: Yandle finished with three shots and went minus-one in 19:41 with five shot attempts. … Not really sure why the third line didn’t play more. Hayes (10:34) and Miller (11:27) both had good games as did Hagelin, who had four shots and another two attempted. Curiously, Vigneault used Glass shorthanded over Hayes with Fast back. … Rinne finished with 36 saves taking the loss. … Rangers neutralized Shea Weber, who was on for all four goals against with only two shots. Rookie Filip Forsberg went minus-three despite a couple of chances. … NYR lost the faceoff battle 36-31 led by Moore, who went 8-and-6. Mike Fisher was 15-and-7 for Nashville.

… Rangers (39-17-6) moved back into first tying the Islanders in points (84) but have two more ROW (36-34) and two more games left (20-18). They now go on a five-game road trip with stops at Detroit 3/4, Chicago 3/8, the Islanders 3/10, the Capitals 3/11 and the Sabres 3/14.

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Zidlicky traded to Detroit, Devils still ‘not giving up’ on season

While the days leading up to the trade deadline were rather active for the Devils (with the Jaromir Jagr trade) and the NHL alike, Deadline Day proved to be more fizzle than sizzle for both the league and the Devils.  Most of today’s trades were of the role player and small potatoes variety though there was plenty of action in the ramp up to Deadline Day 2015, particuarly from the Rangers yesterday and Steve Yzerman’s outrageous Brayden Coburn trade overnight.  I admit it, seeing the value for all of the UFA defensemen that got traded over the last few days I thought the Devils would get at least a second-rounder back for Marek Zidlicky, but not only did we wind up moving him for a third-rounder – but a 2016 third-rounder at that.  Yes we can get an additional 5th rounder next year if Detroit makes the ECF, or even turn both picks into a 2nd rounder if Detroit makes the SCF, but that’s a long ways away.

As dissapointing as the return for Zidlicky was, clearly his NTC and refusal to waive it for most teams hampered our potential return.  Even GM Lou Lamoriello admitted in a Freudian slip there were better offers, but because of his no-trade Zidlicky just ‘exercised the right he had’ and made a point of saying he didn’t hold the team up.  While I harbor no ill will for Zid and he certainly was a good Devil for his three seasons, the fact is getting only one 2nd rounder next year and two 2016 3rd rounders isn’t what I had in mind for a total return for Jagr and Zidlicky.  And no other moves were made via either addition or subtraction.  In a rare admission, Lou admitted ‘we weren’t able to get done some of the things we had hoped to’.  Even Martin Havlat and Michael Ryder stayed put as the Devils made no other moves with their eight free agents still on the roster.

What troubles me is Lou’s attempt at justifying making no additional moves with this Tweet:

Lamoriello said if he was giving up on this season you would have seen “several other players” moved today.

Is Lou just running out of ways to fib that make any sense or is he truly that delusional to think this team is worth keeping intact for a ‘playoff push’ when they’re nine points out, behind multiple teams with a much harder March schedule coming up?  If you wanted to keep Scott Gomez, Jordin Tootoo and maybe even Steve Bernier cause you wanted to re-sign them fine by me, I wasn’t in favor of moving Gomez or Tootoo for the sake of moving them since it’s much less likely you re-sign them if they get traded and both are showing they deserve a contract for next year – Bernier too for that matter, though he and Tootoo are arguably competing for one spot, or one will be overslotted on the third line next year.  That said, please don’t say the only reason you didn’t move them was because you’re not out of the race.  That’s just a ridiculous statement to make.  I get putting on a facade but at a certain point you just start to lose credibility.

One thing I do agree with Lou on is that the emergence of Adam Larsson in the second half coupled with the return of Damon Severson (both RH shots, with Andy Greene and Jon Merrill as the LH shots in the top four) lessens the need for Zidlicky going forward 5-on-5, and hopefully over time Severson, Larsson, Eric Gelinas or some combination takes over his power play role.  You could even make the case the Devils didn’t get much worse in the last few days by effectively trading off Jagr/Zid for Severson and Havlat or Ryder if you factor in Jagr’s declining role here and Severson’s suddenly imminent return to the lineup either tomorrow or Friday.  It might be a stretch but you can argue the team isn’t really much worse at all and got three picks back – though two of them being 3rd rounders in 2016 are meh.  And to his credit Lou was pretty open and transparent during his conference call about the team’s needs going forward and what he tried to do although it would have been amusing to see the Internet forums explode if Lou had succeeded in making a Tuomo Ruutu-like addition at the deadline.

Of course if you were wating for total capitulation from Lou, you’ll be waiting a long time.

Lamoriello: “We’re here to win right now and anybody who feels other than that, I can’t help their thoughts.”

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