By Ashley Scoby
@AshleyScoby

The Capitals took down the Red Wings, 2-1, in a three-on-three setting, 45 seconds into sudden-death overtime Wednesday night. But the win came on the foundation of Detroit allowing five-on-four Washington power plays all night.

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Coming into Wednesday’s game, Detroit was the ninth-best team in the NHL in terms of penalty minutes per game (8.28). But against the Capitals, the Red Wings nearly reached that total in the first period, spending eight minutes in the box thanks to penalties from four different players. Detroit finished with 12 penalty minutes, putting the Capitals on the power play six times.

“You can’t be in the box that much, especially against this team,” Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “They’re really good. (Goalkeeper) Petr (Mrazek) kept us in the game there, made some key saves. I think that the PKs did a real good job of blocking shots too, and did their job, but we can’t be in the box that much. I think a few of those calls were probably a little questionable but we gave the refs a reason to call them, and you can’t do that.”

Detroit somehow survived the barrage and escaped into an overtime period where everything was equal again. But Evgeny Kuznetsov squeezed in a goal 45 seconds into the period, sending Red Wings fans streaming to the exits with their hands in the air.

It had been a frustrating game for Detroit, in part because of the penalties, but it was also one that inspired some optimism. The Capitals went on the power play six times, but only wrung one point out of those chances.

“We took too many penalties obviously,” Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said. “You can’t have four in the first period. I thought as the game went along, our penalty kill got better and better and better. I thought we did a great job overall.”

The game started optimistically enough for the Wings. Nineteen-year-old rookie Dylan Larkin scored his sixth goal of the season – his second in as many games – and shot up to 13 points on the season.

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Larkin sped past everyone starting at the center line and sliced his shot in from the top of the circle, giving the Red Wings a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the first period.

“He is (confident) for sure,” Blashill said of Larkin. “He attacks and he shoots the puck a lot. He’s one of those guys that you probably – I don’t want to say he overshoots it, because it’s not like he doesn’t make plays, but he definitely – if he has a chance, he’s gonna shoot it. I think that probably needs to be a little more contagious with our team.”

The Capitals’ Justin Williams equalized in the first period about seven minutes after Larkin’s goal, and it came on Washington’s second power play of the period.

From then, the teams were locked in a stalemate, combining for 53 shots on goal in regulation and heading into overtime stuck on the 1-1 score they’d jumped to in the first 11 minutes.

“I know we had quite a few more (penalties) and it’s tough to generate offense when you’re constantly killing penalties like that,” Wings defender Danny Dekeyser said.

Detroit falls to 9-8-2 on the season, including 5-5 at Joe Louis Arena.

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“We want to become a really good hockey team,” Blashill said. “Right now we’ve been an average hockey team based on our record. We want to become a really good hockey team and we’ve got to find a way to win these games at home.”