The first time, it happened too fast for officials on the ice or in the NHL command centre to see it. The second, no one could doubt.
Sheahan scored with 3:44 remaining in the third period to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night for their fourth straight victory.
“Just kind of a broken play,” Sheahan said. “We had a chance to get some possession in the O-zone. Larks made a great pass and I don’t think the goalie was really ready for it.”
But that goal might not have been needed if not for a bizarre set of circumstances in the first period. Sheahan fired a shot from just inside the blue line, but figured he hit the post after it bounced up and out of play. However, television replays showed the puck went in before hitting off the camera inside the goal and going through the top of the netting. The shot was not ruled a goal in real-time and a video review did not overrule the initial call.
Larkin said he saw the netting “jump up” and thought it was a goal. Sheahan wasn’t quite as sure.
“I just saw it hit off something and go up, so I figured it wasn’t in,” Sheahan said. “I was a little confused at what we were looking at.”
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill looked at the play between periods and understood why the initial ruling stood. Everything else he saw — Tomas Tatar also scored and Petr Mrazek made 30 saves to help Detroit end a four-game losing streak to Anaheim — was indicative of a team finding its groove.
Detroit has won four straight for the first time this season, doing so on its longest trip.
“Because of our veteran leadership we’re a team that can win on the road,” Blashill said. “When momentum starts going the other way you got to really play smart hockey, and I think our guys did that tonight.”
Corey Perry scored for the Ducks, and Gibson stopped 22 shots. Anaheim did not earn a point for only the second time in its last nine games.
Detroit took the lead just 16 seconds in, with Tatar’s pass redirecting in off Hampus Lindholm‘s stick at the top of the crease.
Anaheim seemed out of sorts after falling behind, with Ryan Kesler and Sami Vatanen taking unnecessary penalties. Nate Thompson had a short-handed breakaway on the second Red Wings’ power play but sent his shot off the crossbar and out of play. The Ducks’ first official shot on goal didn’t come until exactly halfway through the period.
The second was much more effective. Perry took Getzlaf’s pass and put a backhand in top shelf to tie the game. It was Perry’s 16th goal of the season and third in the last four games.
Anaheim nearly took the lead seconds later on a 3-on-2 rush off the ensuing faceoff but Shawn Horcoff whiffed on the shot.
“The margin of error is very slim when you’re averaging less than two goals a game,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We had opportunities to score. We just didn’t finish.”
With a noticeable and vocal contingent of Red Wings fans in attendance, the game took on an atmosphere recalling the fierce playoff battles between the two teams before Detroit joined the Eastern Conference in 2014.
“I thought it was an unreal hockey game,” Blashill said. “It ebbed and flowed and had great chances both ways.”
NOTES: Perry needed cosmetic dental work after being hit in the face by Danny DeKeyser‘s stick late. … Anaheim killed all three Detroit power plays and has not allowed a power-play goal in its last seven games. … Detroit scratched C Joakim Andersson and D Jakub Kindl. Kindl, a first-round pick in 2005, cleared waivers Sunday. … Detroit continues its six-game Monday night at Los Angeles. … Anaheim returns to action Wednesday night at home against Ottawa.