Nielsen scores in shootout as Red Wings edge Senators
OTTAWA — When it comes to scoring shootout goals, nobody does it better than Frans Nielsen.
Nielsen was up to his old tricks again Saturday night as the only player to find mesh in the shootout, giving the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.
The goal was Nielsen’s 45th in shootouts, tying him with Radim Vrbata of the Florida Panthers for the NHL’s career shootout lead.
Nielsen, who has been successful on 49.5 percent of his tries, also leads all players in game-deciding goals in shootouts with 20, one more than T.J. Oshie of the Washington Capitals.
“It’s kind of my go-to one,” Nielsen said of his move, a deke to the backhand before flipping a shot over sprawled Senators goalie Craig Anderson. “I fanned a little bit on it, but it was good to see it go in.”
The win improved the Red Wings to 2-0-0 and the Senators dropped to 0-0-2.
Jimmy Howard made 37 saves for the Red Wings and Anderson stopped 29 shots. Both were spectacular as the teams played to a scoreless draw through the first 57 minutes.
“It was one of the best goaltending duels I’ve seen in a long time,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “That was absolutely ridiculous. Both goalies didn’t want to budge.”
Finally, Red wings rookie Martin Frk broke the ice with 2:34 left in regulation after taking a pass from Dylan Larkin and firing a shot that beat Anderson low to the glove side.
It was the second of the season for Frk, the Red Wings’ second-round pick in 2012 who has now played a total of four NHL games.
“His shot is a weapon,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “Today, again, it’s not really a chance. He just got he puck and fired it, and basically overpowered Anderson. It’s good to see. He’s on a good pace here.”
The Senators tied the score with 1:51 left in the third period when Dion Phaneuf picked off a pass by Jonathan Ericsson at the Red Wings’ blue line, then took a stride toward the net and delivered a shot that appeared to deflect off Detroit defenseman Mike Green before slipping past Howard.
“It was just a hockey read,” Phaneuf said of his interception. “You jump in ... I was able to keep it in. If it goes the other way, it’s not a very good read.”
The Senators lost defenseman Ben Harpur with an upper-body injury in the second period, leaving them short-handed on the blue line the rest of the way.
Harpur had been recalled from Ottawa’s AHL affiliate a day earlier as an injury fill-in.
“Losing another ‘D’ and having to play the entire third period with five guys again, it’s starting to be a lot of adversity,” said Boucher, who saw veteran Johnny Oduya go down in Thursday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals. “Our team was quite dedicated tonight. I think it was quite a show. We gave everything we had, and we got two points out of this weekend.
“Those two games, you could have also got zero points. Every point matters, we know that. It’s a grind. Our player played well both games, but there’s a big difference for me. A lot less unforced errors and turnovers. This was by far our best game since the beginning of the season.”
The Senators continue to struggle on the power play, however, as they were 0-for-7 and now 0-for-12 for the season.
“I don’t think you get discouraged and get negative about it, because when you do that you grip (the stick) a little more tight, and nothing comes from that,” Phaneuf said. “We’ll stick to it, we’ll work on it, and we expect to get better at it.”
On the other side, the Red Wings were pleased with their work while short-handed, as they are now 11-for-11 in two games. At the same time, they would like to stay away from the box a little more.
“We’ve just to figure everything out,” Howard said. “It’s not like the old days where you can get your stick up around the guy’s hands. If you give a guy a whack, they are going to call it now. We’ve got to figure that out and keep stick on puck and just play.”
The Red Wings continue an early season, four-game road trip when they visit the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. The Senators start their own three-game trek through western Canada on Tuesday in Vancouver.
NOTES: Without D Erik Karlsson (ankle) and D Johnny Oduya (lower body), the Senators recalled D Ben Harpur, who in 2016-17 played six games for them in the regular season and nine in the playoffs. ... Although he’s listed as day to day, Karlsson said he wasn’t sure if he’d be accompanying the team on its three-game road trip that starts Tuesday in Vancouver. ... Red Wings D Niklas Kronwall (groin) practiced Saturday morning but did not play ... Senators LW Alex Formenton, who turned 18 on Sept. 13, made his NHL debut as the youngest player in franchise history. ... Playing his first game for the Red Wings was RW Luke Witkowski, a former sixth-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning who signed with Detroit as a free agent in the offseason. ... Red Wings LW David Booth was a healthy scratch. The Senators’ lone healthy scratch was C Logan Brown.