STOCKHOLM — The moment everyone had come to see was right there. Lucas Raymond had just scored the Detroit Red Wings’ first goal of the NHL’s Global Series in his native Sweden, in front of a crowd heavy on Red Wings fans.
The only problem? His team had already dug a 4-0 hole to the Ottawa Senators in the game’s first 22 minutes, sapping much of the emotion from what should have been a signature snapshot for the event.
Raymond’s goal was not entirely for naught — it kicked off a stunning four-goal comeback by the Red Wings to even the score by the end of the second period — but it was instead Ottawa’s Tim Stützle delivering the moment of the night, scoring a baseball-swing goal with two seconds left in overtime to send the Senators to a 5-4 win.
“It was very disappointing,” Dylan Larkin said simply, which summed up the mood in the Red Wings dressing room.
Detroit’s players tried to console themselves with the fact their comeback still earned them a point, and that’s fair enough. It was quite the rally, scoring four goals in less than eight minutes in the second period to tie a game that at one point looked over. But even considering that, the story unavoidably comes back to what went wrong that kept them from getting two points.
And that started early.
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— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) November 16, 2023
Despite a 3-0 deficit after one period, the Red Wings actually came out well to start the game. They controlled possession over the first five minutes with jump in their legs — which was a question coming in after a challenging adjustment to a very different time zone.
Though those opening minutes were promising, Detroit quickly shot itself in the foot with penalties. Michael Rasmussen took an offensive zone holding penalty at the 5:31 mark, and the Senators took no time to capitalize, with Brady Tkachuk tipping a rebound shot to open the scoring. All four Red Wings penalty killers had been pulled outside the right faceoff dot, leaving Stützle wide-open for a chance in the slot, and left Detroit scrambling back and missing the rebound. It was a sign of things to come.
The Senators’ next goal came on what seemed like a broken play, as Stützle fell down on an entry. But the Senators’ dynamic young center maintained enough control to center the puck through the crease and through Ben Chiarot — who appeared to lose sight of the puck while looking for Tkachuk, who by then was waiting on the back door for an easy tap in.
In all, the defense pairing of Chiarot and Jeff Petry was on the ice for Ottawa’s first four goals, all of which came in the first 22 minutes.
“I’d have to watch it back,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “I think there’s some plays they probably want back. Maybe a little bit of credit (on) two of their goals, world-class play by Stützle, he bats the one out of the air, and obviously the backdoor tap in, for sure could have defended it much better, but (it was) a pretty big-time play.”
Typically, a four-goal deficit in the NHL means a game might as well be over. Especially considering the fourth goal came right after the first intermission, which could have easily started a spiral. Instead, it went the other way.
“Honestly, in the first, I didn’t think we played terrible,” Raymond said. “Obviously the score is 3-0, but we had some good parts, and I think we brought that into the second.”
Raymond embodied that — scoring on a two-on-one rush that still drew quite the reaction in Avicii Arena — but his reaction was obviously a bit subdued given the game state. Nonetheless, more offense followed for the Red Wings. Next was an Olli Määttä point shot that deflected off David Perron and in. Then Alex DeBrincat buried a pretty feed from Shayne Gostisbehere to draw Detroit within one. And then it was Gostisbehere, banking a puck off a Senators player’s skate to tie the score.
The entire four-goal barrage happened in 7 minutes, 33 seconds, to the roaring surprise of the international crowd.
But the Red Wings just couldn’t stay out of their own way. Having tied the score at 4-4, the momentum was all theirs into the second intermission, but Detroit simply couldn’t stay out of penalty trouble. The Red Wings took four penalties in the third period, and even worse, they were staggered such that two led to a five-on-three and two others left them short-handed for much of the final six minutes.
To their credit, they killed them all successfully to survive to overtime. But spending that period in high-leverage defensive situations, rather than building on their momentum, wasted a major opportunity.
“It was very deflating,” Larkin said. “We had chances to win that game, and we did a great job putting ourselves in that position, but the time and how we took those penalties was really tough.”
In the end, Stützle’s stunning baseball swing was a fitting end to a wild game in Stockholm. With time running down in overtime, Stützle tracked a deflected puck through the air and timed a perfect swing to bat at it. Red Wings goalie James Reimer couldn’t find the puck, and then flinched at Stützle’s swing, giving up the goal with just two seconds remaining.
“When it popped off (Gostisbehere’s) stick, I just lost sight of it,” Reimer said. “And when I caught it again, it was (Stützle) going for a baseball swing and just got lucky, and unfortunately couldn’t get over there in time.”
There were bright spots to the game: Raymond’s goal, the comeback and the play of the Gostisbehere-Määttä pairing, which Lalonde called “noticeably excellent.” The coach also called Detroit’s five-on-five game “great.”
But with the untimely penalties — a problematic trend for Detroit — the defensive miscues by the most veteran pair and that game-ending play in overtime, it was just too much for the Red Wings to overcome. And it puts their backs against the wall going into Friday’s game against Toronto.
If the Red Wings can rally and beat the Maple Leafs, then leaving Stockholm with three points will certainly qualify as a successful trip. But two losses would make for an awfully long plane ride home Saturday — especially considering their schedule will do them few favors upon their return, with games against New Jersey and Boston on deck.
It’s a high-leverage early moment for the Red Wings, and one they’ll trust to goalie Alex Lyon, whom Lalonde said will make his first start of the season. That will be a tall task, facing one of the most talented teams in the league without having played in more than a month, since the preseason. And the team in front of him will need to play accordingly.
“Especially after a tough, emotional game like that, you want to come back and play hard,” Larkin said. “And there’s no better team to do that against than the Leafs.”
(Photo of James Reimer ducking under Tim Stützle’s goal: Andre Ringuette / NHLI via Getty Images)